Great Falls Americans Hire Coach GM

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Great Falls Americans hire coach-GM

The Great Falls Americans were successful everywhere but on the scoreboard last season, and they are determined to change that thisa year.

The team announced this week that Minnesota native Jeff Heimel has been hired as the team’s new head coach and general manager.

Heimel, 26, coached last year in the Western States Hockey League at Cheyenne, Wyo., where his team finished 22-20, with three OT losses and one shootout loss. Heimel is from North St. Paul, Minn., and played in the WSHL for the Phoenix Polar Bears from 2005-07. He also coached the team for a season.

The WSHL and America West Hockey League, which is comprised largely of Montana teams including Great Falls, are both Tier III Junior A groups. The Americans were an expansion club in the AWHL last season and won just one of 48 games.

Heimel said the chance to be a coach and GM was attractive. He plans to recruit out of his home in Minnesota for several months before moving to Great Falls.

Despite all the losses last winter, the Americans drew an average of more than 700 fans to the IcePlex atop Gore Hill.

Heimel has hired an assistant coach, Jake Boese, who played hockey in his native Duluth, Minn., and was a captain of the Phoenix Polar Bears. Heimel said Boese, who is in the final stages of obtaining his degree from Wisconsin-Superior, will be the Americans’ Director of Recruiting and Player Personnel.

Owner Jim Keouth hired Matt Frank a year ago to coach the Americans and replaced him after the team lost its first 12 games. Stirling Wright took over the club in November and coached the team to a 1-35 record.

Keough said a search committee considered 12 applicants before selecting Heimel.

The AWHL will play a 48-game schedule this season, with games slated to begin in late September or early October.

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