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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Bulldogs make Coaching Change


Port Alberni The Port Alberni Junior Hockey Society and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs hockey club wish to announce that they have released Head Coach and GM Kevin Willison, effective immediately.

The decision to release Willison was made after much deliberation and consideration of the best interests of the team going forward.

‘Kevin has served both this team and our community with all his heart and we did not come to this decision easily’ says PAJHS President Ron Paulson. ‘We will miss his character and gritty determination that was reflected in the teams he put on the ice.’

During Willison’s tenure as Head Coach/GM the Bulldogs made the playoff in 4 of the 5 years, including winning the Island Division playoffs in 2013.

‘Both Bobbi and I have truly enjoyed our time here in Alberni.’ says Willison. ‘We would like to thank all of the fans and people in the community for their hospitality and friendship over the past 5 years.’

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs will start recruiting for a new Head Coach immediately. Associate Coach Alex Evin will be supervising hockey operations until a new Head Coach is signed.

For more information, please contact: Ron Paulson 


This is the part of the business I most certainly do not enjoy, as much as I'm well aware that it is certainly a part of the business. As a former Coach of a team I worked for in the MJHL once said "Coaches are fired to be hired" 

I'm sorry to see Kevin go. He's a great coach and even more importantly a better person. It's beyond tough to be in my position to not develop relationships with the people that play on or work for the team I work in conjunction with, simply due to the amount to time we spend together during the duration of a season. 

Having said that,  it is even harder to have everyone always get along due to the nature of the business and the ups and downs and highs and lows. Kevin has always treated me with nothing but the utmost respect, professionalism and class and was always a pleasure to work with, and I can't thank him enough for that. 

Looking at the human side as opposed to all the hockey and business side of things, I certainly don't want to have to tell my sons the news, as "Coach Willy" always had an open door for them when I'd pop by the rink for a pow wow during some of the precious few quiet times at the office and my family couldn't be more thankful for that. 

On the hockey and business side of things, I can understand why the decision to make this move was made, with the season the team had and how they finished out of the playoffs. I look forward to meeting the new coach, and what they do with the team and working with them.

My final thanks to Kevin back to the hockey side would be for all the moments going back to 2012 when he took the job here. The 2013 Island Championship is something I'll never forget - one of only two times that the Bulldogs played in the Conference Final, with the Nolan Graham led Bulldogs losing in Game 7 to Powell River in 2009-2010. While the runs weren't as long with losses in Game 7 in 2014 to Victoria and in Game 7 in 2015 to Nanaimo and Game 5 to Nanaimo in 2016, they were also a pleasure to cover. While last season was certainly a challenge to say the least, I was also incredibly proud of how hard he team played and refused to quit despite the circumstances late in the season. 


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