The most successful head coach in Mission City Outlaws history is stepping down.
Brad Veitch, who helped lead the Outlaws to their first-ever Pacific Junior Hockey League title in 2016, announced last week that he and associate coach Mike Drouillard are calling it a coaching career.
The pair sparked change in the Outlaws franchise, seeing improvements in wins and points for three straight years. They took over a team that went 9-31-1-3 in 2012-13, and built the team up to a record of 31-11-0-2 in 2015-16.
Along the way, the Outlaws won the PJHL title, attended two Cyclone Taylor Cups (winning bronze in 2016) and Veitch earned a coach of the year award from the PJHL.
Drouillard, who worked with the Outlaws defence, helped the team allow a league-best 123 goals in 44 games in 2015-16.
The Outlaws named former Port Moody Panthers assistant and head coach Mike Renner as Veitch’s replacement in the coaching role. Assistant coach Nick Thomson will stay on, while Veitch will remain as an assistant general manager and coaching consultant for the club.
Renner, originally from Innisfill, Ont., played junior A hockey in Ontario. Since relocating to B.C., Renner has coached peewee and bantam rep for Coquitlam Minor Hockey Association, peewee AAA for Mission Minor Hockey Association, and Bantam AA for the Vancouver Thunderbirds program. He has also coached in the BC Hockey High Performance program.
The Panthers finished in fifth place in the Tom Shaw conference in 2016-17, and failed to make the playoffs.
He said he’s looking forward to bring an entertaining style of play to Mission.
“My ideal team is fast, exciting and tough,” he said.
“I like to play an offensive style, puck possession and high pressure game. I like my team to play high pressure offensive hockey and force turnovers.”
Renner said he’s familiar with a number of the players on the Outlaws from his years of coaching in the MMHA. He said he particularly likes the Outlaws defensive corps.
“I’ve coached [defenders] Michael Sande and Michael Nemeth,” he said. “And both of those guys bring a high compete level and should play a huge role for us.”
He also pointed to defender Jackson O’Brien as an emerging player.
“I really like the core of the defence,” he said.
Renner said forward Nicolas Bizzutto will be another player to watch. Bizzutto had a breakout season in 2016-17 with 16 goals.
He also said he looks forward to working with Justin Bowerman, who is expected to return as one of the team’s 20-year-old players. Bowerman scored 16 goals for the Outlaws, and Renner said he thinks Bowerman should be an important piece on the team.
For more on the Mission Outlaws, visit missioncityoutlaws.com.