Rockets hire Williamson

Jason Williamson is the new head coach of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League Okanagan Rockets.

Jason Williamson is the new head coach of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League Okanagan Rockets.

Williamson, 34, replaces Simon Ferguson, who  stepped down due to personal reasons and family commitments. Ferguson spent one year with the Kelowna-based team, guiding the Rockets to a fourth-place finish at 23-12-5 last season.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with the Okanagan Rockets,” Williamson told The Morning Star.

“They produce elite level talent each and every year. I’m looking forward to hopefully building this team into a championship calibre team.”

Williamson, who is working with the Okanagan Hockey School this week, had been the head coach /GM with the BCHL Vernon Vipers for four years before leaving due to personal reasons at the start of last season.

A former Viper captain, the Williams Lake product was an assistant coach for three years in Vernon prior to that. He has made four trips to the RBC Cup, Canada’s national Junior A championship, winning the title with the Vipers in 2009 and 2010, and finishing as runner-up in 2011. He has also been involved at the national level as an assistant coach for Canada West at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge.

Williamson played three seasons for the Vipers before earning a scholarship with the Niagara University Purple Eagles. He compiled 11 goals and 35 points his senior season.

He spent one year with the CHL Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, bagging six goals, 17 points and 113 penalty minutes.

“I believe our boys are in great hands moving forward with Jason heading into the 2015-16 season,” said Rockets’ GM Braeden Pistawka. “Having Jason’s experience from the Junior level and knowledge of the game will be extremely beneficial to our program.

“Having also been exposed to several RBC Cups, Jason will provide invaluable expertise to our program in dealing with both a long grueling season and short term tournaments.”

n Vernon’s Coleton Bilodeau has made the shortlist for Team B.C.’s entry in the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup this fall.

Bilodeau, a 6-foot-1, 177-pounder, is one of 14 forwards chosen. There are eight defencemen and three goalies also shortlisted.

Head coach Leland Mack and staff will evaluate the players before naming the final roster in October. Bilodeau rang up six goals and 13 points in 21 games last year with Pursuit of Excellence.