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Kamloops Storm name head coach, announce organizational changes; ownership situation fluid

There has been a changing of the guard in the Kamloops Storm organization. Matt Kolle, formerly the Storm’s assistant general manager, has been named general manager.

There has been a changing of the guard in the Kamloops Storm organization.

Matt Kolle, formerly the Storm’s assistant general manager, has been named general manager. Team majority owner, president and governor Barry Dewar, formerly the team’s GM, will support Kolle in the role.

Ed Patterson told KTW in March he did not plan to return as head coach of the Storm and that was confirmed in the press release. Kamloops product Jassi Sangha is taking the head coaching reins.

Sangha, who played for the Storm in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and the TRU WolfPack in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League, moved to Williams Lake in 2012, but returned to the Tournament Capital last September.

He read the KTW article in which Patterson noted he likely won’t return to the Storm’s bench and reached out to Dewar. If Patterson changed his mind, Sangha was willing to work as an assistant coach under Patterson, who once coached him with the Storm.

“I thought Ed was coming back until the middle of June or July,” Dewar said. “When he decided not to come back, I needed somebody and I’ve known Jassi for a long time.”

Sangha played 16 games with the junior A Merritt Centennials in 2005-2006. When he read a newspaper article that said Dewar was moving the Storm to Kamloops from Osoyoos in 2006, Sangha reached out to Dewar and joined the Storm in time for the 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 KIJHL campaigns.

“It’s kind of come full circle,” Sangha said. “It’s quite funny. I’m really excited.”

Andrew Fisher, a former teammate of Sangha’s with the TRU WolfPack and Williams Lake Stampeders, was named assistant coach of the Storm on Monday. Former WHL netminder Lucas Gore will help coach the goaltenders.

Sangha and Dewar said another staff member is likely to be named soon.

Kolle said that while Sangha is the head coach, the Storm will have a coaching-by-committee feel.

“We really do have a team of people there, with me as the GM and, hopefully, a mentor, and Andrew, someone he’s familiar with,” Kolle said. “What’s most important to me is that we have good people.”

Dewar owns 51 per cent of Parallel Storm Hockey Group Limited, which owns the Storm. He confirmed a deal is in place with Tracy Mero, who last year bought 49 per cent of Parallel Storm Hockey Group Ltd.

“Eventually, we do have an agreement that he will buy the team out,” Dewar said. “They have to be approved by the league and, quite honestly, the league has already turned them down once. Will they do it again? I have no idea.”

Mero owns Quesnel-based Parallel Welding and has been a proponent of bringing a KIJHL franchise to the Gold Pan City, as has Kolle, but Mero told KTW plans to move the Storm to Quesnel or establish a new franchise there are not imminent.

“We’re not moving,” said Mero, who hopes the league will approve him taking majority ownership of the Storm next year. “I’ve got no reason to move it for a few years, if that.”

Mero’s eldest son, 17, is playing hockey in Ontario. His youngest son is 12 and lives in Quesnel.

“If we got one in Quesnel, we’d probably sell the one in Kamloops,” Mero said. “It’s probably four years away. Hopefully, the league expands by then.”

Mero said it is likely the Storm will continue playing games in Quesnel. Kamloops played six regular-season home games in the Cariboo city in 2017-2018.

“Support was huge,” Mero said, noting average attendance was 750 for those contests.

Dewar, who has run the Storm for 18 years, has mixed emotions about taking a step back.

“I’m prepared to stay on and continue to work toward making the franchise a success, but I am 65 and I probably do need to wind down,” Dewar said.