Listen Live
Listen Live
HomeNewsMuskoka Bears' first head coach is a former World Junior gold medalist

Muskoka Bears’ first head coach is a former World Junior gold medalist

Jason Dawe has been named the first head coach for the Muskoka Bears. 

The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon at the Bracebridge Memorial Arena which hosted the original Bears team before it disbanded in the 1980s. 

“I coach the same way I played with a lot of passion and a lot of hard work,” said Dawe. 

He spent parts of eight seasons in the National Hockey League, notably with the Buffalo Sabres in the mid-90s, and won a Gold medal with Team Canada at the 1993 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. 

- Advertisement -

Dawe also had a storied career with the Ontario Hockey League’s Peterborough Petes. He helped the team to the finals of the 1993 Memorial Cup and scored 169 goals during his four years with them, which is the most in team history. 

While he said this wasn’t his first time in Bracebridge, it was his first time taking in the Memorial Arena. He called it a “great old barn” but added he’s excited to take to the ice at the Muskoka Lumber Community Centre (MLCC). “We’re going to build something special here,” he said. 

There were plenty on hand for the announcement, including Danny Poland, who was the first coach of the original Bears decades ago. 

Dawe said he appreciates the Provincial Junior Hockey League’s (PJHL) focus on supporting players off the ice just as much, if not more, than on the ice. He highlighted how he will make sure they’re prepared on game day but in-between are positive parts of their community and well-prepared for wherever hockey – or life – takes them.  

It was also announced when the first of the Bears’ 21 home games will be. It will be played at the MLCC on Friday, Sept. 13. 

Mayor Rick Maloney joked a “home field advantage” was built into the Muskoka Lumber Arena with the ice slanted a few degrees towards the away end. 

He said replacing the eight-decade-old Memorial Arena is no small task, but the $78 million invested into the MLCC will hopefully do just that. “This is exactly what we want to see come out of that investment,” said Maloney about the Bears set to play at the MLCC.

He added he can’t wait to drop the puck for the ceremonial face-off ahead of the team’s first game. 

When the Bears take to the ice, they will become the 63rd franchise in the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL). Terry Whiteside, commissioner, boasts they’re one of the biggest junior leagues in Canada. However, for the Bears, Whiteside said two teams may hold special meaning: the Huntsville Otters and Orillia Terriers. “You want to have rivalries,” he said. 

The Otters and Terriers are currently engaged in a first-round playoff series with game one taking place the same day Dawe was named the Bears’ head coach. 

With over 1,000 seats waiting for butts to be put in them at the MLCC, Whiteside says he knows the Bears will become yet another team that has the wide support of its community. 

“Everybody is pulling the rope in the same direction,” says Ken Veitch Jr., media coordinator for the Bears. 

He explained when they heard about the MLCC, Veitch Jr. and his brother knew this was the perfect time to bring the Bears pack to pack the rink on Friday nights. 

“There’s a lot of people in this town and if they’re sitting on the fence about coming to a game, they’re going to be sitting by themselves,” added his brother Dave, team president. 

- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -
- Advertisement -

Continue Reading