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Josh Petrich, Head Coach
Starting his second season as the Head Coach of the Kenai River Brown Bears, Josh Petrich helped lead the team to their best record since the 2013-14 season, finishing 18-38-4. Although not happy about the final record, Petrich was happy in the accomplishments of the young group; having one D1 commit (Cam McDonald – Providence), one D3 commit (David Kaplan – UW Superior), one pro signing (Gil Garcia – Division 1 Sweden), and three league awards. Kaplan won the Midwest Division Community Service Award while McDonald was named to the NAHL All-Rookie Second Team and Midwest Division All-Rookie Team. Finally, Coach Petrich has 10 players returning this year from the 2017-18 roster and is looking for them to make an impact right away.
Josh started his coaching career in Duluth, Minnesota, while attending the University of Minnesota Duluth. He spent two seasons coaching Bantam hockey with Duluth East, then two seasons as an assistant varsity/head junior varsity coach at Duluth Central High School before moving onto the junior ranks. His first junior hockey coaching position was with the Duluth Clydesdales (SIJHL) during their first season in 2010-11. He also served as a scout for the Alexandria Blizzard (NAHL) that season. He was hired in 2011-12 to assist Corey Millen, longtime NHL player, in coaching the Alaska Avalanche (NAHL), where they set a franchise record for points (76) and wins (35). The following season, he took the head coaching position with the Russell Stover 16U AAA team (T1EHL), where he recruited and coached Will Graber (Dartmouth College).
Coach Petrich was offered the opportunity to help Corey Millen again in 2013-14 when the Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL) were awarded a franchise. The Wilderness won 37 games during their inaugural season while having four Division 1 commits, and six Division 3 commits. The following season proved to be much more successful, as the Wilderness won the 2015 Robertson Cup, had one NHL draft pick (Ivan Chukarov – Buffalo Sabres), seven Division 1 commits, and four Division 3 commits. His final season (2015-16) with the Wilderness led to a Game 5 loss to eventual Robertson Cup champions, Fairbanks Ice Dogs, but was again successful with 13 Division 1 commits.
Coach Petrich is very excited for the 2018-19 season as it will be his first as a dad. Josh and his wife Desi were blessed with a baby boy, Landon George Petrich in May. He loves spending all his free time with his family and friends while mixing in 18 holes of golf and some world-class fishing on the Kenai River when he can. He looks forward to helping continue the growth in attendance at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex. Brown Bears home games saw an increase from 15,740 fans (525 per game) during the 2016-17 to 26,272 fans (876 per game) last season. The crowds averaged at least 1,100 fans per game after the New Year. #BrownBearNation, we love you so much and look forward to a great 2018-19 campaign!
Dan Bogdan, Assistant Coach
Bogdan, a Westfield, MA native, is the newest member of the Brown Bears Nation. He joins Coach Petrich’s staff after a successful career at both the AAA and Prep/Boarding School levels. Last season, Bogdan led the Northfield Mouth Hermon Hoggers to 24-63-3 record and the top seed in New England Large School championship tournament. Prior to his time at NHM, Bogdan served as Skills Director and head coach of the Connecticut Junior Huskies at the AAA level. He also worked with the University of Connecticut’s men’s Division 1 program as the team’s on-ice strength and conditioning coach (skating and skills).
Prior to the start of his coaching career, Bogdan earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Framingham State University (MA) where he played four years of NCAA hockey for the Rams. Coach Bogdan is looking forward to bringing his expertise of the intricate parts of skill development as well as his tactical knowledge and enthusiasm for the game to Brown Bears bench this season.
Chris Hedlund, Director of Hockey Operations
Former scout Chris Hedlund will continue his role as Director of Hockey Operations for the 2018-19 season. Hedlund grew up in Anoka, MN playing hockey with the Anoka Area Hockey Association and before playing for the Anoka High School Tornadoes. After graduation, Hedlund attended University of Wisconsin Stout (WIAC) and played two seasons with the Blue Devils. While at Stout, Hedlund found his passion for being behind the bench and began coaching Bantams when he was not studying. This led to his new direction of teaching the game of hockey to youth players. Ultimately, coaching led to scouting and he began to help young hockey prospects find their path to their college dreams. He stepped into the North American Tier III Hockey League (NA3HL) working for the Minnesota based Granite City Lumberjacks. There, Hedlund not only helped build up the Lumberjacks team but also help many young prospects focus on their futures in the game. Hedlund is in his fourth year of scouting for Granite City. When he is not at the rink coaching or scouting, he lends his business expertise to the Brown Bears and we are lucky to have him on our staff. This will be Hedlund’s third season with the Brown Bears. He resides in his hometown of Anoka, MN with his wife Teresa and two of their three children with the oldest attending college at Bemidji State.