Byron Garrels is about to inject some youth into the Kimberley Dynamiters coaching staff.
That isn’t to say head coach Jerry Bancks and assistants Jeff Keiver, Mike Reid and Todd White are getting old.
They’re just a little bit older than the newest member of their group.
Reid, who also wears the general manager’s hat for the Dynamiters, revealed Garrels, 31, as the fourth assistant coach on the team’s staff Monday afternoon.
“Byron is a young guy with lots of energy,” Reid said. “He was, and still is, a very good hockey player. He brings more to the staff.
“It’s never a bad thing to bring in as many talented people as you possibly can and go from there.”
Though born in Red Deer, Garrels calls Kimberley home and has since moving to the Bavarian City of the Rockies from Cambridge Bay, N.W.T., when he was in ninth grade.
Garrels suited up for the Nitros from 2001-02 through 2002-03 before moving on to the Alberta Junior Hockey League, first with the Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves and eventually the Brooks Bandits.
“It’s a good opportunity to learn,” Garrels said Monday.
“[Coaching] is an opportunity to get back into the game and help some kids out.”
In 100 career AJHL games, Garrels registered 14 goals and 39 points before moving on to the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) for post-secondary studies.
Garrels found himself at the Kimberley Civic Centre as a fan on many occasions last season, watching the Dynamiters trek all the way to the town’s first KIJHL championship since the 1980.
“I’m going to help out wherever I can, really,” Garrels said. “I’m not going to go in there and change anything. Obviously they won a championship last year. I’’ll contribute where I can and learn from the guys that are there.
“Watching the playoffs was definitely exciting for the whole community. Most of the town was in the arena during most of the playoffs. Anytime you can get that, it’s a good thing.”
The newest member of the Nitros coaching staff will look to begin learning from his more senior colleagues when players report for conditioning and fitness Aug. 31 and as main camp opens Sept. 4 at the Kimberley Civic Centre.
“At the beginning, it will probably be a learning curve for him,” Reid said. “He hasn’t coached at this level before so it’s more get to training camp, get yourself familiar with the kids, get yourself familiar with how we operate.
“I see him probably, as time goes on, sliding into my position [on the bench].”
With six 1995-born players on the roster as of Monday, Reid is going to be tasked with retooling a significant chunk of the roster following the 2015-16 season.
And that isn’t a task achieved over night.
“I really have to be active scouting this year,” Reid said. “We’re graduating a lot of players. This is a very big year for our organization as we transition to next year.”
Forwards Eric Buckley, Jared Marchi, Alex Rosolowsky, defencemen Jordan Busch and Justin Meier, along with goaltender Tyson Brouwer, will all age out of junior hockey following the 2015-16 season.
KIJHL clubs are restricted to carrying five 20-year-old players, meaning one of the six will have to go prior to puck drop Sept. 11 in Invermere when the Dynamiters visit the Columbia Valley Rockies.
As for Garrels, he can’t wait for that date and the opportunity to gain a completely new perspective on hockey.