Aces head coach accepts assistant coach gig with Moncton Wildcats

St. Stephen – Continuing his coaching development, Josh Hepditch, head coach and general manager of the St. Stephen Aces, has accepted a position as assistant coach of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Moncton Wildcats.

Hepditch, who completed his second year as head coach of the Aces at the end of the 2016-2017 season, was named this year’s Maritime Hockey League Coach of the Year, after the team made the postseason in its third year of existence.

Hepditch is now in the process of moving to Moncton, and will start officially with the Wildcats on July 1.

“Everyone was so positive, whether it was a fan or player, everyone always helped. We think it’s a great community, and we’ve seen so many positive changes in the community during our time there, and we hope it continues down that road.” – Josh Hepditch

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Having played for the Wildcats prior to attending university, Hepditch said he is excited to continue his coaching development, and join the staff of an organization he once played for.

“I’m really excited to go where I played my major junior career, and excited about the staff – [Wildcats head coach] Darren Rumble is a great coach, and I’m really excited to work with him,” Hepditch said, adding he felt “a basket of emotions” when he found out he had landed the job.

“The nerves kick in, and it’s bittersweet, because my wife and I really enjoy St. Stephen, and we’re sad that we’ll be leaving.”

Though Hepditch will be sporting the blue and red of the Wildcats very shortly, he said he plans to do whatever he can to help with the Aces transition period.

“I’m still going to do whatever I can with transition period, and I’ve communicated with them throughout the process. It’s not something I’m just going to dump on anyone. My heart is still in St. Stephen, and I really want to see them do well.”

Though Hepditch will have a busy schedule ahead of him as the Wildcats new assistant coach, he said he “would love” to catch the occasional Aces game.

“We’ve made some good friends in St. Stephen. I hope there’s an opportunity to give back; it’s nice that it’s not too far away,” Hepditch said, and acknowledged the “overwhelming support” he and his family received during his time in the town.

“I want to be able to thank the town and the Aces and the fans for everything that they’ve done, not just for me, but for my whole family.

“Everyone was so positive, whether it was a fan or player, everyone always helped. We think it’s a great community, and we’ve seen so many positive changes in the community during our time there, and we hope it continues down that road.”

Though Hepditch’s original one year contract with the Aces was extended by two years, slated to expire in 2018, Aces President John Hyslop said the organization had no plans to hold him back.

“Whoever we pick is going to be well qualified; were going to be looking for a person who knows how to coach, but who is also is good in the community – that’s important. We’re looking for a people person as well as a hockey person.” – John Hyslop, Aces president

“It’s bittersweet – we’re going to miss Josh, but his motto is ‘once an Ace, always an Ace’, and I think that will hold true to him as well.

“He is leaving on good terms, and we’re all friends – we wish him only the best,” Hyslop said, stressing the importance the MHL is not just about the development of the players, but also of the coaches.

Hyslop said Hepditch is still slated to participate in the Aces golf tournament in mid July, and said the Aces Hockey School, scheduled for August, will run as planned.

No decision has been made regarding the vacancy, but Hyslop said the process has started to find a replacement, and will be named in the coming weeks.

“Whoever we pick is going to be well qualified; were going to be looking for a person who knows how to coach, but who is also is good in the community – that’s important. We’re looking for a people person as well as a hockey person.”

Hepditch played for the Moncton Wildcats for four years, and was a part of the team when they won the President’s Cup in the 2005-2006 season. Later, competing nationally, the team later fell in the Memorial Cup final.

After his stint in the QMJHL, Hepditch began his education degree at the University of New Brunswick at the age of 20, where he played for the Varsity Reds and competed in four national championships in a row, with the Reds winning three and coming in second in the fourth year.

Following his graduation from UNB, Hepditch played in the East Coast Hockey League with both the Missouri Mavericks, and the Allen Americans before starting his coaching career in Creston Valley, B.C. with the junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. While in BC, Hepditch won coach of the year.

Hepditch moved on to spend a year as the head coach of the Amherst Ramblers in Nova Scotia before starting for the Aces.

He was also the head coach for Team New Brunswick in the recent 2017 Gatorade Excellence Challenge and has been selected as head coach for the New Brunswick boys hockey team in the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, A.B.

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Kate Scott
Quickly approaching her third year with the Courier, award winning journalist Kate is not only an outstanding sports reporter and photographer, but can tackle any subject sent her way. A native of St. Stephen, Kate loves to cover the people and events of Charlotte County. She can be reached at 321-0746.