Victoria (ISN) – The Victoria Grizzlies Hockey Club has announced the appointment of Geoff Courtnall and Ryan O’Byrne as the first members of its newly-established Alumni Advisory Board.
The Alumni Advisory Board will include former coaches and players, all of whom have gone on to achieve success at higher levels. They will advise the General Manager and ownership group on all aspects of the organization, with a focus on hockey operations and the development model for players to follow in their footsteps towards educational goals and hockey careers.
“To have access to the experience and expertise of people such as Geoff Courtnall and Ryan O’Byrne who have reached the pinnacle of our sport will help make the Victoria Grizzlies one of the top player destinations in the BCHL,” said Bill Bestwick, Grizzlies GM and Head Coach.
Courtnall returns to the Grizzlies as an Alumni Head Coach, coaching the team in 2008/09, including the Royal Bank Cup hosted by the Grizzlies. Courtnall was a local minor hockey player who played one year in the BCHL on route to a successful 17-year career in the NHL.
“I am honoured to be asked to be a member of the new Alumni Advisory Board for the Grizzlies,” said Courtnall. “I am a huge supporter of player education through hockey, including guiding my son Justin to the Junior “A” and NCAA route. Hockey can provide so many opportunities for players today, and I look forward to working with the Grizzlies organization to make it one of the best in Canada.”
Geoff Courtnall returns to the Victoria Grizlies as a member of the new Alumni Advisory Board (File Photo by Christian J. Stewart – ISN)
The first Alumni player to be appointed to the board is current NHLer Ryan O’Byrne. O’Byrne chose the Junior “A” path and attended Cornell University in the NCAA, which lead to the NHL. Now in his sixth season as a professional player, and currently with the Colorado Avalanche (formerly Montreal), O’Byrne has played in over 265 games. O’Byrne played his minor hockey locally, and was a member of the Grizzlies franchise from 2001-2003.
“It was great to hear about the new ownership and energy with the Grizzlies, and to hear that Billy [Bestwick] was the new GM and Head Coach,” said O’Byrne. “Junior hockey can be an important time for a player, and with the right program, support and determination, these years can lead to higher level opportunities both on the ice and in the classroom. I am excited to be involved and to help provide a player’s perspective to the program’s development.”
“It is a wonderful to have people like Geoff and Ryan who want to give back to the sport that has given them so much,” added Bestwick. “The Victoria Grizzlies organization has helped so many local athletes move on to the NCAA and the WHL, and ultimately the NHL, and it will be great for the team and the community to have these players back involved in junior hockey with the Victoria Grizzlies.”
Alumni Advisory Board members will provide their input and comments on a wide range of initiatives that will help set the Victoria Grizzlies apart from other junior programs. Board members will have regular meetings and opportunities throughout the year to participate and provide input to the Grizzlies owners, management, coaches, staff, volunteers and players.
Additional members of the Alumni Advisory Board will be announced in the future.