The West Kelowna Warriors Junior ‘A’ Hockey Club announced Monday that associate head coach and assistant general manager Shae Naka has accepted a position at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy and will not be returning to the Warriors bench for the 2018/19 season.
Naka, 27, spent the last six seasons with the Warriors, starting as a video coach with the club through the 2012/13 season and moving to the associate head coach/assistant general manager role ahead of the 2015/16 season while running the defense for the Warriors. Naka was behind the bench for the entirety of the Warriors championship run and hoisted the Fred Page Cup, Western Canada Cup and the RBC Cup in 2016.
Prior to his time in coaching, the West Kelowna, BC native played two seasons with the Kamloops Storm in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) where he played in a total of 86 games with the Storm, collecting 9 goals and 26 assists for 35 points along with 72 penalty minutes. Naka also appeared in 9 games with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs where he registered 2 assists in his time as an affiliate player during the 2008/09 season.
Warriors Head Coach and General Manager Rylan Ferster knows it will be a big void to fill beside him on the West Kelowna bench for the upcoming season, “Shae has meant so much to this program since he arrived here and is a big part of this team’s successes over the last few seasons,” commented Ferster, “He is one of the smartest hockey minds I have had the chance to be around and he will be missed behind the bench.”
“Hockey is a business about new opportunities and new challenges,” continued the Warriors bench boss, “Shae is three simple things: a great person, a great friend and a great coach. He will remain all of those things. We wish him all the best.”
“I’d like to thank Mark Cheyne, Rylan Ferster and Brent Gough for welcoming me to the organization six years ago,” said Naka, “It has been an honour to be a part of my hometown organization and is an experience that I will never forget. It has been a difficult decision to move on but I wish Rylan and the Warriors the best of luck moving forward.”
The Warriors would like to thank Shae for his time and contributions to the team and wish him and his family the best in his future hockey endeavours.