The coaching staff is now complete for the Estevan Bruins, as Phil Fife has been hired by the club as one of the two assistant coaches under new head coach and general manager Jason Tatarnic for the 2020/21 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League season.
Fife joins Aren Miller, returning for his eighth consecutive season as assistant coach. Dylan Lafrentz will also be returning as the club’s athletic trainer strength coach for his sixth consecutive season to round out the Bruins staff behind the bench.
“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work for such a first class organization like the Estevan Bruins,” said Fife. “After talking with Jason about the opportunity to coach with him in Estevan, it was an easy decision to make.
“I look forward to coaching and learning from Jason and the rest of the staff. Likewise, I’m looking forward to working with the players and becoming a member of the Estevan community. I want to thank the entire Bruins organization for making me feel welcome from day one.”
Fife is relatively new to the coaching ranks as the 27-year-old from Oromocto, N.B., is only two seasons removed from playing hockey with the University of Waterloo Warriors for four years. Before that, Fife had a four-year junior A hockey career split between the Truro Bearcats and the Woodstock Slammers in the Maritime Junior Hockey League (MJAHL).
Fife played two seasons under Tatarnic with the Slammers, from 2010-12, winning an MJAHL title in 11-12 and advancing to the RBC Cup national championship game in Humboldt, which the Slammers lost 4-3 in the final minute to the Penticton Vees. Fife then played his next two seasons with the Bearcats, capping off his junior career with another MJAHL championship in 2013-14 and once again playing in the RBC Cup tournament.
Fife would finish with 149 points in 199 regular season games, adding 55 playoff games and 10 RBC Cup games for a total of 264 games of Junior A playing experience and two league championships.
“We are very excited to add Phil to our coaching staff. Phil was an excellent player during his time with me in Woodstock,” said Tatarnic. “Here was a player that did everything and anything to win hockey games. He had great character with a high work ethic.
“As a junior player, Phil has played in two national championship tournaments. He knows what it takes to be successful and he can provide some great insight of what it’s like to play in the Centennial Cup for our players. We share the same values and it’s a great opportunity to learn from each other.”
Fife broke into the coaching world last season with the Bruins’ Viterra Division rival, the Melville Millionaires. Fife served under former Millionaires’ head coach Kyle Adams as an assistant, but Fife became available following the departure of Adams from Melville in late February.
Fife takes over for former Bruins’ associate coach Jeff Smith, as Smith left the club following the season to become the head coach and GM of the Estevan Bears U18 AAA team for their inaugural season in 2020/21.