The new head coach and general manager for the Richardson Pioneer Red Wings, Cody Mapes, is “excited” to take on the new hockey season and new duties behind the bench.
Mapes was named to the positions on Wednesday, the day after the Red Wings announced a “parting of the ways” with Rich Pilon. No explanation for the firing was given, as team president Brent Stephanson said there were legal reasons they cannot go into the circumstances.
Mapes has been the assistant coach for the past two years, and comes to his new position with a lot of enthusiasm and a binder full of notes, accumulated from when he was a player and a coach at the bantam level in Regina.
With the announcement of Mapes as the new coach, Stephanson said, “We’re really excited to have him on board with his hockey knowledge and enthusiasm.”
“There are going to be challenges with the culture of the team,” said Mapes. “We’ve got a great support base in town with the fans and volunteers. Everybody’s been really positive.”
The binder of notes, which he brought to the interview for the head coach position, was started about eight years ago, and has a list of things he’s learned from coaches he’s had as a player and has coached alongside with, including in the past two years.
“I’ve learned a lot in the last two years, about how the league works and about the players. My philosophy has been developed through my playing career and at college,” said Mapes, adding he picked what he liked and noted what he didn’t like about various coaches. “It was good to learn from them. You figure out what they were trying to do, and you look back now and see what their goals were. You can always learn something from people.”
“He told us he had a 10-year plan to be a coach in the SJHL, and this is year 8,” added Stephanson. “His demeanour is good, he has a different style than Rich for sure. We’re very much looking forward to when the puck drops for the new season.”
“My goals were to coach bantam for a number of years and hopefully move up to midget and the junior levels. This fast-tracked my goals a little bit. The Weyburn Red Wings have an incredible history, and I am humbled and excited to be a part of this great organization,” said Mapes.
As a player, he spent four years at Portage College and played in the ACAC before going on to Notre Dame and Neepawa. He coached Bantam AA in Regina prior to coming to be an assistant to Pilon.
Nathan Deck was the first assistant coach named, with the announcement made on Saturday. He played minor hockey in Weyburn before going on to play AAA in Notre Dame, then four seasons with Prince Albert in the WHL.
From there Deck began his professional career in the ECHL with the Stockton Thunder, and he had the opportunity to play in the AHL with Oklahoma before making the trek overseas to play in Germany and Sweden.
Prior to his leaving the team, Pilon had been recruiting players for the Red Wings, and Mapes said the team will honour any commitments made to players.
“I’ve talked to them all, and they’re all coming to training camp. We’ve got some high-end recruits and there are potentially two more that will be trying out,” he said.
One player who has indicated he will be returning to Weyburn is former Red Wing Nick Dobson, acquired from the Cranbrook Bucks in the BCHL. Dobson played for the Red Wings in 2019-20 and accumulated 13 points in 42 games.
“It’s going to be an exciting year. We have competitive guys, and everybody’s excited about the moving forward. We’re very optimistic about this year,” said Mapes.
The fall training camp will be going ahead on the weekend of Sept. 3-5. This will be followed by exhibition games, with the first one against Estevan on Sunday, Sept. 5 at 7:30 p.m., and the start of the new season is on Sept. 24, as earlier announced by the SJHL.