COLUMBUS, Ga. – We’re a little less than four months from the puck drop on the inaugural season of the Columbus River Dragons in the Federal Prospects Hockey League, but the structure of the team is starting to take shape. On Friday, the team announced its coaching staff for the upcoming season: assistant coaches Gary Gill and Jerome Bechard and player/assistant Jay Croop.
Gill is a coaching veteran making his second trip to the FPHL after coaching the Rome Frenzy during the league’s first season. He’s also coached teams in the East Coast Hockey League, Canadian Hockey League and Western States Hockey League in his career. His most recent coaching stint was in Oklahoma City with a team that he also owns.
“I’m excited about the fans and atmosphere, the fans are outrageous and wildly supportive of the team. It’s very exciting for me and my family to come to a place that has the hockey heritage that Columbus has,” Gill said.
Bechard is widely regarded as the face of Columbus hockey after spending nine seasons on the ice as a member of the Columbus Cottonmouths and coaching the team from there until the team’s folding in 2016. He is one of a select few that has a jersey hanging in the rafters inside the Columbus Civic Center.
“I am very excited to be back on the ice coaching and having a direct impact on teaching the game and the importance of set goals and achieving them as a team,” Bechard said.
Rounding out the coaching staff is player/coach Jay Croop. Croop is in his fifth season as a player in the FPHL, winning the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup last season with the Carolina Thunderbirds. He had 11 goals and 13 assists during the 2018-19 season. The 2019-20 season will mark his first as a player-coach.
Columbus opens their season on October 25th at Delaware, with the home opener on November 1st vs. Elmira.