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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex 73’s welcome back familiar faces behind the bench 

by Garrett Fodor 

The Essex 73’s has stopped its coaching search for this season; bringing in someone with a long resume and a winning pedigree locally. 

  On Wednesday, the 73’s announced a new head Coach and Assistants had been found, and it is a familiar bunch, headlined by Tony Piroski, Jamie McDermott, and Lee Jones.

  Piroski steps into the 73’s with 15 regular season games remaining, as the club prepares for a final stretch, battling for first place with the Lakeshore Canadiens. 

  “Honestly, I think having Tony step in is a perfect fit,” 73’s General Manager, Mike Pailey, said. “We feel he has got a pretty good situation, with a pretty good group to work with here. We feel the way Tony manages practices and games will truly benefit this group. We feel his biggest asset will be implementing systems in place, which will help us over the top.”

  Piroski is no stranger to coaching in Essex, first becoming Head Coach for the 2001-2002 season. Piroski went on to coach in Essex for nine-years, winning seven league championships, three Schmalz Cup Championships, and making six Schmalz Cup Appearances. Piroski made the jump to the Leamington Flyers, where he coached for eight seasons, most recently in the 2017-2018 season. 

  “It’s funny, a lot of the players we have here now, were fans growing up and watched Tony coach,” Pailey noted with a laugh. “Even the guys like Piccolo, Martineau, McKibbin, they just missed him in Leamington, but all know who he is. He comes into our room with a tremendous respect and attention immediately, and we think in our introductions to the players it’s been abundantly clear.”

  Piroski makes his debut behind the bench on December 19, before the club heads into a holiday break. 

  While Pailey admits he never envisioned himself stepping behind the bench, given the circumstances he understood and chooses to look at the bright side, having an up close look at the inner workings of the roster. He hopes to use that to identify the missing puzzle pieces for Piroski and the roster. He added that he does not know if they would’ve got him in the off-season, but he is happy to have him onboard for the remainder of the season.

  Pailey said he has been happy to add Seth Martineau and Luc Blanchette into the fold, following a pair of defensemen getting bit by the injury bug. He adds he’s hoping to add a few more pieces ahead of the New Year’s roster freeze. Lastly, Pailey added he’s excited for the fans to see the Piroski era of the 73’s.

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