Assistant coach Taylor Shaw leads the Kenai River Brown Bears during a game Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Assistant coach Taylor Shaw leads the Kenai River Brown Bears during a game Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, against the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Brown Bears start search for new head coach

The Kenai River Brown Bears issued a press release Friday about staff changes.

The Bears announced they had parted ways with former head coach Josh Dubinsky, who was not on the bench starting with Thursday’s 4-2 victory over the Springfield (Illinois) Jr. Blues.

When Kevin Murdock resigned as head coach of the Bears late in the 2020-21 season, Dubinsky, then a Bears assistant, took over and went 1-3 to finish the regular season. He then led the Bears to a playoff series victory over the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets, the first for the Bears since beginning play in the 2007-08 season.

Kenai River went on to lose in Game 5 of the Midwest Division finals, just one victory short of the Robinson Cup Finals.

Just two days after that loss, Kenai River named Keenan Kelly head coach, promoting Dubinsky to associate head coach. Then Aug. 6, Kenai River announced Dubinsky had been named head coach after Kelly resigned to take a job with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads in Boise.

Dubinsky had led the team to a 3-16-0-0 record heading into Thursday’s game.

The press release said assistant coach Taylor Shaw will remain with the team as the Brown Bears conduct a search for a new head coach.

The release also said Kenai River has added Dan Daikawa of the Minnesota Advancement Program in the role of player development.

According to maphockey.com, MAP was created for individuals who want to compete alongside elite players and be challenge by elite coaches. According to the website, MAP staff have 60-plus years of playing experience in over 15 professional leagues, 60-plus years of collegiate coaching and playing experience and 30-plus years of junior experience.

The Bears will partner with MAP while in Minnesota.

“This is a great opportunity for our players while we are on the road in the lower 48,” Brown Bears general manager Chris Hedlund said in a released statement. “Having a state-of-the-art location to provide off ice workouts and the highly skilled staff at MAP, is a great addition to our time in Minnesota.”

The press release added that Daikawa, the lead instructor for MAP, will do on-ice player development while the team is in Minnesota. According to MAP, Daikawa has experience as coach and general manager in the North American Hockey League.

“Dan will be a great asset to the team,” Hedlund said in a released statement. “His background and experience both in playing and coaching will help our players immediately.

“His experience in the NAHL is invaluable. We are excited that he will be able to provide on-ice knowledge in practices and film support to bring our team’s game to the next level.”

Hedlund did not make himself available for an interview on the staff changes. Dubinsky, via text message, declined to comment on the staff changes.

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