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Rivermen pull O’Rouke away from the Heat

Steve O'Rourke (centre)

While he loved his last job as an assistant coach with the Abbotsford Heat, Steve O'Rourke knew he would need to step away.

On Thursday, O'Rourke was announced as the head coach of the junior A Langley Rivermen at a press conference at the Langley Events Centre.

"For me, (this) is a good step to get head coaching experience," he said.

"Another big reason for me was family.

"The Abbotsford Heat, I love the level, I love where I was at, but ultimately, I had to give more time to my family."

O'Rourke, who celebrated his wedding anniversary on Wednesday, has a 12-year-old and a seven-year-old.

"My commitment here will be at the same level, but in Abbotsford we travel a lot," he added.

"Just that amount of time away from two kids and a growing family, it was a lot."

O'Rouke was approached by Rivermen co-owner Roy Henderson to take the job.

Henderson said he was looking for a teacher when he filled the role.

"The main aspect of coaching is teaching," Henderson said. "I guarantee they will be very well coached."

Henderson also added that the team will place a priority on helping develop players in the Fraser Valley, and Langley specifically.

"I am excited about building a team you can be proud of, a team with character, leadership, integrity, and above all, a huge amount of work ethic," O'Rourke told the press conference.

"I am excited about being part of this program going forward."

O'Rourke, whose professional playing career involved seven seasons in Europe, the ECHL and the UHL, earned his masters in sport management after completing his bachelor of arts in kinesiology at the University of Lethbridge.

Prior to joining the Heat, he spent three years working as the head instructor at the Okanagan Hockey Academy, so going from coaching pro men to teenage boys is not something new.

"The pros were good to work with, but for the most part, it was refining those skills," he explained. "Here it is going to be teaching the game again.

"System-wise in Abbotsford, you only had to tell them once and they got it.Here it is going to have to be told several times, several different ways, and that is what I am excited about, the teaching part of it."

O'Rourke will be joined behind the bench by assistant coaches Bobby Henderson, Roy Henderson's eldest son, and Jordan Emmerson.

Both coached junior B with the Mission Icebreakers last season.

Pasco Valana will serve as the team's goaltending coach, while Wayne Hubbard will be the team's trainer.

Hubbard will be helped by longtime Langley junior hockey fan John Anderson, who served the same role with the Langley Chiefs.

Ross Beebe will maintain his role as the team's educational advisor.

The Rivermen also announced Kirk Starr as their head scout.

And Taylor Henderson, Roy Henderson's youngest son, will serve as the Rivermen's director of operations.

The team is also co-owned by John Henderson, Roy's brother.

The team also announced a rash of new signings: Michael Barr, Raymond Bell, Valik Chichkin, Nicholas Gushue, Sebastian Pare, Justin Parizek, Bo Pellah, Jackson Playfair, Brandt Soukup, Derek Sutliffe and Daniel Vlanich.

The press conference was also attended by returning players: Ryan Bakken, Tyler Miller, Mason Blacklock, Mike Tebbutt, Darnell Dyck, Austin Plevy, Brandon Scholten, Josh Hansen and Kody Dhaliwal.

The club also announced that they had signed Ben Butcher, the son of former Vancouver Canuck Garth Butcher, as an affiliate player for next season.