ECHL: Iowa Heartlanders Hire Key Assistant, Announce Season-Ending Roster

Coralville, Iowa- On June 18th, Derek Damon made his first new hiring since having his coaching staff poached. His associate, Joe Exter, was poached by a junior hockey club, and training staff got promoted to the AHL’s Iowa Wild. Kevin Schmidt will complete the coaching staff, joining Damon and Video Coach Eric Michaud as the men behind the bench for the 2024/25 season.

Schmidt came out of college and made his way to the ECHL, where he played for the now-rival Wheeling Nailers before heading to Europe for a long and successful career in the elite leagues abroad. He and Damon both had this path; starting in NCAA College Hockey, brief stints in the US Minor Leagues, and finding a place to thrive overseas before entering into ECHL coaching.

The expectations for the rookie coach and his colleagues will be high as fans hope for a playoff push.

Also, Iowa submitted their end-of-season roster to the ECHL on June 24th.

Who made The Cut

Goaltenders (2): Drew DeRidder, Peyton Jones

Defensemen (6): Jules Boscq, Ben Brinkman, Louka Henault, Hunter Lellig, Chris Lipe, Justin Wells

Forwards (12): Nicholas Blachman, Will Calverley, Nick Campoli, Liam Coughlin, Jake Durflinger, Adam Goodsir, Davis Koch, Yuki Miura, Jack Perbix, Dakota Raabe, Jonny Sorenson, Odeen Tufto

Matt Brassard, Ethan Burroughs, Gavin Hain, Riley Hughes, Tanner MacMaster, and Kevin McKernan were the six players from the protected list announced two weeks ago who did not make the end-of-season roster. Hughes and MacMaster are already under contract for new teams in different leagues, and their rights still belong to the Heartlanders should the players seek a return to the ECHL. Gavin Hain is likely in the same boat after spending most of his 2023-24 season with the Iowa Wild. Burroughs and Brassard are simply two skaters who the Heartlanders had to make the tough decision to not include them on the roster, while McKernan’s absence from the list is due to extenuating circumstances.

On the other hand, the inclusion of Tufto and Koch on the roster, both of whom left mid-season to play abroad, is a measure taken that allows the Heartlanders to protect their rights for next season should they choose to re-enter the ECHL.

Other key Heartlanders from the 2023-24 Season are under contract by the Minnesota or Iowa Wild. The AHL will have a similar process begin come the conclusion of their the Calder Cup Playoffs.

With the announcement of the ECHL’s end-of-season rosters, free agency officially begins for the league.

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