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Colts trot out familiar face as team's new coach, GM

Marty Williamson started his OHL coaching career when he became head coach of the Barrie Colts for the 2004-05 season
From left are Barrie Colts assistant coach Chris Dennis, general manager and head coach Marty Williamson, owner and president Howie Campbell, assistant coach Taylor Carnevale, goalie coach David Belitski, and assistant general manager Rob Stewart. Image supplied

The Barrie Colts announced today the hiring of the team's new general manager, head coach and coaching staff.

“It’s not easy to replace Dale Hawerchuk. Since his passing some 18 months ago, there is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him and his love for the game," said Colts president Howie Campbell.

"Our longest-serving head coach, for 10 years he set a very high standard for winning and producing quality hockey players, many of which are playing pro hockey today. After much debate and consideration, and with very strong conviction toward winning a league championship and a Memorial Cup, I am pleased to announce our new head coach and general manager is Marty Williamson. 

"Marty is no stranger to our league, and definitely no stranger to the Colts organization,” said Campbell.

"I have 100 per cent confidence that he will be able to deliver us a championship season. As a coach his record and numbers speak for themselves. When Dale fell ill, Marty stepped up in an advisory role and helped us make many trades that have benefited the club now and in the future.

"We have more draft picks then we have had in years and we have a great stable of both veteran and young players to build upon in the future. Marty is somebody I know will pick up the torch and help us win,” he added.

“My family and I are extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity to be back in Barrie. We have family and friends in Barrie and friends within the Colts organization," said Williamson.

"To return to the organization that gave me my start in the OHL is a very special feeling. We have an exciting team and during my conversations with Howie, we both are totally committed to bringing a league championship to the fans of Barrie. We have come so close a few times and I believe that together we can win,” he added.

Williamson started his OHL coaching career when he became the head coach of the Barrie Colts for the 2004-05 season. He was with Barrie until the 2010-11 season, when he moved to Niagara to become the head coach of the IceDogs. His record as a coach in the OHL speaks for itself.

In his 12 years coaching in the OHL, Williamson has led a team to the OHL final three times and he has never missed the playoffs. His record of 457-296-9-54 is extremely impressive.

During those 12 seasons, he led the Colts to six playoff appearances, two conference championship series appearances, winning one conference championship title in the 2009-10 season. In Niagara, he led the IceDogs to six playoff appearances including two conference championship titles in the 2010-11 and 2015-16 seasons.

As head coach at Brock University starting in 2017, he led the team to the Queen’s Cup final and their first appearance at the USPORTS championships in 10 years. In his second season, Williamson and the men’s hockey team recorded a school-record 19 wins (19-5-4-0) and reached the second round of the OUA playoffs.

Williamson was named Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Coach of the Year twice during his three seasons with Brock and exits with an overall record of 47-26-9-2, including three consecutive trips to the post-season.

Chris Dennis is joining the Colts as assistant coach after three years in the Vegas Golden Knights organization as an assistant coach with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. Dennis helped the team to a 2019 Calder Cup finals appearance and was responsible for the defence and penalty kill.

Prior to his time in Chicago, Dennis was the head coach of the men’s hockey team at York University. Dennis guided the team to an OUA championship and national finals berth in 2017 and was named the OUA West Coach of the Year in 2016 and 2017.

Dennis began his coaching career with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005 as video coach rising through the ranks and being named assistant coach for the club from 2013-2015.

“I feel very lucky to have Chris Dennis and Taylor Carnevale who will be joining me on the bench with David Belitski as our goalie coach. Chris is an experienced coach that will do a great job with our defence," said Williamons.

"Taylor returns with a knowledge of our team and is an up-and-coming coach that I have had a long relationship with and David is a very experienced goalie coach that is a great addition for us. I look forward to working with them and with assistant GM Rob Stewart to bring a winning team to Barrie,” said Williamson.

The Barrie Colts are looking forward to a great season with a great team on and off the ice.