The Brampton Beast of the ECHL (formerly the East Coast Hockey League) announced their fourth head coach in their history at a press conference on Wednesday. 34-year-old Spiros Anastas joins the Ontario-based club as their new head coach and Director of Hockey Operations. The Beast also named Duncan Dalmao as an assistant coach for the 2019-20 season.
The moves were prompted by the departure of previous coach Colin Chaulk, who leaves after four seasons in charge. Chaulk was recently promoted to an assistant coaching position with the Belleville Senators, the Beast’s AHL affiliate. Anastas has big shoes to fill as Chaulk coached Brampton to an ECHL playoff berth last season.
Homecoming for the Toronto Native
The head coaching position will have extra special meaning for Spiros Anastas. It will be an opportunity to move home and coach in his hometown after spending last season with the South Carolina Stingrays. In a coaching career that has taken him all across North America, it will be the first time he has coached in the Toronto area.
“Brampton and the rest of the West end mean a lot to us as a family. We have traveled cross-continent four times throughout my career. The unique privilege to be in our home area and be an impact in this community is one we take very seriously and it is a sentiment shared from management down to the players. We can’t wait to get going!”
It was an extensive application process for General Manager Cary Kaplan, who evaluated nearly 100 applicants in his search for a new coach. Anastas was the stand out applicant and brings such an extensive and varied resume for someone so young.
A Diverse Coaching Resume
Anastas started his coaching career as an assistant at Lebanon Valley College, an NCAA III team where he played the four years previous. He then moved to Western Michigan University for one year as an assistant under former NHL and Team Canada coach Andy Murray. That year he helped them win only their second Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) title in the school’s history.
His progression through the ranks continued, as Anastas spent the next two seasons as an assistant coach of the Detroit Red Wing’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Jeff Blashill, the current Red Wings’ head coach, was the head coach at the time. The pair of them helped lead the Griffins to glory in the 2013 Calder Cup Championship.
In 2014, Spiros Anastas was ready to make the jump to a head coaching role and joined the University of Lethbridge as their new head coach. He spent four seasons there before moving to South Carolina to take up the head coach and Director of Hockey Ops role with the Stingrays last season. He went 35-31-5-1 and led the Stingrays to the Kelly Cup playoffs, ultimately losing to the Orlando Solar Bears in the first round.
Anastas Also Brings an International Flavor
Not only does Anastas have an extensive club resume, but he also brings an array of experience from international hockey. Between 2014 and 2016 Anastas was involved with the South Korean men’s international team and U18 team. In 2015 both teams won gold at their respective championships, with Anastas in the head coach role for the U18 team. He then took up a position within the Estonia national team and was a bench coach for both their U18 and U20 teams at that year’s World Championships.
Anastas’ extensive experience with junior players will be a major benefit to the Brampton Beast. Their roster may end up containing prospects from the Ottawa Senators/Belleville Senators system, as well as first-year pros on ECHL contracts. Having a head coach in place with a proven record in the development of younger players will be extremely beneficial for the Beast and their affiliates.
Dalmao Becomes a Full-Time Assistant Coach
The other coach announced on Wednesday was more of a familiar face to the Brampton Beast. Duncan Dalmao had previously volunteered last season to help with coaching and player management and is rewarded by being named as a full-time assistant coach. He is a six-year veteran of the ECHL and was named ECHL Defenseman of the Year after putting up 57 points in the 2001-02 season. Fans of the Elite Ice Hockey League in the UK may also remember Dalmao, as he is a former Basingstoke Bison and London Racers player.
It is exciting times for Beast fans, with the team looking to build on their playoff berth from last season. It will be a tough act to follow for Anastas and Dalmao as they try to get Brampton to the next level. GM Cary Kaplan was extremely complimentary of their predecessors for how they’ve grown the club.
Kaplan said, “We were overwhelmed with both the quality and quantity of applicants for the Head Coaching position with the Brampton Beast. It is a credit to Colin Chaulk, Peter Goulet, and Freddie Lemay who over the past four years built a program that developed more AHL players than any other organization plus provided a determined and competitive hockey team in Brampton for the better part of four years.”
It is a little under three months until the Beast open their 2019-20 season. The hard work for Spiros Anastas starts now.
Feature Image Credit: Brampton Beast