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Former Bulls assistant coach enjoying success down the 401

 

After spending eight seasons as an assistant coach with the Belleville Bulls, Jason Surpyka has now taken on the same role with the Kingston Frontenacs. Photo courtesy of the Ontario Hockey League.

After spending eight seasons as an assistant coach with the Belleville Bulls, Jason Surpyka has now taken on the same role with the Kingston Frontenacs. Photo courtesy of the Ontario Hockey League.

By Cam Kennedy [1]

BELLEVILLE –  Former Belleville Bulls [2] assistant coach, Jason Supryka has been a key part of the Kingston Frontenacs [3] coaching staff this season.

After eight seasons with the Bulls, Supryka, a Belleville native, made the move down Highway 401 after the Bulls were sold and moved to Hamilton last year.

“Darren Keily, the assistant general manager here in Kingston, checked in with me periodically over the summer.  He had wanted to see if I was fortunate enough to find anything elsewhere in the league,” Supryka said. “We just kind of kept in touch. A need came up in Kingston and I made the decision to join the team.”

Supryka is now part of a Frontenacs team that is currently in first place in the OHL’s Eastern Conference. He handles assistant coaching duties behind the bench with John Goodwin and head coach Paul McFarland.

Since Supryka joined Kingston, McFarland noted that his new assistant coach has been a key part to the team’s success.

“Jason has done an especially good job with the forwards after practice,” McFarland said. “He’s been trying to help us create more offence as far as individual skills go.”

Supryka said his role with this squad is a little different than it was with the Bulls.

“I’ve got a lot more input here in Kingston,” he said. “I spent a lot of time with George (Burnett, former Bulls’ head coach) and Jake (Grimes, former Bulls’ assistant coach). I kind of got tunnel vision on doing things a certain way. It’s been really refreshing working with new people.”

When Kingston travelled to Hamilton in October to face the Bulldogs, Supryka said seeing players that he worked with on another team was tough.

“As an assistant coach, you build special relationships with these young men. They depend on you quite a bit as a form of communication or a pipeline to the head coach,” he said. “I had some great relationships with some of the young guys that are in Hamilton.”

Supryka commutes back and forth to Kingston from Belleville. He still hears from Bulls fans from time to time. Most of the time these discussions occur at the Yardmen Arena, where the Bulls used to play and where his son now plays AAA hockey.

“We usually have coffee shop conversations about how they feel about the team being gone or whether another team is going to come back,” he said.

Supryka mentioned that usually when a coach changes teams, their whole life goes with them to the new city. However, with Surpyka still living in Belleville, he says he wears everyone’s feelings about losing the Bulls.

“Running into fans that kind of miss the Belleville Bulls and miss that attachment with the players – that’s been the hardest thing to deal with.”

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