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NEWS | Winnipeg Blues Expand Coaching and Player Development Staff for 2022-2023 Season

Winnipeg Blues Head Coach and General Manager Alex Mandolidis confirmed today the 2022-23 Winnipeg Blues Coaching and Player Development Staff.

Zach Heisinger and Austin Lauder both return as Assistant Coaches for their third season behind the Blues bench.  Heisinger played two seasons in the MJHL with the Winkler Flyers and Neepawa Natives franchises.  After his playing career, Zach was the assistant coach with the Vincent Massey Trojans High School Team and coached one season with the Fort Garry Twins in the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League.

Austin Lauder played for the University of Manitoba Bisons after four seasons in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey league splitting time with the Winnipeg Blues, Portage Terriers, and Notre Dame Hounds.

Byron Spriggs begins his second season as the Blues Goaltending Coach.  The Winnipeg product is Bison alumni, having backstopped their program for five seasons. In three of those seasons, he was named the Bison’s most valuable player. Spriggs also played three seasons for the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, winning a league championship and was named playoff MVP in 2014.  Since moving on from playing, Byron has goalie coached at the University of Manitoba for the past 3 seasons, and the past 2 with the Winnipeg ICE. Recently, he was selected to goalie coach with Hockey Canada’s Under 17 program, and to represent Manitoba as a goalie coach at the U16 Canada Games.

Larry Woo joins the program as a Skill Development Coach.  As a player, Woo spent two seasons in the WHL with the Victoria Cougars and Swift Current Broncos prior to his four years at the University of Manitoba. Since founding the Laker Hockey Academy in 2008, Woo has dedicated his time to hockey development in Winnipeg working with many AAA, WHL and professional hockey players.

Mel Davidson joins the Blues player development staff overseeing Culture and Leadership.  Mel was a member and a coach of Team Alberta at the Canada Winter Games in 1991, 1995 and 1999. She spent three seasons as the head coach of the women’s hockey team at Connecticut College from 1997-2000. She was also the head coach of the Cornell University women’s hockey team from 2002-2005.  From 2006-2009 Mel served as the assistant coach of the Calgary Canucks in the AJHL. Internationally, Mel has represented Canada at five Winter Olympics, three in a coaching capacity and two as a General Manager, bringing home four Olympic gold medals and one silver medal.  Mel also serves as Team Consultant with the Winnipeg ICE.

Derek Tarko comes to the Blues as the Strength and Conditioning Coach.  Derek graduated from the University of Manitoba in 2019 with a Bachelor of Kinesiology and a Minor in Athletic Therapy. While working to become a Certified Athletic Therapist he worked the 2019-2020 season as a game day assistant with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. Tarko spent the 2021-2022 season as the Athletic Therapist, Strength & Conditioning Coach for the WHL’s Winnipeg ICE. He continues to work with the ICE as an Assistant Athletic Therapist.

Lindsay Berard joins the Blues as Mental Skills Coach.  As a C. Psych Candidate and Mental Performance Consultant, Lindsay has worked to raise individuals, teams, and organizations in all areas of business, sport, performance, and life. Lindsay loves to break boundaries and draws techniques and strategies from a variety of areas to demand more in the mental health and performance arenas.

Justine Fredette also joins as a Mental Skills Coach for the Blues.  She comes from a background of elite athletics. From her experience and understanding of what it takes to be in high performing spaces, she dedicates her career to finding the human behind the performance. Whether it’s working with individuals in high pressure careers, elite athletes, or teams, Justine takes a holistic approach to elevating one’s performance and humanity.

Lana DeBeer returns as Athletic Therapist for her 21st season with the Winnipeg Blues as a Certified Athletic Therapist. She is a Registered Orthopedic Technologist and works as a supervisor in the Casting Department at Pan Am Clinic. Lana is the current president of the Manitoba Society of Orthopedic Technologists and is on the Ethics Committee for the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association.

Tommy Howell also returns for his second season with the Blues but first as the Director, Athlete Performance.