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Former Coquitlam Express coach headed to University of Maine

Former Coqutilam Express coach, Jason Fortier, is the new assistant coach at the University of Maine.
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Former Coquitlam Express coach Jason Fortier is the assistant coach at the University of Maine.

A former coach of the Coquitlam Express is on the move.

Jason Fortier, who guided the Express to the BC Hockey League’s (BCHL) regular season championship in 2019-20 is headed to the University of Maine, where he’ll be an assistant to the Black Bears' freshly-minted boss, Ben Barr.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. product left the Express shortly after the BCHL playoffs were cancelled in March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The team had defeated the Langley Rivermen in four straight games in the first round and seemed poised to go on a long run in the post-season after winning 47 of 58 games in the regular campaign.

Last season, Fortier coached the Odessa Jackalopes, a Tier II junior team in Texas that is part of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

The Jackalopes finished out of the playoffs with a 12-36-4-4 record.

“I am excited to get started and thrilled to be a member of the Black Bears program,” Fortier said in a statement posted to the University of Maine’s website.

Fortier spent three seasons behind the bench for the Express, taking the helm from Barry Wolff in November 2017. In that time, he amassed 87 wins, 51 losses and 11 ties.

The Black Bears play in the NCAA Div. 1 Hockey East. The team reached the quarter-finals of the conference’s championship tournament in 2020 before its scheduled game against the University of Connecticut Huskies was abruptly cancelled by the public health emergency.

Last year, Maine finished conference play with three wins, 11 losses and two ties. The team was ousted from the Hockey East tournament after losing 7-2 to the University of New Hampshire in the first round.

Barr was named the Bears’ new head coach last May after long-time coach Dennis 'Red' Gendron died suddenly in April.

The 63-year-old had been behind the team’s bench since 2013.