The Iowa Heartlanders announced the promotions of Head Coach Gerry Fleming and Assistant Coach Derek Damon on Thursday.
According to a news release, Mr. Fleming has been promoted to General Manager and Head Coach, and Mr. Damon has been promoted to Assistant General Manager and Assistant Coach.
Mr. Fleming and Mr. Damon will now be responsible for all aspects of the team’s hockey operations, including executing roster moves and working with the Heartlanders affiliates to ensure a strong path for development from Coralville to the Iowa Wild and Minnesota Wild.
“Both Derek and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to take this next step forward and continue to build the Heartlanders into a first-class organization in the ECHL,” Mr. Fleming said, in the release. “We had a successful first season in many areas on the ice and we continue to work tirelessly to be the most successful team we can be heading into year two. We’d both like to thank Dean MacDonald, Glenn Stanford and the entire group at Deacon Sports & Entertainment for this opportunity of advancement and can’t wait to drop the puck again in October.”
According to the release, Iowa won 29 games in the team’s first season under Mr. Fleming’s and Mr. Damon’s direction, which included a record above hockey .500 after December.
The Heartlanders’ roster had the fewest games of professional experience of any team at the ECHL, AHL or NHL level. Mr. Fleming and Mr. Damon guided Iowa to a team-record seven-game winning streak from February 16 through March 5 that pushed Iowa into Central Division playoff contention. The Heartlanders had the league’s fourth-ranked power play, Jake Smith led the league in power-play goals, Ryan Kuffner led qualified forwards in points-per-game and Kris Bennett scored 35 goals, becoming the first ECHL rookie in 30 years to lead the league in tallies.
A Montreal, QC native, Mr. Fleming is preparing for his 25th consecutive season as a coach at the professional ranks in 2022-23. This season will be Mr. Fleming’s 10th as an ECHL Head Coach. He reached 900 games as a professional hockey Head Coach April 9, 2022 in the Heartlanders’ home finale vs. Indy. As a Head Coach at the ECHL level, Mr. Fleming has registered a record of 349-221-77 and has 470 career victories as a head coach.
Mr. Damon was named the team’s assistant coach in August 2021 and this past season was his first as a professional coach. The Bangor, Maine native played 14 professional seasons from 2006-20 after a standout career at the University of Maine. Prior to joining Iowa, Mr. Damon served as assistant coach and Director of Player Development for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL) in 2020-21.
The Heartlanders’ 2022-23 schedule is now available at iowaheartlanders.com/schedule as the team opens their second in the ECHL on October 21 at 7:05 p.m. vs. Idaho. Rose Club season ticket memberships, partial plans are available for the upcoming season by calling 319-569-GOAL and visiting iowaheartlanders.com.