The North York Rangers announced today that the club has hired Arron Alphonso as the organization’s new Midget ‘AAA’ coach ahead of the 2017-2018 Greater Toronto Hockey League season.
Alphonso, 28, served as an assistant under Junior ‘A’ head coach Geoff Schomogyi this past campaign, and will continue to take that post as often as time allows moving forward.
“I am extremely excited,” Alphonso said.
“It is really a great honour for me to be able to get this whole system back together where it was, with the midget and junior team working together strongly. Schomogyi and I came in last year in the off-season a little bit late, and it was tough to have the relationship that they had the last couple of years, to get that going, so hopefully we can get that back on the right foot, and to get the whole North York Rangers program back in the right direction and back towards the Telus Cup.”
A native of Orangeville, Ont., Alphonso played one year in the OPJHL in 2003-2004 with the Georgetown Raiders, before spending four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the Ottawa 67’s and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He then went on to play in 33 games with Lakehead University of Canadian Interuniversity Sport between 2008 and 2011.
Alphonso began his coaching career in the Toronto Marlboros organization of the the GTHL in 2013-14, and went on to spend three seasons with the Orangeville Flyers, also in the OJHL. He joined Geoff Schomogyi and Sean Teakle on the North York Rangers Junior ‘A’ bench this past year.
In conversation with the Junior website, Alphonso discussed his hope to instill a professional attitude in his young players, who will fall in the 2000 and 2001 birth-year age group next season.
“We are looking for guys that want to get to the next level,” he said.
“I want to make sure we’re putting guys in places where they can succeed. We have a goal in mind for the team to be completely dedicated to getting better every day, to be having fun and competing every day, and reaching the goals we set individually and as a team. One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that it isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon to get up to the next level – that’s the perspective you need. At the end of the day it’s all about development and the midget program is perfect for the guys that need the extra year to blossom, need that extra year of being the go-to guy or not having that pressure of the OHL draft on them. I’m looking forward to taking advantage of that and to be able to get them to the next level, which is what the midget program is in place for.”
The midget team had been run by Rob Vessio the last number of years, with his time at the helm culminating with a Telus Cup (midget national championship) in 2016. Nine different North York midget AAA alumni featured in a game for the Rangers Junior ‘A’ in the 2016-17 campaign, with two call-ups, Davis Park and Jesse Tucker, playing prominent roles on the club in the playoff run.
A thriving relationship between the midget and junior teams has proven crucial to the club in the past, and that closeness is certainly a stated goal of Alphonso, and junior coach Schomogyi.
“It is huge to have that connection,” said Alphonso.
“Jesse and Davis were crucial for us down the stretch and in the playoffs, and to give them big roles and for them to do well was important for them and for us. To give the midget guys a taste of the next level, to know what adjustments they need at the high level of junior hockey is important for everyone. It’s good to keep our best guys in house, and it really is beneficial both ways for the midget and junior teams to have a great relationship. To give those deserving an understanding what the junior hockey level is all about as soon as possible can only help with their development, and the development of the North York Rangers organization as a whole.”
Story by Jamie Neugebauer
Image by OJHL Images