Jeremy Rebek takes the helm as new head coach of NOJHL’s Soo Eagles

He was the first choice of president and general manager Bruno Bragagnolo to become the new head coach of the Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

So, suffice to say that Bragagnolo got what he wanted in Jeremy Rebek.

The 48-year-old Rebek has spent the past three seasons as a valuable assistant coach with the Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL. He also had a previous relationship with the Thunderbirds as a highly successful assistant several years ago.

Now, Rebek takes over as the Eagles head coach following the recent departure of Doug Laprade. Laprade, who had been the Eagles bench boss since 2018, has since joined the AAA Under 18 Soo Indians as head coach and part owner.

Back to Rebek and his being the first choice of aforementioned Eagles president and GM Bruno Bragagnolo to replace Laprade. To be sure, Bragagnolo did his homework on Rebek before offering him the job as head coach of the Eagles.

“Jeremy is well respected … actually very well respected for his knowledge of the game and the way he relates to players,” Bragagnolo told Sault This Week. “He played the game at a high level for a long time and he has good contacts in the game. I like the way he sees the game as a coach. You can tell just by talking to him that he has a real mind for the game. Everyone who I talked to about him can’t say enough about his hockey knowledge and him being such a smart coach. He had a lot to do with the success that the Thunderbirds have had on two different stints that he had with them.”

All in all, Rebek was part of three NOJHL championship teams with the Thunderbirds as a chief strategist.

During his playing days, Rebek first left his Sault Ste. Marie home as a 17-year-old in the beginning of what would be three seasons as an overachieving defenceman with the Owen Sound Platers of the Ontario Hockey League. A ninth-round pick by Owen Sound at the 1995 OHL priority selections draft, Rebek would go on to suit up in 201 games for the Platers and total 27 goals, 113 assists, 140 points as a rock solid, 5-foot-11, 185-pound defender.

Then came a long and winding professional hockey career that would eventually lead him to Austria, Northern Ireland and Italy before finally retiring as a player at the age of 37. Those 17 years of next level hockey also included time with the Laurentian University Voyageurs in Sudbury and various minor pro outposts with teams such as the Missouri River Otters, Toledo Storm, Kansas City Blades, Mississippi Sea Wolves, Rockford Ice Hogs, Milwaukee Admirals and Chicago Wolves before heading off to see more of the world.

It was while Rebek was in Sudbury that he met his future wife, Alexandra Smith, and she would join him on his hockey journey that finally ended overseas when he was still a point-per-game defenceman at the age of 37. And it was while playing in Belfast, Northern Ireland that Rebek combined scoring 42 points in 42 games as an aging defenceman with getting his masters degree from the University of Ulster.

Randy Russon, Contributor
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