Whalers Scout Mike Oliverio Moves to Hometown Team
Photo ID - top left, Joe Stefan; bottom left, scout Rick Boyle, center Mike Vellucci; bottom center, scout Dave McParlin; upper right, Mike Oliverio; right center, scout Tom Watson.
The Whalers graduate players to professional hockey on a regular basis. Sometimes, scouts move on as well.
The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds recently announced the hiring of Plymouth scout Mike Oliverio as an assistant coach with the ‘Hounds. Oliverio (pronounced olive-VAIR-oh) worked for several years for the Whalers as their Soo-area and Northern Ontario scout, but now has a chance to work in his hometown for the team he played on from 1983-88.
He joins the Soo at the time when the ‘Hounds are starting fresh with the hiring of Kyle Dubas as new general manager and Mike Stapleton as a new head coach. Oliverio joins holdover assistant coaches Seamus Kotyk and Nick Warriner on the coaching staff.
“I’m excited for the challenge,” Oliverio said in a team release. “I just want to thank Kyle Dubas, Mike Stapleton and the Soo Greyhounds organization for this opportunity. I am looking forward to the upcoming season and being part of ‘The Rising’.”
‘The Rising’ is a new marketing campaign started by the ‘Hounds.
“Mike did an excellent job for us,” said Plymouth assistant general manager Brian Sommariva. “He demonstrated a keen eye for talent and was an important part of our scouting staff. It’s great for Mike to be able to work for his hometown team.”
Although known as a scout in Plymouth, Oliverio was an excellent player in the OHL. He is the Soo’s franchise leader with 314 games played, is third on the ‘Hounds all-time list with 389 points, is second in career goals with 154 and third with 235 assists. After scoring 41 points in his rookie season with the Soo in 1983-84, Oliverio scored no lower than 82 points per season over his final four years with the Soo.
Sault Ste. Marie missed the playoffs last year, finishing last in the Western Conference with a record of 24-36-5-3. Head coach Denny Lambert was fired last Jan. 11 and replaced by general manager Dave Torrie. Torrie finished the season as head coach and was not retained.
The ‘Hounds hired Dubas as new general manager on April 15 and Dubas has moved quickly to put his own stamp on the team with the hiring of Stapleton and Oliverio, plus the formation of an entirely new scouting staff.
Trades were allowed within the OHL starting June 1 and Dubas was quick to go to work. He acquired RW Brandon Alderson from Sarnia along with three future draft choices in exchange for LW Justin Thomas and a draft choice. Dubas also picked up RW Cory Durocher for Kingston’s second round draft choice in 2014. Finally, the Soo sent Zachary Aston-Reese, to the Kitchener Rangers in for a couple of draft picks.
The Soo wasn’t the only team within the Western Conference to make changes.
The Sarnia Sting also missed the playoffs last season, finishing ninth in the Western Conference with a record of 25-36-5-2. And like the ‘Hounds, management made changes. Dave MacQueen began the 2010-11 season as general manager and head coach of the Sting, but was replaced by Trevor Letowski the mid-way through the year.
The Sting hired one-time London assistant coach Jacques Beaulieu as general manager and head coach on May 10. In contrast to Dubas, Beaulieu has worked in the Canadian Hockey League as a general manager and head coach before when he held both positions from 2006-09 with the Saint John Seadogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He was named the QMJHL’s GM of the Year in 2007-08.
Beaulieu has plenty of experience in the Western Conference as well, having worked twice in London as an assistant coach. Beaulieu also lives in Strathroy, ON, so like Oliverio, he is able to work for his hometown team.
Beaulieu is known as a defensive specialist who demands hard work from his players. The Sting gave up 321 goals last season, the most in the Western Conference and second only to Barrie’s 348.
As a result, Beaulieu’s first deal for his new club perhaps didn’t make a major splash, but may prove to be effective in the long run. The Sting acquired 18-year old forward Domenic Alberga from the Brampton Battalion for the future draft choice.
“Domenic is a gritty, hard working centre who competes hard,” Beaulieu said in a team release. “He is a difficult player to play against and I feel like he will be an excellent compliment to some of the top end forwards we have in our lineup. He is a blue collar player who exemplifies the type of player Sarnia fans love.”
In addition, the Sting acquired veteran goaltender Brandon Maxwell from Kitchener in exchanger for LW Brandon Francisco and picked up LW Justin Thomas from the Soo along with draft choice for RW Brandon Alderson and draft picks.
As Beaulieu said, there’s plenty of offense retuning to Sarnia with Rookie of Year Nail Yakupov (101 points) and Alex Galchenyuk (83 points) returning, among others.
The end result of new management in Sault Ste. Marie and Sarnia? They should make a very competitive division and conference even stronger.
OTHER DEALS: Kingston acquired G Igor Bobkov from London for two draft picks; Ottawa acquired D Michal Cajkovsky from Kingston for a draft choice; Belleville acquired D Simon Gronvaldt from the Niagara for a draft choice.