January 4, 2008 - United States Hockey League (USHL)
GRAND FORKS, N.D.: The United States Hockey League is pleased to announce that the guest coaches have been selected for the 2008 USHL Prospects/All-Star Game. Longtime NHL scouts Fred Bandel of the Florida Panthers and Pat Funk of the San Jose Sharks will guide two teams of the USHL\'s best on Tuesday, January 29 at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wis.
"For years, it was just the coaches of the teams that were leading their divisions that were coaching in the game. Later on, we decided that this would be a good opportunity to bring in some people from college and professional hockey and have them coach the teams," said USHL President Gino Gasparini. "It\'s a great chance for us to recognize some men that have given their lives to the game and these two certainly fit the bill."
Bandel and Funk will be assisted by the assistant coaches of the teams that are leading each division at the season\'s mid-point, which comes when each team has played 30 regular season games.
"This event is also a great time for us to recognize the assistant coaches in the league, who often times are overlooked in everything that they do to make our league what it is. Since we started having the assistants on the bench with the honored guests, it has been something that is very well received," Gasparini said.
Bandel will guide the West Division, while Funk will work with the players from the East Division.
Bandel is in his first season with the Panthers, after spending the previous three seasons on the staff of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Prior to that, he was a part-time scout with the Panthers for two seasons and also spent nine years with the Montreal Canadiens. A Montreal native, Bandel coached for more than 25 years at the elite and junior levels in his native Quebec, and later Minneapolis, Minn., where he has lived for the past 14 years.
Funk is currently in his 15th season as a full-time scout for the San Jose Sharks. Before joining the staff full-time, Funk was a part-time scout on the staff of the Sharks. He also has worked on the staffs of the New York Rangers and the Minnesota North Stars. Funk was a teacher in the St. Paul (Minn.) Public Schools for 21 years and has more than 20 years of coaching experience at the high school and college levels. Funk\'s son John played in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede during their first two seasons in the league.
The game will be preceded by the 2008 USHL Prospects/All-Star Game banquet, held Monday, January 28 at Shopko Hall, which is adjacent to the Resch Center. The keynote speaker for the banquet will be Mark Johnson, head women\'s hockey coach at the University of Wisconsin and a member of the gold medal winning 1980 United States Olympic team. The banquet will also feature an auction and the presentation of the 2008 USHL Distinguished Service Awards.
Tickets for both the banquet and the game are available. For more information on the event, including auction items that will be available as well as hotel and travel information, visit us online at www.gamblershockey.com, www.ushl.com or www.ushlallstargame.com. You may also contact the Gamblers by phone at (920) 405-1237.
The USHL is America's only Tier I league and the premier path for developing players in America. The league has over 125 current players committed to Division I colleges and 19 players that have been selected in the NHL Draft. For more information on the USHL and its member teams, visit us on the web at www.ushl.com.