Youth hockey: Marquette Electricians searching for new head coach to replace Nebel

MARQUETTE – The committee that handles hiring for the Marquette Electricians junior hockey team won’t waste any time looking for a new head coach after the sudden resignation of Mark Nebel on Wednesday.

“We’ll be getting together (today) to decide how we’ll be handling this,” said Brad Sullivan, committee chairman of an 11-member group that helps runs the Electricians.

“We should have something in place after this meeting and we hope to have a list of candidates in a week or 10 days and a new coach within the next week or two.

“It could take longer, but that’s a timeline I think we’d like to take.”

The timing is difficult for the team, which is scheduled to hold its final evaluation camp for next season’s players from July 5-7 in the Berry Events Center at Northern Michigan University.

Nebel, 47, contacted Sullivan by email and phone about his resignation on Wednesday, informing Sullivan that he could no longer devote the time necessary to continue as head coach, since his regular job with WJMN-TV (Channel 3) now has increased responsibilities.

Nebel is general sales manager for the Escanaba CBS affiliate, the sister station to WFRV-TV (Channel 5) of Green Bay, Wis.

“This is not something that I want to do, but my job comes first,” Nebel said in a press release put out by the Marquette Junior Hockey Corporation on Wednesday. “I have enjoyed the past two years as coach and I have enjoyed watching the kids improve and move on to Juniors.”

Nebel said he has to do more traveling to corporate headquarters in Green Bay with his added duties.

“I mentioned to Brad that I’d be willing to help out as an assistant coach or part-time assistant,” Nebel said.

The team plays at the Midget AAA level, the highest level for Midgets, which are players who are no more than 18 years old. The Midget AAA level is generally a stepping stone to Junior A and college hockey.

Nebel took over in 2011 for Mike Dagenais, immediately turning around a struggling team by going 33-23-11 in the 2011-12 season and winning the Northern Lakes Hockey League regular-season title and qualifying for the Midget AAA state tournament.

After that success, nine Electricians players moved on to the Junior A ranks. The major loss of talent contributed to a subsequent rebuilding year for the team, which went just 9-32-10 this past winter.

“Out of 20 players, there are 14 or 15 who could come back,” Nebel said. “There’s a good core returning. I wish I was the one who could do it.”

Sullivan, who played for the Electricians from 1996-99, said it was too soon to say if the emphasis of the search would be internal within Marquette Junior Hockey or external.

Nebel, who grew up in Marquette and has lived here most of his life, coached with several travel teams in Marquette junior hockey.

In addition to off-ice commitments with the team, Nebel said he held practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings each week. The team played its games, more often than not on the road, nearly every weekend from September through March or early April.

The NLHL includes four teams, with the Madison, Wis., Capitols coming on board for next season to replace the Belle Tire Selects of the Detroit suburb of Taylor. Other members are the Thunder Bay Kings of Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Shattuck St. Mary’s of Faribault, Minn.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.