Coaches

The WBS Junior Knights have some of the top coaches in the country with college, junior or professional playing and coaching experience. In addition, the Knights offer seasonal guest instructors, as well as former Knights players returning from professional or college hockey to mentor a new generation of Knights. The Knights coaches are committed to providing each and every Knights player an opportunity to excel at the highest level of hockey, AND OUR TRACK RECORD IS UNMATCHED!

Coach Alex Vasko - WBS Junior Knights Head Coach and Hockey Director

Coach Alex Vasko is the WBS Junior Knights head coach as well as the hockey director for the organization.  Vasko is a native to Kiev, Ukraine and represents the former Soviet Union Hockey Training School.  Coach Vasko started his professional playing career in Eastern Europe Hockey League in 1995. In 1999 Alex moved to the United States to continue his playing career in Gold Rush AWHL, Sioux City Musketeers USHL and Mohawk Valley UHL. Alex also participated in NHL Rookie Camps of Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning and in ECHL, UHL Training Camps.

In 2007, he moved to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area to begin his coaching career as a Head Coach with WBS Jr. Knights Youth Hockey Club. For five years in a row, Coach Vasko has been selected as AYHL All Star Game Coach. From the 2012 through 2014 hockey seasons, he led his team to a National Championship and in 2012 won National Championship with his Bantam Major AAA Team.

Coach Vasko has coached and trained NHL player Ivan Provorov – Philadelphia Flyers (NHL Draft 2015, 1st Round, 7th Overall), Denis Smirnov – Colorado Avalanche (NHL Draft 2017, 6th Round, 156th Overall), CJ Yakimowicz – St. Louis Blues (NHL Draft 2014, 6th Round, 172nd Overall), Nikita Pavlychev – Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL Draft 2015, 7th Round, 197th Overall) and Dmitri Zaitsev – Washington Capitals (NHL Draft 2016, 7th Round, 207th Overall).  In addition to the six NHL draft picks, Coach Vasko has developed players currently committed by the Big 10 and other Division 1 Colleges: Denis Smirnov, Nikita Pavlychev, Paul DeNaples and Jacob Goldowski – Penn State, NCAA Div. I – Big Ten; Eugene Fadyeyev – Ohio State, NCAA Div. I – Big Ten.

 

Coach Ray Giroux - WBS Junior Knights Coach and Operations Manager

Coach Ray Giroux is the operations manager of the WBS Junior Knights program as well as the 2009 AYHL head coach.   Giroux is a Canadian ice hockey defenceman that played in the National Hockey Laegue (NHL) as well as with Metallurg Novokuznetsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

Giroux, who shoots left, played collegiately at Yale University. During the 1997–98 season, he captained the best team in school history as Yale won their first ECAC regular season title (Yale has since won another regular season title in the 2008-09 season) and advanced to the NCAA tournament after only having been picked to finish in 10th place at the beginning of the season. In addition to being a 1st-team All American, Giroux was named ECAC Player of the Year as well as the league's best offensive defenceman and was one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given annually to the nation's top collegiate player.

Coach Giroux spent time in many NHL organizations before leaving the US to play overseas. He has played in the AHL for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and in the NHL for both the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils. Playing for AK Bars, Coach Giroux became Russian champion (2005/06) and IIHF European Champions Cup winner (2007). Giroux made his Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) debut playing with SKA Saint Petersburg during the inaugural 2008–09 KHL season and played for five seasons. He participated in 2009 Kontinental Hockey League All-Star Game.

 

Coach Richard Laganiere - WBS Junior Knights Strength & Conditioning Coach and 2008 AYHL Coach

Coach Rich Laganier is the strength and conditioning coach for the WBS Junior Knights AYHL teams.  Laganiere played in the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) for the Pembroke Lumber Kings where he had 43 points in his final season.

The Canadian Junior Hockey League is a national organization comprised of 10 Junior A hockey leagues in Canada.  The CJHL represents 131 teams and more than 2,900 players. The CJHL is the only sanctioned Junior A Hockey League in Canada.  Each year players compete for the Royal Bank Cup National Junior A Championship and CJHL players are also selected to represent Canada at the World Junior A Challenge as well as compete at the annual CJHL Prospects Game.

As the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Knights, Laganiere facilitates the off-ice and dryland training of the WBS Junior Knights athletes. Assisting with the development of exercise routines, exercise supervision, skating treamill and tracking athlete progress and adjusting exercise plans accordingly, Laganiere designs and implements ice skating fitness programs for the AYHL teams.  In addition, Laganiere also coaches the 2008 AYHL team.  

 

Coach Justin Lyle - WBS Junior Knights Mite Director

Coach Justin Lyle is the Mites Director for the WBS Junior Knights.  As an Anchorage Alaska native, Lyle enjoyed a prominent playing career where he earned his DI scholarship at the University of Alaska Anchorage, while playing two years for the Omaha Lancers in the United States Hockey League (USHL).  Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the USHL celebrates its 17th season as the nation's only Tier I junior hockey league in 2018-19. Lyle came to Pennsylvania in 2010 to lead the WBS Knights NAHL team in their inaugural season. Justin is a USA Hockey Tier 4 coach.

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