St. Stephen Aces Jr. A Hockey Club

Aces add Eric Neilson as Assistant Coach

The St. Stephen Aces have added character, toughness, experience and a powerfully positive attitude to their coaching staff with the signing of Fredericton’s Eric Neilson as an Assistant Coach.

From the QMJHL through the ECHL and the AHL, Neilson built a nearly 20-year career of high-level hockey – four years of major junior and 12 years pro – and became the heart and soul of every team he played for. He was with the Oceanic in Rimouski when a kid named Sid Crosby was winding up for a Hall of Fame career. Neilson was Crosby’s roommate in major junior and the two have remained close friends. Neilson recently joined the superstar in Nova Scotia for his day with the Stanley Cup.

“Eric understands the game and he’s a great motivator,” said Aces VP Hockey Operations Chris Horne. “We’re very pleased to add Eric with his tremendous background and character.”

Neilson may not have made the big show but his drive and work ethic allowed him to enjoy a solid pro career and made him a dressing room favourite in places like Bakersfield and Anchorage and Syracuse and St. John’s.

“You can’t talk to Eric and not feel better about yourself, life, the world, you name it,” said Aces President John Hyslop. “He’s the kind of positive person you want around your team and our players are going to benefit tremendously.”

Neilson’s last stop as a player/coach was in the Elite Ice Hockey League in the UK where he played with the Manchester Storm. In 2004, the Los Angeles Kings selected him in the 5th Round of the NHL Entry Draft. He was nominated by all of his AHL teams for the Man of the Year award and took the league-wide title in 2013-2014.

“I’ve always tried to get the most out of myself each and every day,” Neilson said. “As a player or a coach, my philosophy is simple. Work hard and bring a positive attitude to the rink and to everything you do in life. I am incredibly excited to join the Aces organization where I believe great things are happening.”

The Jr. A Aces are entering their fourth year in the Maritime Hockey League and got a brief taste of the playoffs last season under Head Coach Josh Hepditch. Hepditch has left the team to join the Moncton Wildcats but the Aces have worked hard to build their bench. Head Coach and General Manager Phil Richer has Justin Bowers and now Neilson as assistants.

Neilson is based in Fredericton but will live in St. Stephen during the hockey season.