The West Kelowna Warriors have added two new faces to its locker room staff.
Ayrton Nikkel is coming in as an assistant coach and Paige Shannon will be the team’s newest athletic therapist.
It’s a homecoming for Kelowna-native Nikkel, who spent four seasons in the Western Hockey League (WHL) while finishing his junior career with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL) in 2015. He played a year of university-level hockey with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns in 2016-2017 before returning to the Okanagan transferring to UBC Okanagan.
“I returned home because the Okanagan Valley will always have my heart and the UBC Okanagan campus and their professors, are the highest quality” said Nikkel, “I have been teaching on-ice skills to players of all ages for the better part of a decade now and the opportunity to teach the game to experienced players was an opportunity I could not pass up.”
Nikkel has had a previous relationship with Warriors head coach and general manager Brandon West dating back to their time with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
“I have the utmost respect for him as a coach and a person,” stated Nikkel. “I was honored he considered me for the position and has confidence in me to develop the defensive core of the team.”
West shared the same sentiment and added, “[Nikkel] gave everything he had as a player and I look forward to seeing him develop as a coach now. He’s done a tremendous job as a player development coach in his time away from playing the game. It’s a great fit for our defencemen and our team will benefit greatly from him.”
Shannon, on the other hand, is being welcomed to the Central Okanagan for the first time.
Shannon brings a wealth of experience in athletic therapy after graduating from the University of Winnipeg in 2016. Shannon would then move on to Olds, Alberta where she spent time with the Olds Grizzlys Midget club, Olds Mavericks Lacrosse, Olds College Broncos Women’s Hockey(ACAC), and was part of the medical staff at the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer this past February.
“Paige has an incredible passion for the game and separated herself in the interview process because of it. She really cares for her players’ health and wellness and that’s what the position is all about,” said West.
“Our players are fortunate to have someone with the qualifications she has. Paige came highly recommended by a lot of people in the hockey world.”