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T-Birds name Kyle Hagel assistant coach

On Thursday, the Thunderbirds named Kyle Hagel an assistant coach on new head coach Matt O’Dette’s staff. The 32-year-old Hagel spent last season playing with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League.

“Kyle exemplifies the type of character we are looking for in the T-Birds organization,” said O’Dette through a press release sent by the team. “He’s intelligent, hardworking and will be a huge asset to our coaching staff. His work ethic and passion for the game will make for a smooth transition into the coaching ranks.”

Hagel began his professional career in 2008 with the ECHL’s Fresno Falcons. Last season with the Checkers, he scored four points in 24 games with 48 penalty minutes.

In total, Hagel played in 373 career AHL games with 43 points and 1001 penalty minutes. He spent time playing both forward and defense, most recently being listed as a left wing on the AHL website. The Hamilton, Ont. native played a hard-nosed style similar to what O’Dette was known for, giving indications that the team appears intent on continuing to cultivate the blue-collar, hard-working culture that Steve Konowalchuk instilled as head coach.

When Konowalchuk accepted an offer to join the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks as an assistant, O’Dette was promoted from his assistant coach position. The team’s other assistant, Tyler Alos, has chosen to pursue opportunities outside of hockey, which meant that both assistant positions had been left vacant. Hagel fills one of those spots but the team remains on the hunt for a second assistant to add to O’Dette’s staff.