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Boys Prep Hockey: Brunswick’s Ron VanBelle steps down, assistant Kennedy moves to head coaching job

VanBelle Will Remain As An Assistant Coach With the Bruins

Ron VanBelle, who spent 13 years as head coach at Brunswick School, will be stepping down from his position at the start of this upcoming season, Brunswick School has announced.

VanBelle will stay on with the program as an assistant and with the School as athletic director, but he is handing over the head-coaching reins to longtime assistant Mike Kennedy, who also began his tenure with Brunswick in 2005–2006. The two were joined on the bench by assistant Steve Mandes in 2009.

“The timing just felt right,” VanBelle said. “Mike and I have been doing this together for 13 years with me as the head coach — and now it’s his turn. It’s not to say I’ve lost any passion for the game or for the players — I’m just ready to pass the torch. And Mike’s clearly ready for this challenge.”

Brunswick won the 2018 New England Large School championship, edging Thayer 4-3 in overtime.

Kennedy, 37, played collegiately at Middlebury College, winning a Division III National Championship during his senior year in 2004.

VanBelle certainly left his mark at Hartong Rink — as Brunswick transitioned from Division II to Division I under his watch and made a name for itself as a legitimate competitor in New England Prep School hockey. Under the Ontario native and Williams College graduate, the Bruins secured Large School Tournament berths in 2011, 2012, and 2015, when the team won a school-record 26 games.

In 2016, ’Wick earned its first-ever berth in the Elite 8 Tournament, featuring the top eight teams in New England. And in 2017, VanBelle’s squad won its first-ever playoff game at the Division I level and advanced to the semifinals of the Large School Tournament, setting the stage for the 2018 New England title

VanBelle finishes with a career record of 224-128-20.

“I’m proud of what we’ve done here — and of being part of what this program has accomplished,” VanBelle said. “But for me, it’s all about the players and the relationships I’ve built over the years. The wins and the championship season are an added bonus.

“The nice thing is I’m still going to be involved. I may just be able to breathe a little easier and enjoy the ride a bit more.”

Gary Demopoulos
Gary Demopoulos has been covering prep school hockey for the HNIB News for over 25 years, and has been the editor of the HNIB News since 2005. A former sportswriter and news editor at the Woburn (MA) Times Chronicle, he has been the HNIB News' key reporter for womens hockey, both at the prep school and high school levels. Gary also helps organize and oversee HNIB's many summer tournaments and festivals for scholastic players.
Gary Demopoulos
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