The search for the next head coach of the AAA Estevan Bears is over.

The hockey team announced Monday that they have hired Ryan Pilon to take over the head coaching duties. Former head coach Jeff Smith was let go midway through last season.

Pilon has extensive experience both as a player and a coach. He played three seasons in the Western Hockey League for Lethbridge and Brandon and was drafted by the NHL's New York Islanders in 2015.

Internationally, he won medals for Canada playing at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the U18 World Junior Championship. 

As a coach, he spent two seasons as an assistant at the U18 AAA level and three seasons in the PJHL, also as an assistant.

"We are excited to welcome Ryan to the community and to have him help shape the future of our program," said Bears governor Blake Jamieson in a release. "Ryan brings with him an impressive resumé, and we as a board are confident, he is the right person to lead our team to success, both on and off the ice."

Pilon added that he's excited to get started.

"I’m excited to move into this role and to begin working on building a strong team for our 2022-23 season," said Pilon in the release. "I’m looking forward to working with the board of directors to continue building this team and to develop our players on the ice, at school and in the community, so when they leave our program, they are better hockey players and better young men."

The Bears missed the playoffs in 2021-2022, finishing with a 14-23-0-7 record.