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IceHogs turn to Memorial Cup champion

The Rockford IceHogs announced Friday that Bill Peters has been named the team’s new head coach.

Peters replaces Mike Haviland, who was named assistant coach of the parent Chicago Blackhawks last month.

The 43-year-old joins the IceHogs after serving the past three years as head coach of the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, where he led the Chiefs to the 2008 Memorial Cup championship.

“I think this is a good opportunity at this stage of my career and it wouldn’t have been possible without the experience and success we had in Spokane,” Peters said. “I’m excited about the opportunity with the Chicago Blackhawks organization. In meeting with them I felt good about the direction their team is going.  It is an organization in the upswing and I was impressed with the people, particularly Dale Tallon, Stan Bowman and John McDonough.”

Peters was also recently named head coach for Canada’s National Men’s World Junior Under-18 team, and is currently in the Calgary with the team preparing for the 2008 Ivan Hlinka Memorial on August 12-16 in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The Three Hills, Alta., native is third on the Chiefs franchise list with 115 wins and 217 games coached. Under Peters, the Chiefs improved in wins and points in each of the past three years, including a 14-win and 27-point improvement from 2006-07 to 2007-08. Also last season, Spokane tied a single-season franchise record with 50 wins and set franchise marks with 107 points and fewest goals allowed in a single season (160, 2.22 per game).

Peters originally joined the Chiefs organization as a scout. He temporarily moved into a coach role midseason in 1996-97, serving under 2008 Stanley Cup champion head coach Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings. In 1999, he accepted a full-time assistant position, serving in that role through 2002. In 2004, he accepted a head coaching position with the University of Lethbridge and then rejoined the Chiefs in 2005.