Barrie Colts welcome back a familiar face as head coach

Marty Williamson is back as the head coach and general manager of the Barrie Colts, the organization announced Tuesday.

Williamson spent six years leading the Barrie team before heading to Niagara to head up the Ice Dogs.

"My family and I are extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity to be back in Barrie," Williamson said.

Colts President Howie Campbell said the move was bittersweet after the death of the league's longest-serving head coach Dale Hawerchuk.

"It's not easy to replace Dale Hawerchuk. Since his passing some 18 months ago, there is not a day that goes by that I don't think about him and his love for the game," Campbell said in a release.

Campbell noted Williamson's dedication to the Barrie team.

"When Dale fell ill, Marty stepped up in an advisory role and helped us make many trades that have benefitted the club now and in the future. We have more draft picks than we have had in years, and we have a great stable of both veteran and young players to build upon in the future," the organization's president added.

Throughout his 12 years coaching in the OHL, Williamson has never missed the playoffs. He led the Colts to six playoff appearances, two conference championship series appearances, taking home the 2009-2010 season conference championship title.

The team will also have a new assistant coach.

Chris Dennis will join Williamson behind the bench this season. Dennis spent three years with the Vegas Golden Knights organization and as an assistant coach with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.

He began his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005 as the video coach before being named assistant coach for the club from 2013 to 2015.

The Barrie Colts are scheduled to face off against the Niagara Ice Dogs on Oct. 7 in the home opener after a 19-month hiatus - if all goes according to plan.