Throughout a lifetime, people meet others who leave and impact that will last forever.
The Wyoming Area Hockey team - as well as the entire hockey community - lost one of those people this week in Warriors Head Coach Jamie Bowman. Bowman was found dead in his home Wednesday afternoon. He was 44.
Bowman was much more than a coach to his players and their families. He was a mentor and a friend. Many players said when they needed someone to talk to, Bowman was there.
“He (Bowman) was so much more than a coach to our boys,” said Cherish Francik, mother of WA player Dalton Francik. “He was their friend and they loved him.”
Emotions were high as the Warriors took the ice against the Crestwood Comets on Friday night. Both teams honored Bowman with a moment of silence prior to game time. The Warriors wore black bands on their sleeves with the letters “JB” and the Comets wore black ribbons. Many players said it was going to be tough to take the ice without their coach behind the bench.
“It’s definitely going to be tough to play tonight,” said a choked up Kody Nowicki prior to the game time. “He has been my coach for a long time and he was a great man. He always tried to get me hockey contacts and helped me with whatever I needed.”
Donny Flannelly has also played for Bowman for many years, both in travel hockey as well as Wyoming Area hockey. He also fought back tears when reminiscing about a memory of his coach.
“I remember two years ago when I played Pirates for him, our goalie was kicked out of the league and someone had to step up and be the goaltender,” said Flannelly. “I ended up being the goalie and he worked with me every single practice and helped me to be a better goalie.”
This comes as no surprise as Bowman’s specialty was the goaltending position. In addition to coaching the Warriors, the Canadian-born Bowman served as the goaltending coach for the Junior Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins team.
And it was not just Wyoming Area players who were affected by the tragic loss of their coach. Numerous players from the Pittston Area Ice Hockey team also spoke highly of Bowman.
Both Tyler Loftus and Anthony Passarella were deeply hurt by the loss of their former coach who coached them in youth hockey.
“He was an all-around great guy,” Loftus said. “He jokingly told me to watch my head next Friday night because they were coming for me and Anthony.”
Passarella credits Bowman for most of his knowledge of the game of hockey.
“Almost everything I know about hockey I have learned from him,” said an emotional Passarella. “He was a great friend and a great mentor and I have a ton of respect for him. I will definitely miss him.”
Mike Kopec has taken over the reigns as head coach of the Warriors program for the remainder of the season.
“I am not as knowledgeable as Jamie about hockey, but he taught me so much this year as well as last,” said Kopec. “It is such a tragedy to lose Jamie so soon. He was a great guy.”
There was no doubt about his love for the game of hockey and it is a tragic loss for the hockey community.
“What hockey really meant to him was hanging on his walls,” said Karen Nowicki, mother of Kody. “He coached these kids and they were his boys. He had so many pictures of teams he has coached.”
“I don’t think he realized the impact he had on these kids,” added Marcy Flannelly, mother of Donny.