Jamie King, back center, has been hired to replace Jamie Belleau, back left, as the new head coach of the Lewiston boys hockey program. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Lewiston Athletic Director Jason Fuller didn’t have to look far to find the school’s new boys hockey head coach — just down the bench.

But the decision to hire Jamie King, an assistant to former head coach Jamie Belleau, wasn’t as much about continuity in the program as it was understanding the program and all that goes into leading the 24-time state champions.

“I didn’t go in saying, ‘I had to get someone to continue what we’re doing.’ I wanted to get the best candidate, and when you sit down, you look on paper, go through the interview process, Jamie stood out. And he did a good job,” Fuller said. “Understanding what Lewiston hockey is all about, I think that’s important. I think, for me, that’s the biggest thing, is getting someone who understands the pressures that are associated with this job and the needs of the program, and Jamie just communicated that really well during the interview process.”

King is someone who bleeds Lewiston blue.

“I mean, I played there in ’92 and … being the assistant for the last six years it’s been, to become the head coach has been, you know, an honor,” King said.

After Belleau stepped down earlier this year, he encouraged King to put his name in for the open position. Fuller said Belleau stayed out of the hiring process — “He’s a professional, he didn’t want to have an influence on it,” Fuller added — but he will be a trusted voice for the program and for King.

“If I have any issues I can always reach out to him and he’ll help me out the best he can,” King said of Belleau, who recently was hired as an assistant coach at North Yarmouth Academy.

King is hoping to follow in Belleau’s footsteps and continue to stress three things he learned from Belleau: discipline, tradition and culture.

King said he thinks the continuity he brings as the new head coach will only help.

“I think it helps the kids a lot, knowing that having someone that’s been in the system, so there won’t be too many changes coming through,” King said. “You know, everything we ran systems-wise, we’re going to continue to do the same things, maybe tweak a couple things. But as far as having the same continuity of the program, I think the kids will hopefully be able to settle right back into it.”

Former Lewiston High School boys hockey coach Jamie Belleau, far left, watches practice with his assistants, including Jamie King, second from right, at The Colisee in Lewiston in Nov. 2019. King has been hired to replaced Belleau, who stepped down earlier this year. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal file photo

The Blue Devils coaching staff will continue to feature Belleau’s other assistants, Andy Guerin, Ray Teixeira and Pat Parent. King has also added former Lewiston and Liberty University player Colt Steele as an assistant.

King is excited to get back on the ice with the players after last season’s COVID-19 protocols put a damper on the usual team-bonding opportunities. He said in some games, Belleau was the only coach allowed at the rink, while other times it would be either himself or Guerin behind the bench as the lone assistant.

“We didn’t get that relationship. So these new kids that are there, that are sophomores, you know, last year was different because we weren’t at every game. We were only together at practices,” King said.

Fuller also is a Lewiston graduate and has a relationship with King that goes back a number of years — and that familiarity is part of the reason he knows he can trust King with the program.

“Jamie goes way back, he’s an alumni of the program, he graduated from Lewiston High School. I’ve known him for a long time, so I know how hard he works and how much it means to him. I know how dedicated he is going to be to the program,” Fuller said. “I think he has some neat ideas of what he wants to do, moving the program forward and taking the next step. And, you know, following Jamie Belleau is hard, but I think he understands it, and I think he’s going to be able to put his own imprint on the program and continue what we’ve been able to do over, you know, the last 18 years, 20 years, whatever it’s been. It’s been a long time.”

King’s not worried about any kind of pressure associated with leading the Blue Devils’ tradition-rich program or following in the footsteps of Belleau, who led Lewiston to four state titles in a five-year span from 2016-2020.

“Anytime you coach at any level there’s always going to be pressure. I think I just, throughout the years coaching, and I’ve been coaching over 20 years, pressure doesn’t really get to me much. So I think I’d be able to handle it pretty well,” King said. “Playing at Lewiston and coaching the last six years underneath Jamie, I think I’ll be able to handle the pressure of the program.”

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