Brave New Era: Sabers Name Spaargaren Head Coach, Restructure Hockey Operations

by San Diego Sabers

James Spaargaren, a proud local Escondido, Southern Californian hockey product has been named the new head coach of the USPHL’s San Diego Sabers. 

Spaargaren is the Lead Trainer at HDC San Diego, training 6 years old to the professional AHL, San Diego Gulls players that utilize the state of the art facility. Despite Spaargaren’s hockey journey not beginning until the age of 13, his relentless work ethic earned him Junior Hockey opportunities at the NA3HL, NCDC, and NAHL levels. These experiences earned him a commitment with Arcadia University, a NCAA D3 College. 

At the conclusion of Spaargaren’s junior career, with a number of offers, James selected Arcadia University as it was the team's inaugural season and his fearless nature directed him to blaze a new path with the opportunity to pioneer a culture of success with a first year program. Despite being a freshman Spaargaren was awarded as the team's MVP, which has subsequently been named after him.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as the Head Coach of the Sabers. I intend to make an immediate impact on these young men and build the most successful team possible. A team that people in San Diego will be proud to support. Coaching involves both teaching and  mentoring. My standard for team success is ensuring that each of my players is recruited to play college hockey. These individual goals can only be achieved through a culture that prioritizes a team-first mentality. Our playing style will be fast and relentless. The players will gain a new understanding of terms like forecheck, work ethic, and teamwork. In hockey, the MVP of a last-place team doesn't garner much attention. My aim is to develop our players and establish the Sabers as one of the top Junior Programs in the country. My hockey journey was challenging; I had to earn every opportunity, but it shaped me into the man I am today and the coaching style I possess. I eagerly anticipate the success that lies ahead.”

Joining Spaargaren on the Sabers staff is Tomas Kapusta as the Sabers Director of Player Development and Associate Coach.

Selected by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, Tomas participated in prestigious events such as the World Junior Championships and the Olympics. His professional career, spanning two decades, saw him represent the Czech Republic with distinction, including winning titles in the Czech Republic Extra League and clinching the Elite Finnish League scoring title in 1993.

Following an illustrious playing career, Tomas began his coaching tenure in Southern California spanning eleven years with the Jr Kings organization. Currently, serving as the Jr. Reign Hockey Director and Head Coach at St. John Bosco High School, Tomas brings a wealth of playing and coaching at the highest level of experience to his new role with the Sabers.

Tomas possesses a degree in social science from CSULA and teaching credential from CSULB. He currently serves as a Teacher of Record at Excel Charter School Academy. Working closely one on one with each and every Sabers player Tomas' dedication, experience and expertise will be a huge benefit to the Sabers players next season.

Rounding out the Sabers staff is Jeremy Blumes serving as the Executive Director. Blumes will continue in his role as the Ontario Jr Reign Head Coach and General Manager. Blumes has more than 20 seasons of hockey experience in a number of capacities and is no stranger to building programs from the ground up. Following a U18 Alberta provincial championship and Hockey Calgary coach of the year award in 2014, Blumes accepted the role of Head Coach of the Wheatland Kings and recruited an entire team as the program was not operational the previous season. The Kings went on a storybook playoff run falling in game 7 to the eventual league champion Coaldale Copperheads that swept their next two series. Prior to a season in the SJHL with the Nipawin Hawks, Blumes served as the HC and GM of the Golden Rockets. Engineering one of the greatest turnarounds in Junior Hockey history, the Rockets had only won 3 games and lost 43 the season prior. With a team of 20 first year rookie recruits the club won more games in a single season than the organization had won in the previous three years combined. The Rockets made the playoffs for the first time in four seasons and more importantly the following seasons a third of those rosters had advanced to Junior A and college levels. 

During Blumes three seasons in Southern California the OJR have rapidly evolved from a playoff-bound expansion team in their first season to the Pacific division champions. With a remarkable combined record of 71-19-1 over the past two seasons, and ranked among the top 5 teams in the USPHL, a league with over 61 teams nationwide. Most recently, in the Reign’s third season, the OJR swept their bitter rivals the Fresno Monsters on the road to earn a Pacific Division title and a National Championship berth in Utica, New York. 

Ben Frank, Team Owner, and President of the Jr Reign, Ontario Junior A Reign and San Diego Sabers commented “The San Diego Sabers represent a tremendous opportunity for our deep, local hockey player pool in the Southern Califonia area and we believe our new direction will help our program reach new heights never before discovered.”  Frank continued “As an executive we determined a “grinders” mindset was a critical piece in selecting our next head coach and James checks that box with flying colors. With an experienced support system in place, and applying the necessary elbow grease our Sabers program will flourish. The door is wide open for players to come in and earn significant roles on this hockey team entering next season!” 

Additional staff, developments and team announcements will be made over the course of the spring and summer. 

Become a Saber and Join the Hunt! Join James, Tomas, and Jeremy who will be scouting for new talent at these upcoming camps:

  • April 5-7, Combine Camp - The RINKS Anaheim ICE
  • May 3-5, NCDC Camp - Icetown Carlsbad 

Click here to register