The Ottawa Senators have made another coaching change. With the third-worst goals against average in the NHL, they’ve re-assigned goalie coach Zac Bierk and given his role to 37-year-old Justin Peters.
Peters played 83 NHL games with Carolina, Washington, and Arizona and spent the last three-plus seasons as Belleville’s goaltending coach in the American Hockey League.
“Zac is exceptionally dedicated,” GM Steve Staios said in a club press release. “However, it is our belief that the time has come for a fresh perspective. Justin Peters is highly regarded and will bring strong leadership qualities to our group. He’s deserving of this opportunity. We’re excited to welcome him to Ottawa.”
Bierk’s removal from the staff comes on the heels of head coach D.J. Smith’s firing last month. Smith was dismissed in his fifth season with the club, along with assistant Davis Payne and replaced by Jacques Martin and Daniel Alfresson.
The 37-year-old Peters has had 14 stops in professional hockey with the Albany River Rats, Florida Everblades, Charlotte Checkers, Carolina Hurricanes, Hershey Bears, Washington Capitals, Tucson Roadrunners, Arizona Coyotes, Texas Stars, Riga Dynamo, Cologne Sharks, Chomutov Pirati, Liberec Bili Tygri HC, and Mlada Boleslav BK.
Bierk arrived in Ottawa in 2021, primarily to get goalie Matt Murray back on track. Murray never returned to form and none of the other ten Senator goalies since Murray has either. Certainly, Ottawa’s poor defensive play shares some of the blame for that. Bierk will now move into a scouting and development position with the club.
Arriving in Ottawa just before Peters got here is goalie Mads Sogaard. Under Peters watchful eye in Belleville, Sogaard was 8-5-2 this season with a .920 save percentage and a 2.48 goals against average. The 6-foot-7 Dane is the NHL’s tallest goalie and was called up after Anton Forsberg’s injury last week.
Sogaard was a backup on Saturday afternoon as the Senators beat San Jose, snapping their latest five-game losing slide. He’s expected to make his season debut on Tuesday night when the Colorado Avalanche visit the Canadian Tire Centre.