Being with family and the chance to work with the Okanagan Hockey Academy has brought Bruno Campese back to Penticton.
“I have known the program well. My son (Matthew) attended for two years. The quality of the people and staff is exceptional,” said Campese. “To be around those guys on a daily basis will be fun. Get back into coaching. Lots of factors pulled me back.”
After eight years with the Prince Albert Raiders in the Western Hockey League, which Campese said was a great experience, he chose not to return in mid-May. It was a difficult decision with the effort Campese put in with the Raiders.
“I had the chance to go back and chose not to for several reasons,” said Campese, who compiled a record of 107-67-6 in three seasons as director of hockey operations and coach of the Penticton Vees from 2004-07.
Okanagan Hockey Group vice president Dixon Ward made the announcement May 29 that the Nelson native was named the head coach of the OHA Bantam Prep team. While with the Raiders, Campese was their head coach from 2007-11 and was general manager from 2008-15.
“We are very excited to have Bruno Campese join our organization,” said Ward in a press release. “We have prided ourselves on the quality and expertise of our hockey staff and the addition of Bruno only increases that level. With his wealth of playing, coaching and management experience at the junior A and Major Junior level, Bruno will be able to provide our young athletes with the knowledge and experience that they will need to move to the next levels.”
Along with working with the Raiders and Vees, Campese was an assistant coach with the Calgary Hitmen after spending two seasons as the head coach with the Trail Smoke Eaters.
Campese said when he initially stopped coaching he missed it.
“It’s probably the next best thing to playing,” said Campese, who was a goalie for the Penticton Knights from 1979-81 “I’m really excited to get coaching and back on the bench. To coach that group, an elite group, is going to be fun.”
During his playing days, Campese was selected in the 12th round, 249th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1982 NHL Draft. He played one season with Northern Michigan University in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Campese also played two seasons in the Western Hockey League, ultimately winning the Memorial Cup in 1983 with the Portland Winterhawks. After his junior career, he spent 14 years playing professionally in Europe, including eight seasons with the Italian national team, where he represented his country on multiple occasions at the world championships and also at the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway.