CALGARY, Alberta – Six Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) coaches have been selected as finalists for the 2016 CJHL Coach of the Year Award. The award recognizes the most outstanding coach in the CJHL. The award criteria is based on the coach’s team and individual performance during the regular season.
Each of the 10 leagues in the CJHL submitted a candidate for the Top Coach Award. A representative from all 10 Junior A leagues then ranked their top five choices from among the 10 national nominees and the rankings were assigned a point value. The five coaches with the highest point total moved on as finalists to the final round of voting. The finalists for the 2016 Coach of the Year Award are outlined below.
Rick Swan, Bonnyville Pontiacs, AJHL – Rick Swan is the 2015-2016 AJHL Coach of the Year as voted by the Alberta Junior Hockey League General Managers and Coaches. Swan recently completed his third season as Head Coach of the Bonnyville Pontiacs and has guided the team to the playoffs in all three years. In 2015-16, the Pontiacs set new Franchise Records for Most Wins and for Most Points in a Single Season. The 2015-2016 Pontiacs captured three AJHL League Awards – League MVP, Outstanding Defenceman and Coach of the Year. Through Swan’s tenure, 17 Pontiacs players have committed College and Universities across North America. The Bonnyville Pontiacs promoted Rick Swan to Head Coach and General Manager in April 2013. Swan spent the 2012-2013 season as the Pontiacs Associate Coach and Assistant General Manager after joining the club from the Knights of Columbus Midget AAA club in Edmonton where he had been the Head Coach since 2008-2009. In 2009, Swan won the Glen Sather Trophy as the AMHL Coach of the Year.
Blake Spiller, Portage Terriers, MJHL – Blake is arguably, the best-ever coach in the MJHL. Over the last two seasons, his Portage Terriers have lost only nine games in regulation time. This season the Terriers posted a league-best 52-6-2 record. Blake was recently named the MJHL coach of the year: an award he also won last year. A former Terrier himself, Blake goes about his coaching in a quiet, methodical manner. But his results speak loudly. His Terriers won the RBC Cup last season at home, and are making loud noises they are not going to give up that crown without a battle. Blake took over as head coach in 2006 and has been re-writing the record books ever since. No Terrier coach has won as many regular season games, playoff games or championships as Spiller. In addition to the RBC Cup last season, the native of Portage led his team to MJHL championships in 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2015.
Fred Harbinson, Penticton Vees, BCHL – Harbinson guided the Vees to a 50-7-1 mark, just the fifth time in league history that a BCHL team has reached 50 wins. He was voted by his peers the recipient of the Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy as the league’s top coach for the third time in his career. Harbinson’s team led the BCHL in power-play success with a rate of 30.7 percent while the penalty kill was second best at 84.9 per cent. There were 15 players on the Vees roster this season committed to college hockey programs.
Dustin Treylen, Brockville Braves, CCHL – The rookie Head Coach led the Braves to the 4th best record in the CCHL at 40-19-1-2, just 6 points back of first place Carleton Place. The former Clarkson University goaltender and Concordia University Goalie Coach stressed team defense which resulted in Brockville finishing with the 2nd best GAA in the league. He ran a very disciplined team which also had the best road record in the league, losing only 8 times in regulation in 31 games.
Pierre Pétroni, Collège Français de Longueuil, QJHL – At his 27th season within the Quebec Junior Hockey League and Member of the QJHL Hall of Fame, Dean Head Coach Pierre Petroni was selected by his peers as Head Coach of the year for this 2015-2016 season. During the regular season, Petroni led his team to the Alexandre Burrows Division championship with a record of 44 wins, 11 losses in 55 games for 91 points, as well as finishing first in the league. In December, he had led, as Head Coach, the QHJL All-Star Team to the East Canada Cup Junior A Challenge championship. Last, but not least, Petroni had made the conquest of the 2015 NAPA Cup and participated in the Fred Page Cup Tournament both held last April.
Kevin Hasselberg, Battleford North Stars, SJHL – Kevin Hasselberg was hired by the North Stars prior to the 2011-12 season and has developed a reputation as a coach who always has his team's very well prepared and has shown an ability to adapt and develop game plans tailored around the strengths of his roster. Over the last two years, Hasselberg's teams evolved from a big, physical squad into one that utilizes speed and skill. This year it paid off as the Stars led the SJHL atop the standings with a 43-11-2-and-2 record. Hasselberg's teams have won forty games in two of his four years at the helm and his career mark is 146-64-and-16 (OTL/SOL).
Congratulations to all ten Coach of the Year Award nominees, which included the following CJHL coaches who are also winners of their respective league awards:
- Mark Jooris, Burlington Cougars – OJHL
- Ryan Leonard, Cochrane Crunch – NOJHL
- Troy Ryan, Campbellton Tigers – MHL
- Wayne Strachan, Fort Frances Lakers – SIJHL
The recipient of the 2016 CJHL Coach of the Year Award will be announced during the week of May 24th. All award recipients will receive a special ring designed by Jostens Canada the official award supplier to the CJHL