CALGARY, Alta. – The Canadian Junior Hockey League, in conjunction with the National Hockey League Coaches’ Association, announced Tuesday the names of the six finalists for the 2019-20 Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award, emblematic of CJHL Coach of the Year.
This honour, presented annually by the CJHL and NHLCA, is in memory of Humboldt Broncos (SJHL) head coach Darcy Haugan and assistant Mark Cross, who were among those who sadly lost their lives following the tragic events of April 6, 2018.
Each of the six nominees were determined, following a voting process completed by each of the CJHL’s 10-member leagues, for their respective efforts during the course of the regular season.
The following are the six finalists for the Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award, which are listed alphabetically, by league.
Tyler Deis, Okotoks Oilers (AJHL)
Deis, the 2019-20 AJHL Coach of the Year saw his side go 47-7-4 on the season, helping the Oilers clinch first place in the Viterra AJHL South Division for the fourth time in franchise history. … Deis concluded his seventh season with the Oilers organization, and his fourth season in the role of general manager & head coach. … In 2017-18 Tyler was awarded as both the AJHL and the CJHL Coach of the Year. … Under his leadership, the Oilers have finished first in the AJHL South Division twice (2017-18, 2019-20), advanced to the Division Final three times (2017, 2018, 2019) and the League Final in 2018. … “Tyler is totally dedicated to our players, staff and organization,” said Okotoks Oilers President Wayne Lauinger. “He has enhanced the Oilers program to create opportunity for prospective players and staff through his positive mentorship and development. Tyler gives unselfishly as a coach and a leader.” … Tyler is an experienced teacher and coach with a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Education from Minnesota State University.
With files from: Charla Flett, Vice-President, Communications (AJHL)
Jason Fortier, Coquitlam Express (BCHL)
Led the 17-team BCHL to a league-best record of 47-9-1-1 in 2019-20. … In just two seasons, Fortier has guided the Express to a 61-point swing between 2017 to 2020. … Not only did Fortier’s efforts lead to a BCHL regular season pennant and a divisional title, but saw Coquitlam produce an impressive 16 NCAA Division I commitments. … He was named BCHL Coach of the Year, while helping his club sport a BCHL-high .828 winning percentage.
With files from: Jesse Adamson, Coordinator, Content Services (BCHL)
Jason Clarke, Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL)
The 46-year-old Carleton Place, Ont., product led his hometown Canadians to their seventh straight CCHL regular season title with a record of 49-7-4-2 (.839 Win %), eclipsing the 100-point plateau for the fifth time in the past seven seasons. … The top scoring club in the CCHL with 263 goals for, as well as the top defensive team, allowing just 139 goals against for a goal differential of +124. … The Canadians were also strong in regards to special teams play as they finished the season with a league-leading 81 power play goals and top PP% at 26.4%. … “The big thing is how he’s evolved as a coach, said team ass’t coach Steve Maxwell. “He’s always on top of the latest trends in hockey and staying with how the game is changing. His use of video is an important teaching tool for him, but also a way for him to learn about the game. He finds clips from NHL games, studies them and tries to find ways to put them in our game.”
With files from: Sean Marcellus, Director of Hockey Operations (CCHL)
Billy McGuigan, Summerside Western Capitals (MHL)
The head coach from the MHL’s top team was named the league’s Coach of the Year for a second time. … McGuigan steered the Western Capitals to a 42-7-1-2 record and a five-point improvement over last year’s squad, which also finished atop the regular season standings. … Summerside was in the Top 10 of the CJHL’s Top 20 Weekly Rankings from December on and peaked at No. 2 to close out the season. … McGuigan previously won MHL top coach honours in 2012-13 as the Western Capitals captured the league title over Truro, finished second to the Bearcats in the Fred Page Cup, and hosted the Royal Bank Cup.
With files from James Faulkner, Director of Communications (MHL)
Kelvin Cech, Winkler Flyers (MJHL)
After spending three seasons as assistant coach with UBC (U SPORTS) Cech led a resurgence of the Winkler Flyers in his first season as a junior head coach. … Missing the playoffs last season, the Flyers clinched a spot in the 2020 playoffs under the leadership of Cech and his commitment to building a strong culture and development environment in Winkler. … His club finished with a record of 38-17-2-3 for 81 points. … In his first year at the helm behind the Winkler bench, Cech led his club to a 30-point improvement over the Flyers record last season.
With files from Kyle Prystupa, Manager, Media & Communications (MJHL)
Brayden Klimosko, Battlefords North Stars (SJHL)
Second-year bench boss of the North Stars, Klimosko was named a co-winner of the SJHL Coach of the Year. … Led the Stars to a 45-11-2 record in 2019-20 after posting a 35-13-5-5 mark last year before leading the North Stars to the SJHL title. … The 32-year-old native of Humboldt saw his side slotted 9th in the final CJHL Top 20 Rankings. Yorkton coach Mat Hehr says, “His teams are always very well prepared. He also does a great job at adjusting in-game to counteract what other teams do. They always are extremely hard working.” … Estevan’s Chris Lewgood said, “He’s honest with his players. Yet, seems to have a group that loves playing for him. His humility is evident and yet he approaches every aspect of the job with a great deal of earned confidence. He trusts his players and allows them to make mistakes while teaching the right way. This really helps his players meet their potential and grow.”
With files from: Mike Stackhouse, Communications (SJHL)
Earning honourable mention for the 2019-20 Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award as CJHL Coach of the Year, presented in conjunction with the NHL Coaches’ Association, for 2019-20 were: Éric Bouchard, Le Collège Français de Longueuil (LHJAAAQ); Dave Clancy, Espanola Express (NOJHL); Derek Smith, Wellington Dukes (OJHL) and Robert DeGagne, Thunder Bay North Stars (SIJHL).
DeGagne photo credit: Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com