Ryan Papaioannou, Brooks (AJHL); Joe Martin, Merritt (BCHL); Jesse Winchester, Brockville (CCHL); Blake Spiller, Portage (MJHL); Mike Tarantino, Oakville (OJHL) named finalists for honour, as presented by the NHL Coaches Association
CALGARY, Alta. – The Canadian Junior Hockey League, in conjunction with the National Hockey League Coaches Association, announced Tuesday the names of the five finalists for the Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award, emblematic of CJHL Coach of the Year.
This honour, which will be 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 five nominees were determined, following a voting process completed by the CJHL’s 10-member leagues, for their respective efforts during the course of the 2018-19 regular season.
This year’s award will be formally presented to the recipient during the NHLCA’s Global Coaches’ Clinic, June 20, in Vancouver, B.C.
The following are the five nominees for the Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award for CJHL Coach of the Year, which are listed alphabetically, by league.
Ryan Papaioannou, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
Brooks Bandits head coach and general manager Ryan Papaioannou was named the 2018-19 AJHL Coach of the Year. … Papaioannou led the Bandits to the most successful regular season in AJHL history, by becoming the first team to ever record 114 points in the standings. … Papaioannou, 35, previously won the AJHL Coach of the Year award in 2012-13, which led to his being named CJHL Coach of the Year. … Since taking over the coaching reigns in 2009-10, Papaioannou has recorded more than 400 regular season wins and more than 500 overall wins, leading the team to four AJHL championships.
With files from: Charla Flett, Vice-President, Communications (AJHL)
Joe Martin, Merritt Centennials (BCHL)
Wrapping up his fourth year as head coach in Merritt, Martin led the team to a 24-point improvement from the 2017-18 season, including 12 more wins, to finish in a tie for first place in the Interior Division. … The offence flourished under Martin’s leadership, finishing second in the league with 220 goals for and a plus-38 goal differential. … Merritt also scored the second-most power-play goals in 2018-19 with 63. … The Centennials were among the league leaders in players committed to NCAA Division I programs, currently at 11, including seven that announced their commitments during the 2018-19 season. … He also served an assistant coach for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge the last two years, winning gold in 2017 and bronze in 2018. … Martin has since joined the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs in a similar coaching capacity.
With files from: Jesse Adamson, Communications Coordinator (BCHL)
Jesse Winchester, Brockville Braves (CCHL)
The second-year head coach earned CCHL Coach of the Year honours for a second consecutive year. ... Winchester led Brockville to an impressive 41-16-3-2 record, putting them in third place overall in the 12-team CCHL. ... An alumnus of the CCHL as a player, Winchester also played collegiate hockey at the NCAA Division I level at Colgate and skated in 285 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers. ... Winchester has proven to be a great leader and coach that his players highly respect and appreciate. … In two years at the helm behind the Brockville bench, Winchester has seen his squad produce a regular season record of 79-36-5-6.
With files from: Sean Marcellus, Director of Hockey Operations (CCHL)
Blake Spiller, Portage Terriers (MJHL)
Arguably, Blake Spiller is the most successful coach in the history of the MJHL. … This year, he once again guided his Terriers to first place in the 11-team MJHL with a 46-win season. … A firm believer in strong defensive play, Spiller’s Terriers gave up just 150 goals ─ second best in the MJHL. … Spiller is a skilled tactician and extremely savvy bench boss, evidenced once again this season as he pushed the young Terriers to a .792 winning percentage. … Spiller’s coaching resume is truly remarkable, considering the ever-changing rosters of junior hockey teams: Twice named the CJHL Coach of the Year; Four-time winner of the MJHL’s coach of the Year award; Winningest coach in the Portage Terriers’ history; 13 years as Terriers’ head coach; Nearly 900 regular season games coached; More than 500 regular season wins; 7 MJHL championships; 2015 RBC Cup; Dozens of his former players successfully moving onto high levels of hockey. … A former player with the Terriers, Spiller is one of most humble people you’ll come across. He does his talking behind the bench. … Highly respected, yet one of the fiercest competitors when the puck drops, Spiller goes about his business in a professional manner. … His teams are also regularly ranked in the Top 10.
With files from: Brian Smiley, Media Relations Officer (MJHL)
Mike Tarantino, Oakville Blades (OJHL)
The Oakville native was voted 2018-19 OJHL Coach of the Year after leading the Blades to a 44-5-1-2 record and the Brant Snow Memorial Trophy as regular season champions of the 22-team OJHL. … The Blades were ranked third in the nation in the end-of-season poll conducted by the Canadian Junior Hockey League. … Eleven players on this year’s Oakville roster have NCAA Division I commitments. … Tarantino, who starred for the Blades on the ice, was named their head coach in 2014. … The Oakville native had just led the Toronto Patriots to the OJHL championship that spring as the club’s general manager. … He was named the league's executive of the year that season — after serving as the Patriots’ coach and GM the previous three years. … Tarantino took over a Blades team that missed the post-season for the first time in 13 years. … Since then, they’ve gone 31-19-2-2, 34-17-2-1, 40-14-0-0, 38-13-2-1 and, this year, 44-5-1-2.
With files from: Jim Mason, Director of Communications (OJHL)
Earning honourable mention for the CJHL’s Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award in 2018-19, which is presented by the NHL Coaches Association, were the following: