Not everyone would wake up to brave frigid conditions on an early Saturday morning, but hockey coaches in British Columbia are a special breed. On Saturday, February 26th, over 300 coaches attended Coaching Day in BC at Rogers Arena, presented by Tim Horton’s, the Canucks Centre for BC Hockey, BC Hockey and Hockey Canada. Coaching Day in BC is a free event held annually to recognize the dedication of minor hockey coaches – a trait shown in spades as registrants arrived before 8:00am to meet fellow coaches and improve their skills.
The early risers were welcomed at Rogers Arena with coffee, muffins, and donuts courtesy of Tim Hortons. As the final coaches took their seats in the lower bowl Sportsnet broadcaster and host for the event, Craig MacEwan, got the day rolling.
The first speaker of the morning was the Director of Sport Science for the Vancouver Canucks, Dr. Len Zaichkowsky. With over 35 years as a professor at Boston University under his belt, Dr. Zaichkowsky was in his element speaking to the attentive audience. He shared his experience as a seasoned sport psychologist and former minor hockey coach, including the importance of quality practice and having a positive growth mindset.
The day continued with an on-ice session led by BC Hockey Course Conductor, Craig Sherbaty. On hand to demonstrate drills and games were the New Westminster Bantam A and Atom A Royals. The teams were divided into small groups, each demonstrating a different activity while Sherbaty explained the key teaching points.
The next on-ice session focused on an area that is often most challenging for minor hockey coaches – goaltending. Expert goaltending coach, Pasco Valana, worked one-on-one with a goalie to demonstrate skating techniques, inside and outside saves, glove and blocker drills, and rebound control.
The instructional portion of Coaching Day was rounded out with guest speaker Jeff Oldenborger on behalf of BC Hockey. Oldenborger is the assistant coach of the UBC Thunderbirds Women’s Hockey team. He spoke to coaches about networking and making the most of the resources available to them.
The remainder of the morning provided coaches the opportunity to see what they had just learned applied at the NHL level. The Vancouver Canucks took to this ice for their game-day skate, followed by the Boston Bruins. Before the skate got underway, Head Coach Alain Vigneault spoke to the crowd. He talked about the path he took to become an NHL coach and the importance of developing athletes’ character as well as hockey skills. Associate Coach Rick Bowness also addressed those in attendance, describing the purpose of the optional game-day skate. As he explained, “The skate is optional, but what we do on the ice isn’t.” He emphasized the high expectations coaching staff have of Canucks players and the effort that goes into every practice.
Throughout the entire morning, host Craig MacEwan facilitated question-and-answer interaction between attending coaches, guest speakers and on-ice instructors. Coaches asked Sherbaty and Valana about drills as they happened on the ice and gained further insight into the expertise of Dr. Zaichkowsky, Jeff Oldenborger, and Alain Vigneault.
The ninth annual Coaching Day in BC, presented by Tim Hortons, was a huge success thanks to the enthusiasm and effort of all involved. The event provided coaches with new ideas and tools to take back to their own hockey teams, with the full support of the Vancouver Canucks behind them. The Canucks Centre for BC Hockey, BC Hockey, and Hockey Canada would like to thank all coaches for attending and for their continued commitment to hockey in British Columbia.