Derek Sweet-Coulter (second from right) and the rest of the Canada West coaching staff following their bronze medal win at the World Jr. A Challenge in Bonnyville, Alta.
THUNDER BAY, Ont. – With a second consecutive medal won as part of the Team Canada West coaching staff at the recently completed World Junior A Challenge, Derek Sweet-Coulter will now have a few days off to relax and unwind during the holiday break before returning his focus to his SIJHL club in the New Year.
The head coach and general manager of the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s Red Lake Miners, served as an assistant coach on the Canada West staff where Sweet-Coulter’s efforts helped his side capture the bronze at the WJAC in Bonnyville, Alta., one year after winning a gold medal at the 2017 WJAC in Truro, N.S.
The Red Lake bench boss and GM took a few minutes out of his schedule to discuss his time, once again, representing the SIJHL, the Canadian Junior Hockey League and his country on the international stage.
SIJHL: How did the experience compare to last year’s WJAC in Truro while earning a medal once again?
DEREK SWEET-COULTER: This year’s experience was a lot like last year. The people of Bonnyville were great as were the people in Truro last year. To earn a medal this year was very special especially with the tournament being held in the west. We lost a heartbreaker to the Americans in OT in the semifinal and it was a short turn around as we played at noon the next day after playing the night before. I was incredibly proud of how our group pulled together for the Bronze Medal game. It wasn’t easy after the OT setback vs. the U.S. It was a very tough and emotional game the night before.
SIJHL: What were one or two things that impressed you about being involved in the event?
DSC: The volunteers in Bonnyville were incredible. The staff that I got to work with were professional and second to none. I learned so much from everyone.
SIJHL: What is something you’ve learned in Bonnyville that you will try and instill in the Miners?
DSC: I learned so many things from everyone on the Canada West staff, so it’s hard to single out just one thing, but one person that I learned an incredible amount from was Merritt Centennials (BCHL) head coach Joe Martin. Joe is a wizard when it comes to systems, structure and drills in practice. He taught me a lot.
SIJHL: How would you describe the skill level and competition at the WJAC?
DSC: It’s unbelievable. To be on the bench and witnessing the speed close up is really world class.
SIJHL: There’ a video of you on social media where you were pretty fired up, and did likewise for the team, in announcing the starting six in the dressing room just prior to your final game. Tell us how that came about.
— Rick Swan (@swan1585) December 17, 2018
DSC: Head coach Rick Swan wanted to provide energy for the bronze medal game and he asked me to do it, which I was happy to do. I believe positive energy can be a game changer as I have witnessed first hand with my own teams over the years the power of positivity works.
SIJHL: Would you like to return to another event such as the WJAC or CJHL Prospects Game, and if so, why?
DSC: I would love to be part of any CJHL or Hockey Canada event. The amount of development we receive as coaches through these events is tremendous.
SIJHL: Do you have any other closing comments to wrap things up?
DSC: Thank you to Jason Vinet (Miners’ Team President) and the Red Lake Miners who run a first-class organization and have let me be a part of the WJAC program over the past four years. It isn’t easy to let your head coach leave for two weeks during the season. It’s because of the Miners and the SIJHL that I have been given these opportunities to improve myself and I am in debt to my team and the SIJHL for these last four years. Thank you!
Sweet-Coulter and the Red Lake Miners return to SIHJL action Friday, January 4th as they host the league-leading Thunder Bay North Stars in a 7:30 p.m. start at Cochenour Arena.