For Derek Sweet-Coulter, the opportunity to coach some of the top Jr. ‘A’ players in Western Canada, has been a tremendous experience.
As head coach and general manager of the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s English River Miners, Sweet-Coulter is currently away from his club while presently serving in his role as video coach/assistant coach for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge, which runs December 10th – 16th in Truro, Nova Scotia.
Having just wrapped up the Canada West Selection Camp in Calgary, Alta., where the coaching staff had the unenviable task of formulating the 22-man roster out of the 60 hopefuls from the five western-based leagues from the Canadian Junior Hockey League (SIJHL, MJHL, SJHL, AJHL, BCHL) the team is now in Nova Scotia gearing up to begin play against Canada East, Russia, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the defending champions from the U.S. at the seven-day event.
The English River bench boss and GM took a few minutes out of his hectic schedule to offer his view on a number of topics ranging from how things went in Calgary at the camp as well as heading into the WJAC.
SIJHL: How was the Canada West Selection Camp experience for you overall?
DEREK SWEET-COULTER: There was an unbelievable pace to the camp and I feel very fortunate to be involved with such great athletes and staff. It was an unforgettable experience.
SIJHL: What has been your role as a video coach/assistant coach of Canada West?
DSC: I’ve been helping head coach Mike Reagan (Flin Flon Bombers, SJHL) with anything he needs. I’ve also being assisting on the ice in practices, with evaluations, and making sure we have our video clips ready to go.
SIJHL: How do you think Canada West looks heading into the WJAC?
DSC: I believe we have a humble group of young men ready to put the team first at all costs. It will be exciting to see them get on the ice together in Nova Scotia.
SIJHL: In terms of scouting, how much attention did the players receive in Calgary?
DSC: The event in Calgary was very well attended by NHL scouts as well as NCAA, CIS and WHL coaches and scouts from all over North America.
SIJHL: What are a couple of things you’ve learned so far being part of Canada West and the coaching staff?
DSC: I have learned a new program for video editing and review that is in place. Being on the staff this year has allowed me to experience how Hockey Canada pieces a team together and the hours of hard work it takes to make sure the best decisions possible are made for the team.
SIJHL: What type of pre-scouting do you have on the other competing countries?
DSC: Pre-scouting is always a process and we as a staff have been paying attention to all the details. Part of my role as video coach will be attending the other games at the WJAC and scouting live.
SIJHL: By all accounts the SIJHL’s representative at the Canada West camp, in Keighan Gerrie of the Thunder Bay North Stars, acquitted himself quite nicely at the event. As the youngest player there, talk about how he preformed among the all-older group of 60 attendees from across the five Jr. ‘A’ western leagues in the CJHL.
DSC: Keighan had a great camp and did not look out of place in the least. He made the Top 40 Game and I was very pleased how he preformed and conducted himself on and off the ice. The entire SIJHL can be proud of what this young man accomplished at the camp. He really turned some heads with our staff and the scouts, especially for a 16-year-old, during the camp and I believe he has a very bright future.
Canada West has a pre-tournament game against Russia tonight at 6:30 p.m (EST) in Amherst, Nova Scotia, before opening the WJAC Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. (EST) vs. the Czech Republic.