THUNDER BAY – SPORTS – After helping Team Canada West mine gold at last year’s World Junior A Challenge in Nova Scotia, Derek Sweet-Coulter of the Superior International Junior Hockey League’s freshly-renamed Red Lake Miners has earned an opportunity to repeat.
Hockey Canada has announced that the Miners’ head coach and general manager has been once again named to the Canada West coaching staff for this year’s WJAC, which goes December 9-15 in Bonnyville, Alta.
Leading Canada West at the six-team event will be director of operations Kevin Saurette of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and head coach Rick Swan (Bonnyville Pontiacs, AJHL), who were both on the staff along with Sweet-Coulter that captured last year’s WJAC crown in Truro, N.S.
Joining Swan, who was an assistant coach in 2017, and Sweet-Coulter on the West staff will be assistants Joe Martin (Merritt Centennials, BCHL) and Brandon West (Surrey Eagles, BCHL) while Jamie McCaig (Spruce Grove Saints, AJHL) returns as Team Canada West’s goaltending coach.
“I’m completely humbled and honoured to be given this opportunity to help Team Canada West defend gold,” offered Sweet-Coulter in discussing his return to the squad in 2018.
“As a staff, we built so much chemistry together last year that the excitement and anticipation moving into this year’s event is tremendous,” added the Miners bench boss and GM. “I can’t wait to get started.”
In his time with the Miners, Sweet-Coulter has done a tremendous job for the organization both on and off the ice.
He led his club to their first-ever SIJHL Bill Salonen Cup finals appearance in 2017 while his team was the inaugural recipient of the league’s Team Community Service Award this past season in recognition of their involvement in terms of public service, non-profit events and overall involvement in various charitable events and functions in Red Lake.
Set to enter his fifth season in the SIJHL, Sweet-Coulter is grateful for his time in the league.
“I would like to thank the Miners and the SIJHL for giving me the opportunity to develop as a person and coach over the last four years. Without the Miners and the SIJHL, none of these opportunities would have been possible.”
“The entire SIJHL would like to congratulate Derek on his appointment to the Team Canada West coaching staff for a second consecutive year and represent the league and the Red Lake Miners at the World Jr. A Challenge,” stated SIJHL commissioner Bryan Graham.
“The on and off-ice contributions put forth by Derek and the entire Miners’ organizations bodes well for the franchise and the SIJHL as we gear up for the start of our 18th season,” added Graham.
A perennial power at the WJAC, Canada West has won gold five times at the tournament, including last year.
They also boast a trio of silver medals performances in the 12-year history of the WJAC and one third place finish.
The location for Team Canada West identification and selection camp will be announced in the fall.
The roster will be formulated from the five western-based leagues within the confines of the Canadian Junior Hockey League (SIJHL, MJHL, SJHL, AJHL & BCHL).
Once selected, the squad will compete against Team Canada East, made up of the five eastern leagues in the CJHL, and four international sides at the six-team event.
The SIJHL’s 18th regular season begins Sept. 20.