Almost 30 wins, two playoff series sweeps, and a provincial banner to add to the Kin Centre rafters.
That’s the work of Cariboo Cougars Head coach Tyler Brough from this past season and has been rewarded as the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League’s (BCMML) Coach of the Year award.
While he’s humbled to receive the award in his second season behind the bench, Brough believes the award is based on the efforts of his entire coaching staff.
“We think we got a good thing going,” said the 40-year-old in an interview with PrinceGeorgeMatters. “We thought we worked pretty well this year. This was a team we put a lot of time and effort into with individual players and different things throughout the season. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re doing this for and to get recognized is special, but personally, I’d rather take a league championship over anything else.”
The Cariboo Cougars ended the regular season on a six-game winning streak that kept them from crumbling in the BCMML standings, ultimately finishing in second place with a record of 27-8-5.
If that wasn’t enough, the team ended 2018-19 with 12 wins in 15 games, which included a BCMML Finals series sweep to claim the major midget provincial title and a berth in the Pacific Regional Championship.
.@cariboocougars are provincial champions for a 2nd time in 3 years & in their 5th consecutive finals appearance 😺🏆 Two more wins & they'll punch their ticket to the 2019 @HC_TELUSCup | https://t.co/oSB95I6UKI #CityOfPG @BCHockey_MML @PGMatters pic.twitter.com/QSzoDkQA6e— Kyle Balzer (@KyleBalzer) April 1, 2019
One thing Brough attributes to his success in the four-year stint is having a great support staff along with players that are willing to become emersed into the Prince George community.
“They showed their true colours when we needed it,” he explained. “You try to get the most out of your players and we got that all through the playoffs leading to the championship. [Cariboo Cougars] have been a great program from the start and it’s something I’m very proud to be a part of. It’s important to help move these players on to the next level and into the next chapter of their lives whether that’s in hockey or not. They show who they truly are when they’re out in the community and interacting with people.”
Unfortunately, the long-term goal for the Grande Prairie product was brought to a halt in his home province.
The Cougars failed to get to punch a ticket to the 2019 Telus Cup in Thunder Bay after losing the best-of-three regional series 2-0 to the Calgary Buffaloes.
Brough does have his sights set on the 2019-20 stint already, but said it’s also important to keep the young men on his team in the right mindset off the ice.
“I said to the boys that it’s the worst speech you’ll ever hear from your coach,” he said in the locker-room after the season ended in Calgary. “You could see it in their faces. We thought we could’ve shown more, but at the end of the day, we had a lot to be proud of this season. We earned our way all the way through because not a lot of teams had picked us to win or that we were going to be that good this year. But the boys competed as hard as they and it was a great season and a lot of gritty team play by us.”
“We try to implement the right things, and we don’t just want to be hockey coaches, we also want to be life coaches for these young men," added Brough. "We want to bring in good people and we want them to get better in this program so that they can move on. As a staff, if we can pass that along to our players, then we know that we’ve done a good job.”
He currently has 57 wins in the BCMML on his head coaching resume and consecutive Finals’ appearances as head coach.
Brough adds Coach of the Year to his extensive hockey resume, which includes 178 games with the Prince George Cougars, a National Junior ‘A’ Championship title with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in 2000, and the 2009 Allan Cup with the Fort St. John Flyers as National Seniors Men’s Amateur hockey champions.