By Dave Leaderhouse
Editor’s note: This is the 11th in a series of features on the 12 head coaches in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League that will run every Friday throughout the summer. The intent is to familiarize the fans with those who are in charge of the various clubs as there has been a significant turnover in the last couple of seasons. Often ready to take a backseat to the players, as those are the ones who deserve to be in the spotlight, the coaches and general managers shoulder the responsibility for putting the product on the ice and rightfully deserve credit for making the SJHL one of the premiere Junior “A” leagues in the country.
The Flin Flon Bombers have a rich and colorful history.
Names like Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach and Patty Ginnell checker the past, but their current coach and general manager, Mike Reagan, has carved a nice piece of folklore for himself.
About to begin his 13th season as the bench boss of the Bombers, Reagan has moved to the top of the list for coaching victories having won 374 games, having eclipsed the standard set by Ginnell in the late 1960’s and early ‘70s and distancing himself even further from the totals put up by Bobby Kirk in the late 1950’s and early ‘60s when the Bombers were a juggernaut.
Despite all of his success, which has included a playoff appearance in all 12 years at the helm, Reagan has yet to claim a championship although he did reach the league finals in back-to-back years in 2015-16 and 2016-17.
“In nine out of the 12 years we have lost to the eventual champions,” says Reagan, “we just have to find a way to get over that final hump.”
Although a championship trophy is missing from his mantel, Reagan has taken great pride in his success rate of getting players an opportunity to further their careers at the post-secondary level, something he benefitted from after four outstanding seasons as a player with the Bombers.
“We want to design a program where we make them good people and not just hockey players,” notes Reagan. “We don’t want them to be satisfied with just being a junior hockey player. We want them to be motivated to play at the next level.”
The 40-year-old Reagan played in more than 200 games with the Bombers before going to Sacred Heart University on a four-year scholarship. After a handful of years at the minor professional level, Reagan returned home to take over a Bomber team that had missed the playoffs five out of the six previous years.
His impact was immediate as the Bombers lost the divisional final in each of his first two seasons behind the bench. As his coaching career progressed his talents were also recognized by Hockey Canada as Reagan twice served as a coach of Team West at the annual World Junior “A” Challenge, winning the gold medal in 2017 when he was the head coach.
With almost half his life having been involved in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Reagan’s wisdom is looked upon by others in the league and he recognizes the fact that he and other veteran coaches help provide possible solutions to continuing the league’s growth.
“We care about the league,” says Reagan. “We will fight for the league to be better. We’re going to win some battles and we’re going to lose some battles. It’s a great league to be a part of.”
The Bombers were once again among the leaders in goals scored last year, but the season ended in a seven-game setback to the eventual Canalta Cup champion Battlefords North Stars in the quarter-finals.
With as many as 14 players eligible to return for the upcoming season, Reagan is poised to take another run at that elusive championship.
“Every year is a new opportunity for young players,” says Reagan. “We should be in pretty good shape.”
Each game puts Reagan higher in the Bomber record books, but bringing a championship to hockey-crazy Flin Flin would fulfill a lifelong goal. First and foremost, however, developing players into great people continues to be a priority and Reagan certainly has shown he is capable of doing that.