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The Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Coach of the Year for the 2016-2017 season is Nipawin Hawks’ bench boss Doug Johnson. Johnson is a two time winner, having also captured the honour in 2011-2012.
The Hawks didn’t go into the season with the most experience from last year’s roster, but when the awards were announced, Johnson’s club was leading the hotly-contested Sherwood Division with three game to play.
This award is voted on by the SJHL’s Coaches themselves, so Johnson says it means a lot.
“It definitely is an honor to be recognized by your peers. I think there are a lot of coaches that deserve this award. This is a special group and they do make coming to the rink fun. However every year it’s fun to come to the rink and it has to be. We coach because we love it. We aren’t getting rich at this level and our job security is nil but for me there is no better feeling (other than family accomplishments) than watching your players work hard every day and improve their game day in and day out while respecting the jersey and being great ambassadors of the Hawks and the game of hockey.”
The Hawks started the season 0-2-2-0 and were having trouble scoring but Johnson says they quickly turned it around.
“Things started to come together at the December 1st deadline, getting Josh Bly who has been outstanding for us and Eric Bolden after Christmas it really helped our offense. Then on the January 10th deadline landing Keegan Milligan and getting Brandan Arnold back from Swift and landing Tanner Reynolds it gave us some great depth and shored up our areas of concern. This is an organizational award. Without the other staff members, the support of the board, our outstanding billets and volunteers and definitely without our outstanding players we would not be in this situation.”