ST. PAUL - With playoffs comes awards, and one coach who happens to be in his first year as head coach with the North Eastern Alberta Jr. B Hockey League’s St. Paul Canadiens, has been named Coach of the Year.
Just before the start of the first playoff game on Feb. 12 at the Clancy Richard Arena, Canadiens’ head coach Shawn Germain was awarded the Coach of the Year Award. Germain, who was previously an assistant coach with the team, took on the role of head coach in July of 2019. Germain said the award is a huge honour and feels there are many deserving coaches throughout the league.
“I'm humbled to be recognized that way, and I think more than anything, it's a testament to the kids that I get to coach every day,” Germain said. “Their effort level and commitment has been amazing all year. I also have an amazing staff around me that make my job easier and I appreciate them very much.”
Though the team bucked the season opener against the Vegreville Rangers in October, the Canadiens finished the regular season sitting in third place overall.
Germain thinks the biggest area the team bettered throughout the season is its defensive play, and acknowledged the efforts of the goalies Bradley Mistol and Hayden Lyons.
Every coach has their own style that they've developed over time, said Germain, when speaking of his coaching style.
“I've been very fortunate to play for some amazing coaches over the years. Many have gone on to coach in the National Hockey League,” explained Germain. “You try to take different things from each guy and make it your own.”
“Harvey Smyl taught me the importance of motivating each player as an individual and not broad brush your motivation strategy. Karl Taylor (Milwaukee Admirals coach, American Hockey League) mentored me for most of my pro-career and he has had the biggest influence on me as a coach.”
Germain obviously isn’t new to the sport. He has played for several teams in several leagues, winning championships and player awards.
St. Paul Canadiens President Rick Austin describes Germain as being very passionate about the sport. Austin is also in his first year as president of the St. Paul Jr. B club and said he’s proud of how the season has progressed. Austin said he's known Germain for many years, and even coached Germain as a kid.
“Coach of the Year is pretty prestigious,” Austin said. “He’s obviously got some respect in the league.”
The night also saw the Canadiens team captain, Brayden Goulet, and defensman Nathan Degraves, take home awards of their own. Degraves was awarded the All-stars 1st team defenseman and Goulet received All-stars 2nd team forward.
Speaking about Goulet and Degraves, Austin describes both players as “fine gentlemen and good hockey players.”
This is Goulet's third overall year with the team. Originally from Bonnyville, Goulet, 21, attends post-secondary education in Edmonton and has played for ‘AA’ and ‘AAA’ teams in Cold Lake and Lloydminster.
He said he is “mainly surprised” of his win, and added, “there are lots of good players not just in the league, but, on our team. There are some guys more deserving of the award.”
“And, I definitely couldn’t have won this award without my teammates,” Goulet said. “Coach Germain has been incredible and everyone understands there is life after hockey,” he said.