For the first time since Bob Beatty of Humboldt and Don Chesney of Yorkton split the award in 2003, we have a tie for the SJHL Coach Of The Year and, again, it involves Humboldt and Yorkton.
Trent Cassan, who doesn’t turn 30 until June, just completed his third full year as head coach of the Terriers and he’s had his team in contention each season. He took over with eight games remaining in the 2009-10 campaign and, promptly marched a club that barely made the playoffs all the way to the SJHL final. The Terriers returned to the league finals in 2010-11 and then went 33-20-2-and-3 in 2011-12, losing in the division semi-finals. This season, Cassan guided the Terriers to a first place finish of 36-14-1-and-3, the best record the club has had since Cassan has been at the helm. He accomplished this, despite having a team with two unproven Junior ‘A’ goaltenders at the beginning of the season. The Terriers are also void of a game breaking offensive player, but Cassan has molded the club into one that is incredibly deep and can get contribution from all four lines and all six defensemen.
Dean Brockman, a journeyman bench boss in the SJHL, has been the General Manager/Head Coach of the Humboldt Broncos since 2004-05 and has guided the club to an RBC championship (2007-08) in the midst of winning three SJHL titles in a row (2007, 2008, 2009). Brockman’s Broncos also won the Canalta Cup in 2012 and lost in the semi-finals of the RBC Cup in front of their home fans. It is, generally expected, a team that is built for a big year of success while hosting the national championship to experience a sharp decline the following season as a rebuild takes place. That wasn’t the case with Brockman and the Broncos in 2013 as they were every bit as good this year. Humboldt was hit with a number of key graduations and lost a couple of other players through future considerations trades that helped them in 2012, but they continued to steam roll the competition by being nearly unbeatable on home ice, playing a stifling defensive brand of hockey, while mixing in dangerous, timely offense from players who managed to jump up from playing depth roles last year to major ones this year.