With some regular seasons over and others winding down, let’s backtrack our first Coaches of Interest installment from Oct. 1, 2017, and see how those men are doing.That first list featured some “who are turning around programs, one who took over from a legend and a long-time veteran who always gets the most from his players.”
Emanuel Viveiros, Swift Current Broncos, Western Hockey League: The Broncos finished last in the East Division last year, started out hot this season, and kept up the pace. They’re second in the East with 98 points, which is enough for them to be second, as well, in the entire WHL. The turnaround appears to be complete.
Joe Lovell, Northeast Generals, North American Hockey League: Lovell was another coach who had to sharply improve the product over the previous year, the Generals’ first at the Tier II level. When he and his brother Tim took over during the 2016-17 Christmas break, the Generals hadn’t won a game. Their first victory came on Jan. 6, 2017, but they had only three more all season. After a sizzling start to 2017-18, Northeast has leveled off and fallen to fourth place in the East Division. The turnaround is still a work in progress.
Gary Shuchuk, Janesville Jets, NAHL: This is Shuchuk’s first year after taking over for coaching legend Joe Dibble. Team President Bill McCoshen said Dibble, who went 181-91-28 in five seasons at Janesville, “left some very big shoes to fill.” It seems Shuchuk has filled them rather well. The Jets are in a solid second place in the Midwest Division, behind only the all-world Fairbanks Ice Dogs, and fourth in the league overall. As Heisler says, this is a Grade A squad.
Fred Harbinson, Penticton Vees, British Columbia Hockey League: This is Harbinson’s 11th season as the organization’s head coach and it has gone as expected. The Vees were the best team in the regular season and are 3-0 in the first round of the playoffs, scoring 18 goals and allowing only five.
Matt Keillor, Grand Prairie Storm, Alberta Junior Hockey League: Keillor took a team that went 15-38-7 to 28-29-3 and a playoff spot, including home ice in the first round. If the Storm makes it to the second round, then Keillor will have nearly completed the 180.