Over the next 12 weeks we’ll get to know the coaches from across the MJHL.
Dave Anthony asked all the coaches 12 questions and they shared their hockey history, how they got into coaching and a whole lot more.
We always get to hear their names, now let’s get to know the men behind the bench.
Blake Spiller – Head Coach Portage Terriers
DA: What’s your hockey background? Did you play?
BS: Played Minor Hockey in Poplar Point and Portage and then Junior A with Terriers.
DA: How did you get into coaching?
Started coaching my son in hockey and baseball from 6 & under right up to Bantam. Took over AAA Midget Capitals in midseason 1999 . Moved up to Assistant Coach with Terriers in 2001 and then to Head Coach and GM in ’06.
DA: What do you remember feeling standing on the bench as a head coach for the first time?
BS: Seems like a long time ago but remember first year as head coach was also the first year of the obstruction rules and our team took over 40 minor penalties in opening home and home with Neepawa. Wasn’t a great start.
DA: What is your favorite or least favorite practice drill to run?
BS: Actually, enjoy practice and along with assistant coach Paul Harland try and come up with new game like drills for practice.
DA: Is there a trade you’ve made or player recruitment/signing that stands out to you as being one of the best moves you’ve ever made?
BS: Likely trade in which we acquired Bowles twins and Brett Orr in a deal with Dauphin.
DA: Who from your past (either playing with or being coached by) would you say had a great influence or impact on you as a coach today?
BS: That’s a tough one as I think every coach I played for or coached with has had an impact. My Dad coached me in minor ball and hockey. Ken Jarvis was my assistant coach in AAA Midget. He was a big reason I was given the opportunity to coach AAA Midget. Was fortunate Don MacGillivray gave me opportunity as assistant coach with Terriers.
DA: Which former player stands out as one of your favorites to coach or to have around the rink every day?
BS: Well, I coached my son AJ for a lot of years in ball and hockey as well as with the Terriers. I know it wasn’t always easy for him but I really enjoyed coaching him … honestly there have been so many great kids I have coached over the years there is no way I could pick a favorite. I was asked a while ago who would be on my all-time team since I began coaching the Terriers and couldn’t narrow that down.
DA: If you could coach an NHL team, which team would it be and why?
BS: Nashville. Started cheering for them when Barry Trotz was named Head Coach of the expansion team. And I like country music.
DA: In a post-game interview, which question do you like answering the least?
BS: Any type of question focused on an individual player.
DA: Why do you like coaching for the organization you do?
BS: Our family moved to the Portage area the year the Terriers won the Centennial Cup (1972-73) so instantly became a Terrier Fan.
It’s nice to coach in hometown and our executive has always been very supportive.
DA: What do you like about the town/city you coach for?
BS: See above.
DA: Who’s a current player on your team you feel deserves more attention from fans around the league? (This will be used for a future 12 Takes story).
BS: Jacob Piller