Blake Spiller admitted he’s not used to being idle this time of the hockey season. The last two seasons Spiller’s Terriers went the distance, eventually winning back to back championships. It was only a few years ago Terriers were the national champs, capturing the RBC Cup in front of friends, family and fans in Portage.
But as the GM/Head Coach of the Terriers knows, all good things must come to an end. That’s the world of sports. Every season presents new challenges.
“It was disappointing to lose,” Spiller said of the Terriers’ first-round loss to Winnipeg Blues. “We’re definitely not used to not playing hockey at this time of the year. But that’s how it goes. They (Blues) really got going over the last month or so. Credit to them. They really played well.”
Arguably, the most-successful coach in the MJHL (six MJHL championships, RBC Cup), Spiller might have put his coaching hat off to the side for the moment, but he’s now busy with general manager duties. There’s rinks to visit. Players and parents to speak with. Recruiting is the life blood of junior hockey teams. Replacing quality players with quality is key.
“There’s always lots to do from that end (general manager),” he said. “It’ll watch some (MJHL) games, some midget hockey, get on with the recruiting side of the business. I’d rather be coaching, but I’ll keep busy.”
Spiller has been head coach of the Terriers since 2006. Every year he’s faced with replacing players who either graduate, or move on to other levels. Terriers will lose seven players to graduation, while Chase Brakel will go on to play for NCAA Cornell.
“It’s part of the junior game,” Spiller said of player turnover. “Fortunately, we have a good scouting group in place. Every year we’re usually faced with placing up to 10 or 11 guys.”
A battle-tested veteran of junior hockey, Spiller won’t dwell on “what ifs” or “what could have been.” He’ll do what he does best: get down to work and focus on making the Terriers competitive for the 2018-19 season.