While he’s a seasoned veteran at the Western Canada Cup, Blake Spiller admits there’s always something new to learn as a head coach.
“Guys (coaches) are always doing different things to help out their teams,” the Terriers’ GM/Head Coach said. “Whether it’s a different fore check, or face-off alignment, or penalty kill, there are always things you can learn as you go along.”
Considering Spiller has won six MJHL championships and an RBC Cup, there’s pretty much he hasn’t seen while standing on the bench. Yet, despite all the success he’s enjoyed, Spiller has a long, long memory.
“We lost a Game 7 ANAVET final against Humboldt one year,” he said. “That hurt. I suppose it was someone’s way of telling us we had to be patient and our time would eventually come. I remember those games, just as I remember the wins.”
“I wouldn’t say I get nervous during games. Maybe I feel a bit of jitters at certain points of a game. I enjoy coaching. Each year is always different. Different players. Different opponents. That’s what I enjoy about this. Competing.”
Spiller and his enthusiastic group of Terriers will be jumping on a plane Friday morning and heading to Penticton for the Western Canada Cup. In total, 23 roster players will be heading west, along with two affiliate players.
“It’s going to be a great experience for everyone,” said Spiller. “Looking at the teams involved this year, I believe this will be the strongest field of teams the WCC has iced in a number of years. There’s no doubt that these teams are built to win a championship.
“It’s a little different for us. We have a young club. We weren’t a favourite going into our playoffs. Our focus is on Game One. That’s a very important game for us. We play Battlefords, who will have played the night before. We want to get off to a good start and build momentum.”
For the record, the Terriers have only four, 20-year-old players, a handful of 19-year-olds and talented young guns rounding out the lineup.
Meanwhile, the Terrier players had an opportunity to meet their fans up close and personal with a pep rally held at Stride Place on Wednesday.
“Our players really enjoyed the rally,” said Spiller. “It’s a really good atmosphere. Living in a small community like Portage, our players see the fans on a daily basis. But, the pep rally gave the young fans in particular a chance to get up and close to their hockey heros. It was a great time.”
NOTE: all Terriers games will be broadcast on CFRY and Portage online.