Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Coaching To Win

At the conclusion of the 2011-2012 season, Surrey Eagles Head Coach and General Manager Matt Erhart was named the Coastal Conference’s winner of the Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy as coach of the year in just his second season as the Eagles’ bench boss.

The coaches of the league vote on the award, and it’s handed out annually to the best coach in each of the BCHL’s two conferences. While it’s an honour that Erhart is proud of, he acknowledges that he didn’t do it alone.

“It’s not just one coach,” said Erhart. “It’s a collection of guys working together. And then it’s obviously having the right players that can buy into the system that you want to coach and guys that play hard.

“It’s really a team award.”

Nonetheless, the Eagles players appreciate having Erhart behind the bench, and as a former player himself, he understands what it takes to have success at the Junior A level. He was a defenseman on the Eagles team that won the Royal Bank Cup as Canada’s Junior A champions in 1998.

“He’s been there. He’s done it all,” said Surrey forward Brandon Morley. “He knows what it takes to get there, and he’s passing that on to us.

“He’s been a great coach these past two years. He’s taken on this franchise and done a very good job of it.”

For Erhart, his experience as a player in the BCHL pays off when it comes to deciding which players will help lead the current edition of the Eagles.

“I think you see what it takes to win,” said Erhart. “It’s about knowing what types of players it takes and what types of personalities it takes to mesh a junior hockey team together to be not just a talented group, but guys that can work together.”

While winning is important to Erhart, he also wants to help his players follow the same path that he did after junior hockey. Following his time with the Eagles, the Delta native attended Quinnipiac University in Connecticut and played four seasons for the Bobcats, tallying 104 points in 146 games on the blue line.

“We had 13 NCAA commitments last year which I think is the most ever in Surrey Eagles history, and it was second in the whole BCHL,” said Erhart. “I consider that a success too, tying the two together, having a pretty good on ice product as well as the off ice product and moving players on to the next level.”

As a result, Erhart’s players are confident with him behind the bench, knowing that they have a coach that is striving for team success while helping them achieve their personal goals in the game of hockey.

“Matt’s a great coach,” said Eagles forward Colton Mackie. “He’s very organized, very fair. He’s exactly the type of guy you need behind you when you’re trying to string together some wins and go for the title.

“I’m glad that I have the opportunity to play under him.”

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