The Canadian Junior Hockey League announced Thursday that Pier-Alexandre Poulin of the Condors du Cégep Beauce-Appalaches of the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League has been named the recipient of the 2020-21 CJHL Coach of the Year award, presented by the National Hockey League Coaches’ Association (NHLCA). This prestigious honour is bestowed annually by the CJHL and NHLCA, in memory of Humboldt Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan and assistant Mark Cross, who were among those who sadly lost their lives following the tragic events of April 6, 2018. Due to the circumstances of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in various levels of play across the CJHL this season, the format for the 2020-21 award was altered to reflect that. “Supporting the development and growth of the next generation of NHL coaches is one of the main objectives of our Association,” said Michael Hirshfeld, Executive Director of the NHLCA. “With the support of our members, we are committed to coaches at all levels of the game in their roles of guiding, motivating, and inspiring their players both on and off the ice.”
Poulin earned the accolades over fellow finalists Corey Beer, Timmins Rock (NOJHL); Peter Goulet, Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL); Brad MacKenzie, Grand Falls Rapids (MHL) and Tyson Ramsay, Virden Oil Capitals (MJHL) following a voting process completed by CJHL member-league commissioners and presidents. “It’s an honour and very special to be recognized by the CJHL,” Pier-Alexandre Poulin said. “If you told me a year ago I would be recognized like this I wouldn’t have believed it. There are so many great coaches in the CJHL and it’s an honour to be one of them.”
Pier-Alexandre showed creativity and initiative at a preseason camp where he divided players into small bubbles while making his drills compatible with imposed sanitary restrictions. Player development was also key as he solicited third-party instructors to further help boost his program. During the pandemic, he used multiple coaching and development tools, including the use of an outdoor rink to aid in the ability for his players to practice safely. He also secured sponsorship for specialized equipment to support individual learning on the outdoor ice.
This year’s CJHL Coach of the Year award will be presented virtually during the NHLCA’s Global Coaches’ Clinic taking place later this month. Poulin and his entire coaching staff are invited, as honorary guests, to take part in the event. “Getting to have access to that will be amazing,” Poulin said. “For me and my coaches to hear the presenters and be able to take back new things to our program is something we are looking forward to.”
The Condors will be recognized with a $5,000 contribution to their team on behalf of the NHLCA, as well as a donation from Bauer Hockey of $5,000 worth of equipment. “We are very grateful for those contributions,” he said. “Everything we did last year wasn’t easy on the budget and the school administration would approve what we needed to keep our kids engaged.”
Poulin and his staff are already preparing for the new season and will be active in staying in touch with their players and recruits. First up will be the Quebec Junior AAA Hockey League draft set for July 4.