PROSPECTS | Andre Tourigny, Ottawa 67s, OHL, CHL, Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year, Award, NHL, Entry Draft, Stephane Julien, Sherbrooke Phoenix, QMJHL, Brad Lauer, Edmonton Oil Kings, WHL

Andre Tourigny (Photo by Wayne Cuddington / Postmedia)

ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA — Over the coming weeks, The Canadian Hockey League will be announcing the recipients of their 10 major awards for the 2019-2020 season. The CHL is split into three leagues across Canada and each of those leagues will have a nominee represented.

This is the third installment in a series that will provide a summary of each of the respective nominee’s seasons, along with a prediction of who I think deserves to win the award, and of course, the actual winner as announced by the CHL. Enjoy!

Up next, The CHL Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year Award presented by Janes.

The Nominees

WHL: Brad Lauer, Edmonton Oil Kings
OHL: Andre Tourigny, Ottawa 67s
QMJHL: Stephane Julien, Sherbrooke Phoenix

Brad Lauer, who just completed his second season behind the bench of the Edmonton Oil Kings, witnessed improvements in all facets of the game from his young squad. The team won the Central division and Eastern conference by a nine point margin, with a record of 42-12-6-4 (94 points) in a pandemic shortened 64-game season. That’s two more points than the previous year, where they finished with a record of 42-18-4-4, but also played a full 68-game schedule.

The offence, led by 2020 draft-eligible, left-winger Jake Neighbours (projected late first rounder) and 2021 draft-eligible left-winger Dylan Guenther, put up 3.81 goals for per game, good enough for fifth best in the WHL. That’s a 0.29 goal-per-game improvement, projected over a full 68-game schedule greater than the 3.52 the 2018-2019 squad put up.

The defense, led by Matthew Robertson, who is a New York Rangers 2019 second round pick, 49th overall, saw a .28 team goals against per game improvement from the 2018-2019 squad. The Oil Kings’ defence was sixth best in the WHL with a 2.88 goals against average.

Lauer, a native of Humboldt, Saskatchewan, previously spent eight years in the NHL as an assistant coach, including stints in Tampa Bay, Anaheim and Ottawa. He also has experience as an assistant coach in the AHL, with the Milwaukee Admirals and the Syracuse Crunch. This followed a lengthy pro career where he played 323 games at the NHL level along with 26 games in the AHL and 609 games in the IHL.

His current position with the Oil Kings is his first as a head coach. With his nomination, Lauer is trying to become the 12th coach, and first since Jim Hiller of the Tri-City Americans won in 2011-12, of the WHL to win the Brian Kilrea Award.

Ottawa 67’s third year bench boss, Andre Tourigny has had an impressive coaching career to date. He has only missed the playoffs once in his 17-year junior coaching career with Ottawa, Halifax, Rouyn-Noranda, and Shawinigan.

None of those teams were as successful as the Ottawa 67’s from 2018-2020 with back-to-back 50-win seasons and an appearance in the OHL Finals. Prior to the pandemic cancellation, another deep playoff run was looming with recent years arguably being the highlights of the Nicolet, Quebec native’s coaching career so far.

The veteran laden 67’s enjoyed an offensive explosion in 2019-2020, scoring 4.77 goals per game. That is an almost half a goal for per game improvement over the 2018-2019 result of 4.35. The offense was led by 2020 NHL draft-eligible standout, Marco Rossi, named CHL Top Scorer Award winner this season. It also featured a breakout campaign from fellow 2020 NHL draft-eligible prospect Jack Quinn. The right-winger is projected as a mid first-rounder.

The defense, which led the OHL in 2018-2019 in team goals against average at 2.69, improved on that already impressive statistic by holding opponents to an astounding 2.64 team goals against average in 2019-2020. It was led by veteran rear guard Noel Hoefenmayer, a 2017 fourth round pick by Arizona, who recently signed his first pro contract with the AHL`s Toronto Marlies.

Even though Tourigny was not able to see the potential damage his league-leading team could have done in the 2019-2020 OHL playoffs, he was able to help the 2020 Team Canada World Juniors win a gold medal in the Czech Republic. The assistant bench boss of the Mark Hunter led squad, even got a taste of game action with a barehanded puck catch to save the Canadians from a potentially crucial puck over glass, delay of game penalty late in a round robin game versus the United States. With his nomination, Tourigny is trying to become the fourth coach from the OHL to win the award in the last six years.

Stephane Julien has been behind the bench with the Sherbrooke Phoenix for six seasons. He started as an assistant coach on Judes Vallee`s squad in 2012-2013, and after a dismal 16-win campaign in 2013-2014, he took over the reigns as head coach the following season. In his four years at the helm, the Phoenix have improved their point and win totals every year, topping out with a franchise high record of 51-8-3-1 in a 63-game pandemic shortened 2019-2020.

The offense was constructed around veteran center Felix Robert, overage right-winger Alex-Olivier Voyer and 2019 Penguins first round pick, Samuel Poulin. The trio led Sherbrooke to score a league-leading 290 goals (4.63 goals per game). The defense, led by 19 year-old Samuel Bolduc, a 2019 New York Islanders second round pick and Slovakian import goaltender Samuel Hlavaj, ranked as the third best North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting, helped the Phoenix achieve a team goals-against average of 2.60, good enough for second in the QMJHL.

With his nomination, Julien is trying to become the 10th QMJHL coach to win the Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year award in its 33-year history.

Mike`s Pick

Wow! This is a tough one. All three coaches led their respective teams close to league leading results. All three saw significant improvements in their squad’s performances compared to the previous season, and in some cases, several previous seasons. And, perhaps most importantly, since this is an award to lead a major junior hockey team, all three are developing at least one high end 2020 NHL draft eligible prospect.

Both Julien and Lauer should be complimented for their respective impressive performances. Sherbrooke and Edmonton were potentially on a collision course to the now cancelled 2020 Memorial Cup. They may have met Tourigny there too!

For me, the development side is king. Therefore, Andre Tourigny deserves to win the 2019-2020 Brian Kilrea CHL Coach of the Year award. The biggest factor was the improvement he was able to nourish in Rossi and Quinn (55 and 57 point increases from 2018-2019 compared to 2019-2020.)

Even though veterans like Joseph Garreffa and Austen Keating helped the young bucks develop as well, ultimately, Andres leadership to play the youngsters in all situations is what helped to nourish them into 2020 NHL Draft eligible first round locks. Tourigny was able to achieve the perfect blend of all his age groups in 2019-2020, and that is what successful junior hockey is all about.

CHL Coach of the Year Award

The 2019-20 recipient of the CHL’s Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year Award is Andre Tourigny, head coach of the Ottawa 67’s.

“I’d like to congratulate Andre Tourigny for being named the 2019-20 Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year,” said Paul Craft, Vice President of Marketing, Sofina Foods.

The 46-year-old from Nicolet, Quebec, helped this year’s 67’s equal the franchise’s all-time best mark of 50 wins set one year ago despite playing in six fewer games as a result of the abbreviated schedule. The team also set a franchise record with a 17-game winning-streak that spanned from November 16 to January 10. Another highlight of Tourigny’s season was winning gold as an assistant coach for Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship. He will return as the program’s head coach in 2020-21.

“It’s a tremendous honour for me and my staff to get coach of the year in the CHL,” said Tourigny. “In the CHL you have 60 head coaches and staff who work really hard during the season so to be recognized by the CHL with coach of the year, me and my coaching staff are really blessed and honoured. Our ownership and our management give us all of the tools to make that happen, and I want to also thank our players for all of their support and hard work during the season to make it happen. I want to thank the Commissioners and Dan (MacKenzie) for the tremendous honour.”

Award winners are selected by NHL Central Scouting in association with the CHL.

Up Next

Stay tuned for the next installment featuring the CHL Rookie of the Year Award. The nominees are Dylan Guenther (Edmonton Oil Kings), Shane Wright (Kingston Frontenacs) and Zachary Bolduc (Rimouski Oceanic.)

More From This Series

Marco Rossi, CHL Top Scorer of the Year Award

Alexis Lafreniere, CHL Top Prospect of the Year Award

Cheers for now, Mike

By Michael Raschle, Contributor – Special Content.
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