The Ontario Junior Hockey League today announced that Greg Walters (photo credit - Izak Westgate/HHOF)of the Georgetown Raiders has been named the 2011-12 winner of the Coach-of-the-Year Award.
During his second season as the Raiders’ General Manager and Head Coach, Greg Walters led the club to the West Division, North-West Conference and overall OJHL regular season titles with a record of 39-9-1 for 79 points, edging out the defending regular season champion Newmarket Hurricanes by a single overtime victory for first place overall.
The regular season title marked the first for the Raiders since the 2008-09 season after finishing with a .806 winning percentage. The club accomplished the feat with an impressive statistical season that included a 20-4-1 record on the road and a league-high 15 game winning streak on the road that began on November 17, continuing through to the end of the regular season. The Raiders played a tough, but entertaining brand of hockey, finishing second in the OJHL with 1,189 penalty minutes, while also topping the league with 2,009 shots taken.
Not only did the club finish second in the OJHL with 224 goals scored, but the Walters-led club was defensively sound, allowing a league-low 109 goals against. “Wally,” as he affectionately referred to by those in the hockey world, also coached the Raiders to the best all-around special teams record in the OJHL. The club would finish first on the power play, going 67/240 for a 27.92% rating, while also finishing second best on the penalty kill at 87.50%, allowing only 38 goals on 304 opportunities.
One of the most well-respected and hardest-working coaches in the OJHL, Walters was previously a guest coach with Ontario’s Under-16 Program of Excellence during the 2006-07 season and this year was selected as an Assistant Coach for Team Canada East, helping them capture a silver medal at the 2011 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge that was held in Langley, B.C. During the Christmas break, he was also selected to guide the West Division All-Stars during the inaugural Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge that was held in Smiths Fall, Ontario.
The 41-year old native of Toronto, Ontario had a 12 year minor professional career as a defenceman after being drafted in the 4th round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, 80th overall, by the Toronto Maple Leafs. After spending time in the AHL, ECHL, IHL and UHL, Walters began his coaching career as a player-coach during his final season of pro hockey in 2001-02 with the UHL’s Port Huron Border Cats. The following year, he would join the OHL’s Sarnia Sting as Assistant Coach and then would spend the next eight years learning his craft with the Sting. Looking for a new challenge, Walters returned home, taking over the reins of the Georgetown Raiders last season, 2010-11.
The OJHL Coach-of-the-Year Award is awarded to the Head Coach that is adjudged to have contributed the most to his club’s success throughout the course of the regular season.
Craig Donovan of the Stouffville Spirit was runner-up in the OJHL award balloting to Walters. Donovan led the Spirit to a 32-8-9 record, with 73 points, to finish in second place in the North Division after losing numerous key players from the 2010-11 season.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)