The Ontario Junior Hockey League announced today that James Richmond (photo credit - Brian Watts/OJHL Images) of the Aurora Tigers has been named the recipient of the 2013-14 OJHL Coach-of-the-Year Award.
After joining the Tigers during the summer of 2010 as General Manager and Head Coach, James Richmond has improved the club's record each season of his four-year tenure, capturing a second consecutive North Division crown in 2013-14, while also finishing as runner-up for the overall OJHL regular season title. The club's 38-12-3 record for 79 points and a .745 winning percentage is the best in franchise history since 2006-07 when they went on to capture the RBC Cup, National Junior ‘A’ Championship. They completed the impressive season with a league-best 22-4-0 record on the road; five more wins than any other team in the OJHL had when playing away from home, including a league-high 10 game winning streak and 9 game winning streak on the road (also finished the year with an 8 game road winning streak).
The defensively sound Tigers also topped the league by allowing just 122 goals against, led by OJHL Top Goaltender and 1st Team All-Star Kevin Entmaa, who personally led the league in wins, goals against average, save percentage and shutouts. Aurora accomplished this with a disciplined game that saw them finish with the second least penalty total, taking just 694 penalty minutes, while allowing the fewest power play goals against (31) as part of the fifth best penalty killing unit (83.94%).
With three players in the top 20 of overall OJHL scoring, the Tigers offensive game was not affected by the defensive conscious mindset. The club finished third in the league with 220 goals for, as well as the league's best power play, firing at a 26.19% success rate. Their offensive success was led by the forward trio of Kory Kennedy, Dylan Sikura and Taylor McCloy, while rookie defenceman Eric Williams anchored the blueline, leading all OJHL rearguards with 14 goals.
The 49-year old native of Mississauga, Ontario, who now resides in Oak Ridges, previously coached the Georgetown Raiders from 2005-06 to 2009-10, being named the MacKinnon Division's Coach-of-the-Year in 2008-09 after leading his club to the OJHL regular season title. After playing Junior 'B' for the famed Henry Carr Crusaders (now Orangeville Flyers), Richmond spent four seasons playing NCAA Division I hockey with the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, before turning professional in Europe. Following a brief minor pro career in Europe and North America, Richmond set his sights on coaching and has become a well-respected teacher of the game. This past summer, he was hired by the NHL's Los Angeles Kings in a player development role, spending time working with the club's younger players and prospects.
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.
Jason Fortier of the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots was named runner-up in the OJHL award balloting to Richmond.
Fortier joined the Patriots this season, previously having coached the Vaughan Vipers, and led the club to their first Conference and Division regular season title in franchise history, finishing with a 35-12-6 record for 76 points and a .717 winning percentage.
The Coach Canada Most Improved Player Award recipient will be announced later this week.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)