Miniota’s Brad Cole has signed as head coach of the Briercrest Clippers. He and his family have made the move to Caronport, Sask. (near Moosejaw) for the hockey season.
After his breadth of experience from the Saskatoon Blades to European pro hockey, Cole says the job with Briercrest College and Seminary felt like a perfect fit.
He said, “Coaching was always in the back of my mind.”
He played six seasons in the WHL for the Saskatoon Blades, the Seattle Thunderbirds, and the Kootenay Ice. He went on to play in the AHL and ECHL before leaving for Europe, spending six years playing professionally in Slovenia, Austria, and Italy.
After retiring from the European hockey scene, Brad and wife Stephanie settled on a farm near Miniota, where they have been raising their two girls and producing honey.
Last season Cole played with the Miniota-Elkhorn C-Hawks which was “a lot of fun playing with guys that I grew up playing with,” he said, adding that the higher level of play in the Provincials against Boissevain was the most fun of his last eight years of hockey.
He has accepted his first coaching role after years of contact with Jamie Ramer, Briercrest Hockey’s General Mission Manager.
“Briercrest always intrigued me as it combines two of my greatest passions: a relationship with Jesus Christ and hockey. In hindsight, I wish I had come as a player years ago.”
“He brings a wealth of experience from all levels of the game,” said Ramer, noting that Cole has experienced winning a championship "and knows what it takes. ... [He] is a great addition to the team as we move forward with our program.”
At their Aug. 24 training camp, Cole assessed this year’s team.
“The first few days of training camp was a pleasant surprise,” he said, adding, “After reviewing our fitness tests, I would say, we have a lot of work ahead of us on the conditioning side of things.”
The team, like the trans-denominational Briercrest College, represents a “wide variety both on the spiritual side and on the athletic side,” says Cole.
The Clippers top goalie played in the Canadian Hockey League in Ontario. “I think our goalie is the best goalie in the league. He could have had other opportunities to play but he chose to come to the Christian school.
“Then we have guys that have played Junior B hockey in Ont., B.C. and all over. The main thing is that their attitudes and their work ethics are there, regardless of where they have come from.”
The new coach sees beyond the pucks, the sticks and the back of the net.
“We have some young men there who have gone through some really hard things… they’re visibly carrying that burden.
“It’s an opportunity to come alongside those guys, to encourage them in their walk with the Lord, and be a solid figure that they can come to. It’s not just about hockey, it’s about walking with those guys.”
Cole’s vision for the Clippers is to attract high level athletes to consider what Briercrest has to offer. Along with a BA program in several disciplines and Briercrest's partnership with Saskatchewan Polytechnic for a BA in Business Administration, there are substantial scholarships available.
“There’s no other school offering the Christian hockey program that Briercrest does.”
The Clippers will face off against other western colleges such as Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, Red Deer College and Concordia University.