Cents add depth behind the bench with new coaching hire

By on August 3, 2017
Twenty-two-year-old Brandon Shaw from Ontario has joined the Merritt Centennials’ coaching staff for the 2017-18 BCHL season. (Photo contributed).


The Merritt Centennials have enhanced their coaching situation for the 2017-18 BCHL campaign with the hiring of 22-year-old Brandon Shaw from Barrie, Ont.

Shaw joins Matt Samson as a second assistant on the bench under Joe Martin, who is in his seventh season with the hockey club and third as head coach and GM.

Shaw spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Cambridge Winterhawks Jr. B hockey team in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL), while also acting as a regional scout for the Centennials.

Shaw played a major role in the recruiting of 18-year-old centre Ashton Stockie from Stratford, Ont., who recently signed with the Centennials for the upcoming BCHL season. Stockie played for the Kitchener Dutchmen of the GOJHL in 2016-17, scoring 16 goals and adding 28 assists for 44 points in 60 regular season and playoff games.

Shaw also graduated this spring from McMaster University in Hamilton with a degree in psychology.

During his time in the Steel City, Shaw worked for two seasons with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League/Ontario Hockey League (AHL/OHL) as a hockey operations intern, providing the coaching staff with advanced statistics and data on players during game action.

“As a coach and a young person within the game of hockey, I want to grow and develop. After talking to Joe, it just seemed like the right move,” – Brandon Shaw.

“The hiring of Brandon is going to make us a better coaching staff,” said the Cents’ Martin late last week. “He’s a very good scout, and knows the kinds of players I like to have. He understands people, and as a result, I believe, has the ability to get a lot out of them.

“Brandon’s also done a lot of advanced statistics, which we’ve only touched upon here. It takes a lot of time to break down a game, and if Brandon can do that, it’s a great asset for us. Players are recognizing and paying attention to [statistics] more, so we want to be able to adapt.

“It really helps having two assistant coaches,” added Martin. “It makes our program better, and it will help our players. It will help us streamline and be more professional. We’re only scratching the surface with so many things that we do. Having Brandon will help us go deeper.”

Shaw, for his part, is extremely excited about coming out to B.C. to begin the next stage of his life and career.

“The word that filters back East is that the BCHL is fast-paced, competitive, and some of the best junior hockey in Canada because of the speed and skill,” said Shaw.

“The BCHL is also viewed as one of the best developmental leagues in the country. It graduates on average 110 players a season to the NCAA and CIS (American and Canadian colleges and universities), and that’s the goal at the end of the day for both players and coaches.

“As a coach and a young person within the game of hockey, I want to grow and develop. After talking to Joe, it just seemed like the right move.”

Asked about his strengths in a coaching capacity, Shaw said, “definitely attention to detail, leadership, a focus on teamwork and on developing a player both on and off the ice, and my experience with analytics.”

Shaw stated that his background in psychology also helps him in dealing with the variable needs and emotions of young players, both individually and collectively. He doesn’t see his age as a liability.

“I take it as a positive. The biggest thing is you have to earn [the players’] respect — by your knowledge of the game, and how you hold yourself as an individual.”

Shaw’s own hockey career as a player ended prematurely. While playing Junior A with the Rama Aces of the Greater Metro Hockey League (GMHL), he suffered a severe concussion that resulted in a brain bleed.

“After talking to my doctors and my family, I made the decision to stop playing hockey and get on with my education. The opportunity to work with the Bulldogs while I was attending university got me back into the game, and helped lead me to where I am now.”

Another life-changing experience for Shaw was a trip to India he took as a mission leader with his high school in the months following his concussion.

“My parents, my coaches and my teachers all thought that it would be a good idea to take part — to see what life was like outside of sport.”

The one-month trip helped Shaw to recognize how knowledge and learning empowered people, and broadened his understanding of other cultures and environments. He now lists children and education, civil rights and social action, disaster and humanitarian relief, and poverty alleviation as important causes he cares about.

Shaw was a defenseman during his playing days, and he will coach the Cents’ blueliners this coming season. He has a clear vision of what makes a successful player in today’s game.

“The biggest things in my mind are character and hockey IQ. [The latter] is a bit of

a mysterious term, but it means the ability to think the game and process it quickly. I’m also a big fan of being mobile, especially playing in the BCHL.”

Shaw is currently at his father’s home in Prince Edward Island for the summer. He and his dad will be leaving for Merritt on Aug. 5, and driving across Canada.

“We’ll pick up a bunch of my stuff in Ontario, and then continue on to B.C.,” Shaw said. “I’ve flown across the country before, but never driven.”

The Shaws are no strangers to travel. Brandon’s dad is with the RCMP, and the family has lived all over.

“I was actually born in Vancouver,” said Brandon. “We’ve even lived in Nunavut (Northwest Territories).”

Shaw will take up residence in Merritt with Mike Pears and Vickie Taylor, both local members of Canada’s national police force. Shaw plans to get on their good side right off the bat.

“I’m planning to bring some lobsters out for everybody,” he said with a laugh.

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