Okanagan Hockey Ontario named Brad Tapper the Head Coach of the newly formed 16U team, that will compete in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League beginning in September.
Tapper joins Okanagan Hockey Ontario from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, where he served as an assistant coach.
We caught up with the former National Hockey League player to get to know him a little better.
What are you looking forward to most in your first season with Okanagan Hockey Ontario?
“The thing that I am most looking forward to over the course of the season is seeing the development process for each student athlete. In saying that, I mean not just the athletes’ development on the ice but off the ice as well. Becoming a good character person is something that is very important to Okanagan Hockey.”
You have been coaching for 10 years, mostly at the professional level. Describe yourself as a coach. What can your student athletes expect from you next season?
“I am a coach that allows players to be creative and make plays. We will be prepared, and I will expect respect to go both ways and we are going to have a lot of fun.”
Which coaches have influenced your coaching style the most?
“You learn from every coach, good or bad. The most influential coaches to me include John Anderson, John Paddock, Greg Poss, Brad McCrimmon and others. They allowed me to make mistakes and have fun but corrected me when I was doing too much on the ice.”
You are a former student athlete in the NCAA at RPI. What can you take from that experience to teach the student athletes at OHO, which follow a similar schedule of a structured day consisting of academics and athletics, with games on weekends?
“Being at RPI taught me structure in all areas of life. From being on time to making sure that my schooling was complete on a daily basis. Being able to help our student athletes this year I will know what they're going through and will help them through this process. Time management is a big part of that, so we'll make sure every student-athlete we have will be prepared.”
You have played in the best league in the world and have coached at the AHL level. What has been your favorite moment as a player and favorite moment as a coach?
“There are so many moments as a player, but a couple being able to play in front of your wife and kids, wearing the Canadian emblem, winning a Calder Cup in the AHL with Chicago to travelling the world. As a coach in 2012 winning the Kelly Cup was super exciting.”
Interested in attended Okanagan Hockey Ontario next season? Contact General Manager Paul Pascuzzi at: firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I can confidently say the Okanagan Hockey Academy had an impact on me as a hockey player but more importantly as a person. OHA taught me to bring my best self in all aspects of life including as a student, player and community member. I learned many life skills during my time at OHA that I will take with me much longer than my playing career and that is the greatest gift the staff, coaches, billets and community gave to me. I strongly believe I am a more well-rounded individual because of my time at OHA. I hope any young hockey player with drive, determination and a passion to become a better player and person is able to have the chance to attend somewhere so amazing. For me OHA gave me the best balance of academics, athletics, family and social life. I am extremely grateful for my time at Okanagan Hockey Academy.