Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association’s Brad Rihela has won a major award from the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association (PCAHA). Rihela has been named the 2023 recipient of the John Ptucha Coaching Development Award.
According to a PCAHA tweet, the award is given annually “to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to coaching development and coaching programs within the Lower Mainland.”
Rihela, CMHA’s head of player and coach development and also associate head coach/general manager of the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, certainly fits the description. He’s been with CMHA for three years. In a lengthy letter nominating him for the award, CMHA vice president Mark Dunn said Rihela has made a huge difference with the organization’s on and off-ice development.
“The development plan Brad created and implemented for CMHA is second to none,” Dunn wrote. “It focuses on coach development just as much as player development which has generated measurable success for the players and coaches in CMHA. Our association is in a better place due to the contributions Brad Rihela has made to helping CMHA become an association that prides itself on offering high-level development and coaching to minor hockey players.”
On the ice, Dunn said Rihela has developed a program that focuses on power skating, individual skill enhancement and team development. He’s also incorporated a season-long goaltending camp on top of a goaltender development program which pairs the goaltenders on each team with a dedicated coach for the season.
“The goalie coach attends practices regularly working on a progression-based development program specific to each goalie,” Dunn wrote. “The goalie coach also works with an assistant coach on the team to develop the skill of coaching goalies. The goalie coach will also provide off-ice support as needed throughout the season to the players and coaches on their team.”
Rihela programs, schedules, coaches/mentors in and oversees approximately 15 CMHA camps through the regular season and off-season, but he’s almost busier off the ice than he is on it.
“Brad provides ongoing one-on-one support and guidance to every coach in our association on any coach-related topics ranging from how to teach C-Cuts to how to create and implement a team-specific power play,” Dunn wrote. “As part of Brad’s development plan, he hosts coaching clinics for the coaches in CMHA regularly throughout the season. During these sessions, Brad will work on coaching techniques with the coaches, complete whiteboard sessions and spend time with coach talk where they all get a chance to learn from each other.”
He’s brought together a strength and conditioning team and developed a mental health support program that offers resiliency training and motivational support to players.
“Brad has instituted a nutritional program that provides players and coaches with education and planning on hockey-specific nutrition,” Dunn added. “Brad provides mandatory seminars to teams on respect and proper team etiquette. The coaches continue to work with Brad through the season to ensure the code of ethics and team standards are met.
“Brad Rihela has demonstrated his commitment to minor hockey development in so many ways.”
He received his award at the PCAHA annual general meeting, which was held May 28.