Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - Submitted by Georgia Briggs
The CBR Brave have announced an expanded coaching roster for 2018 with the appointment of two new assistant coaches - Mike Sargeant and Gordon Cockell.
With the mighty Rob Starke reappointed as Head Coach, the addition of Mike and Gordon is set to further strengthen the depth of experience on the bench.
Mike Sargeant, this writer likes to think we’ll call him ‘Sarge’, moved the Canberra in 2011 with his wife and children after a long stint in Canada. Having ice hockey long running through his veins, beginning his own playing at age 4, he immediately joined the Canberra Senators and played for laughs and for keeps before ultimately began to coach. “I started coaching for IHACT in the 2012 season coaching the Atoms, where my daughter played. Since joining IHACT I have served as the Head Coach for two teams representing IHACT at National Championships.”
We can also credit Mike for establishing, along with Diane Doornbros, IHACT’s New Player Development Program for Junior players and the Summer Skills Program for Junior players.
From his first coaching role in 2012 he has built his presence both as a coach and an overall contributor to the IHACT community. “I also served as the IHACT Coaching Director. I am currently the Junior Coaching Director for IHACT, responsible for all the coaches working with IHACT players from Squirt to the Jr. Brave. For past 4 years I have also coached at the IHA Development Camp held in January.”
Mike says he’s looking forward to his new role. “[Being] a part of a well-run professional organisation and the opportunity to coach at the highest level in Australian hockey is exciting”
“Ever since I moved to Canberra and learned more about the AIHL I have often thought that it would be a great league to play in. Unfortunately, I was well past the age to do so. Joining the Brave will give me a chance to return to competitive hockey at a high level and gain experience in the league.” Mike also noted that working with the respected coaching team, particularly Rob Starke, will allow him to continue to learn and develop as a coach.
“I also hope to be able to use my experience with IHACT to develop the relationship between the two organizations, and IHACT to create a development path for players from Squirts through to the Brave.”
Most importantly, Mike has his sights set on the prize. “I’m looking forward to working with Brave players to help build on the success that has been achieved over the past few seasons and bring the cup to Canberra.”
Gordon Cocknell, no nickname currently in the works, has been involved in ice hockey for over 45 years and has experienced the game from many different perspectives.
As a player growing up in suburban Ottawa, Canada, he played in the shadows of many extremely talented players, the most successful being the legendary Steve Yzerman. Notable others from his cohort in Nepean Minor Hockey include Jeff Chychrun, Jeff Brown, Darren Pang and Dave Lowry.
Gordon achieved most of his individual success as a referee, being assigned to several national events including the Canada Games, the National Tier 2 Junior A Championships, and the National Midget AAA Championships.
Like most ex-players who will forever love the game, Gordon was keen on giving back to the community and coached minor hockey for many years, covering all age groups in competitive and house league minor hockey. He was among the first instructors for the Hockey Canada Initiation Program (aimed at introducing 5-8 year olds to the basics of hockey), and helped run the program in the Nepean Minor Hockey Association for several years.
Gordon moved to Canberra last September to work as a toxicologist with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). His professional career with Health Canada was a perfect fit for employment with the APVMA and he is excited to experience the life and culture in Australia, with a taste of Canada thrown in thanks to the opportunity to assist with the CBR Brave. He is thrilled to be part of a group that shares his passion for the game.
Like his co-coach, Gordon is also extremely pleased with his new role. “I’m estatic! I moved to Canberra in September last year from Canada. I had never heard of the AIHL until I saw interview with Wayne Gretzky. He was very supportive of the AIHL. I didn’t know that there was anything remotely ice hockey related in Australia, so I’m over the moon with the opportunity.”
This writer asked Gordon the all important question, has someone prepared him for the Brave Cave? “Absolutely! I know what I’m in for and I couldn’t be more excited. In Canada, if it’s a big rink and it’s not full then the atmosphere is lacking but in a small rink with not much capacity and pack for the rafters with people, it’s so exciting.”
Gordon notes that the Brave have been competitive the last few seasons and looks forward to the depth he can bring to the table, “having seen the sport from so many different angles. [I’ve] played, refereed at extremely high level and coached. I haven’t managed though, that’s for someone who likes to be organised [laughs].”
The last person to our coaching squad, our hailed Leader Mr Rob Starke is very pleased to expand the staff into bigger and better things. “Mike and Gord are both passionate about ice hockey, will be strong contributors and are terrific additions to the Brave coaching staff. They will be mature in their approach and are excellent communicators. I expect them to resonate very well with all our players. They possess integrity and unquestionable character and I look forward to working with them.”
As to the Brave overall season preparations, the King of the North says it’s coming along well. "The majority of our players are playing overseas and I expect them to arrive in Canberra in top form. We have started our pre season training for our players currently in Canberra and to date the guys are working hard in preparation for the upcoming season. There will be some changes to our playing group and adjustments in our play but we will continue to play Brave hockey and do our very best to achieve success. I expect the league to be very competitive again and no games should be taken for granted in the AIHL."
"There are high expectations for our 2018 season and there is plenty of reason for optimism and certainly a sense of unfinished business for the CBR Brave."