Cochrane Crunch Jr A Hockey Club provides life changing experiences to young elite hockey players. We strive to develop players through programs that will support and enhance their growth, within a community that values youth development and creating opportunities.
Our mission is to provide Jr A Hockey Players an environment where they will gain valuable knowledge, experience and exposure to help them advance in their professional hockey careers and academic studies.
We had the opportunity to ask Head Coach Tom Nickolau some questions regarding the importance of being a coach as well as the atmosphere that Cochrane provides.
How Long have you been Coaching the Cochrane Crunch for?
My 25 +years coaching, and professional hockey career has allowed me to be part of young hockey athletes achieve some remarkable goals. I have been fortunate to be a part of their journey. I came to the Cochrane Crunch in the 2020-2021 season, it was a unique year and fortunate to have been able to play some form of Junior A hockey. The coaches and players had to adapt to a very non-conventional form and hard year of Junior A Hockey. This will be the first full regular year as Head Coach of the Cochrane Crunch.
How would you describe your coaching style?
The goal is to help each player develop their skills, grow as individuals and help them be successful in their personal and professional goals. Coaching has changed since I started coaching over 25 years ago, adapting to the needs of players from one generation to another has elevated my awareness to the individual needs of each player and allowed me to continue coaching.
I am a player’s coach; I am here for the players and to help them develop as individuals and as athletes. While I expect respect, discipline and 100% effort, I am aware that each player is an individual with their own way of learning, developing and needs for mental and emotional growth. I believe an open mind, a willingness to listen, learn and adjust both as a coach and a player equals growth and success as a team and individual!
What are your goals for the season?
Develop a team and players through necessary tools, to a level that will propel players to the next level, which will open opportunities to play at a NCAA, University, Europe or Pro level, while creating a powerful, united and skilled team to win a championship.
What do you look for in a player?
There are many factors that go into recruiting players. The obvious may be talent. But talent only goes so far. To be successful as a team there must be common values and having the same goals. Every player must work independently for their own growth, but they must also be just as committed to have their players’ backs and help them succeed. The CRUNCH Team Values are the building blocks for what a CRUNCH player must exhibit, work on and uphold.
CRUNCH TEAM VALUES
- No Man Left Behind
- Community Service
How Do You Handle Stress as A Coach?
When you love what you do, you find ways of looking and handling setbacks and challenges. It is a position that requires being adaptable and looking at situations from different angles. I handle coaching and hockey like chess, it takes patience and strategy, if you react you will make a move that is not the best move for the game.
Some people may not know about the town of Cochrane, how would you describe the community?
Cochrane lies on the forty-ninth parallel. Cochrane is home to many amenities that are attractive to people of all ages. An active community all throughout the year and four seasons Cochrane is a recreationally driven community. Home of the Tim Horton Event Centre, the only Bike Share program in Northern Ontario, a local community beach (in the middle of town) that allows people to enjoy all watersports.
Surrounded by vast rural areas, the adventurer will find extensive kilometers of trails for cycling, hiking, ATVing, snowmobiling and other power sports. Some near water bodies that offer the perfect fishing conditions and others near sandy beaches perfect for a camping getaway in the Northern wilderness, which is Cochrane’s backyard.
What does Bothwell’s support mean to you/the team?
Bothwell’s support will help open opportunities for these young athletes as well as develop their personal and hockey skills. Bothwell’s support means that 23 players will have the opportunity to develop and play at a Junior A level, broaden their discipline and character on and off the ice which is invaluable to their future endeavours. There are many expenses involved in managing a higher caliber team at the Junior A level. Your support will provide the means for traveling expenses, training and development platforms, ice cost, team dressing room expenses and allow the growth and success of Junior A Hockey players.
As someone who has dedicated his entire life to hockey, building teams, player development and vision of creating opportunities in a very competitive sport, I recognize that Bothwell understands the challenges athletes and organizations face as well as the importance of community. Having Bothwell’s support and having a common belief in the future of young athletes is invaluable.