A former Lethbridge Hurricanes player credits his Midget AAA coach for helping him get to the WHL.
It was around 2014-2015 when Red Deer’s Ryan Vandervlis was 16. That’s when the then-Red Deer Optimist Chief Midget AAA player met his coach Brandin Cote, and went on to play with the Hurricanes right after.
The now Red Deer Vipers player was happy to hear his former coach, a Red Deerian, is assistant coach for Team Alberta Men’s Hockey team for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
As a teenager, Vandervlis went to practice, laced up his skates and played hockey. But Cote wanted his players to do something else as well.
“He taught me to think about the game beforehand, and thinking of your opponent beforehand and being ready to play your opponent… up until I had Cote as a coach I just approached games without much preparation,” said Vandervlis Wednesday.
The 20 year old was injured in a campfire accident that left him with severe burns on 60 per cent of his body during summer last year. On Wednesday, he said he is still recovering from the incident.
“Cote got me to think about my opponent before the game and thinking about what I was going to have to do to have success in every single given game and that’s something that stuck with me in all the years in Lethbridge.”
Perhaps many of Cote’s players have similar stories.
The coach, a former WHL player, also played in Europe, is able to understand his players and empathize with them.
“I understand what they’re feeling and what they’re going through especially in short term competitions.”
In a recent interview, the Red Deer coach said it’s an honour to be working with the best young hockey players in the province for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
After a knee injury, Cote couldn’t play anymore. He decided to attend Red Deer College and got a middle years education degree and started his coaching career around 2010.
“Having a playing background, it’s always one of those things, you never get the passion of the game out of you,” said the 37-year-old.
The born and raised Saskatchwan man is the assistant coach with the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL.
During every practice when Cote hits the ice, he aims to get through his players while teaching them concepts or just having a one-on-one conversation with them.
“It’s to help them evolve as people first and foremost, and as players,” the coach said.
The coach realizes not every player he coaches will make it to the NHL, but he pushes them to be the best they can be, both on and off the ice, and that’s what he enjoys about being a mentor.
Apart from coaching his players, Cote plays hockey with his two sons, Zachary, six, and Carter, four.
With all the players Cote coaches, his two boys have many role models to look up to, he says, with a chuckle.