A near perfect season came to a fitting conclusion on Sunday when Swift Current Abbey Resources Midget AA Broncos head coach Todd Hornung was named the Saskatchewan Hockey Association Coach of the Year.
Hornung was presented the award at the team’s year-end banquet by SHA representative Greg Haubrich, who noted that Hornung was selected from approximately 6,000 registered coaches in the province.
“Humbling,” said Hornung of the recognition. “Very humbling to start with. Like I told them [the team], I struggle with it a little bit, the fact that it’s not something that comes about without our whole group and our whole team participating in it, especially the guys, Dan [Johnson] and Jody [Larson] that helped me. I’m humbled to receive it. Everybody in that room has a piece of that plaque.”
Hornung led the Broncos to an AA Provincial title as they won 47 of 48 games, including an unbeaten run through their league.
“We go through each individual player, I think they all learned different lessons. There’s guys that will learn stuff about sitting out at the end and struggling through it, a tough time where they really wanted to be there for our team but they found different ways to support our team. Work ethic, staying consistent, the list goes on and on. I didn’t have to coach these boys as much as maybe everybody thinks. It was just a special group. It was a good group of kids. They bought in to our plan all the way along. I was fortunate to have them.”
Hornung said he has evolved as a coach over the years since his playing days ended.
“I have learned a lot. I kind of did it in reverse order. I started in Junior A, AAA [Midget], and then back to Peewee and worked my way back up. You learn something new every year. You learn something from your coaches every year and I learned a lot from these guys. I learned a lot from guys I worked with in the past. I think every year you coach, just like going to high school, you learn a little bit more knowledge and how to handle kids and new systems and all that stuff. So every year you coach you just progress.”
Hornung played for the Portland Winterhawks, Lethbridge Hurricanes, and Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League before stints in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League and with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
“Growing up in Swift the guy I always remember playing for was Barry Flichel. I learned a lot from him as a player growing up. I got to Junior hockey and I got to play for a guy like Brent Peterson, who ended up coaching in Nashville and Todd McLellan here in Swift Current,” said Hornung.
“It’s the same as your assistant coaches when you’re coaching. Every coach you learn from does one thing that you always remember or handles you or a kid, whether it’s a positive or negative way, that you learn from. Every coach that you ever have is influential.”
Hornung added that this year was a season to remember.
“They just bought into everything you said. It was a group that if we went to them and said we need this out of certain guys, they just stepped up. One guy goes down, it was next man up and they did that throughout the year. To have kids that can just commit and buy in that way is so helpful to us. I don’t know, they’re special. I’ll remember that team forever.”