Brandon Janke, a life-long hockey player and now head coach for the Armstrong Dodge Huntsville Midget AE Otters, is described as a dedicated and passionate team player, a leader and a winner wherever he has been.
This year he has coached his team well into playoffs with their sights focused on the championship title.
Janke has been playing hockey since he learned to walk. As a child, he always had a hockey stick in his hand.
He played in Huntsville as an Otter for his entire minor hockey career, from Timbit to Midget and had the opportunity to skate in the pre-season for the then-Junior A Otters before making the decision to play for the North Bay Trappers.
Terry Excell had the pleasure of coaching Janke on the Huntsville BB Midget team, on to the North Bay Trappers Jr A, and finally to the Espanola Rivermen Jr A.
“Great understanding of the game and 100 different ways to score goals,” said Excell of Janke.
Janke loved the game of hockey as much as his coaches loved coaching him. “Before I knew it, my life was always about hockey, mini sticks, road hockey, you name it,” said Janke. He also made some of his best friendships while playing hockey and truly learned life lessons through the game.
As a player, his most memorable moments were winning the International Silver Sticks with the Huntsville Otters and then winning the NOJHL (Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League) Championship while playing Junior A.
As a first time coach, he loves that he is getting the opportunity to appreciate all of his former coaches with his new perspective as a teacher rather than a learner. He finds it rewarding to see improvement in his players throughout the season and the evolution of his exceptional team, which has so far won two rounds in the playoffs.
Janke has won many awards over his hockey career, with the NOJHL (Most Gentlemanly Player), the American Collegiate Hockey Association (First Team All Star) and the National Association of Inter Collegiate Athletics (First Team All Star).
Once Janke was done with his competitive hockey career, he struggled with being away from the ice and his passion. He does play on the GNHL Men’s League but he knew he had to get back in the game more often in some capacity. Janke was informed about a coaching opportunity with the Huntsville Minor Hockey Association and he was chosen as a non-parent coach.
Janke reflected on his previous coaches and wanted to apply what he was taught to his team. “They were all role models on and off the ice and I wanted to share what I’ve learned from them—Tom McCarthy, Bill Lang, Terry Excell, Lindsay Middlebrook, Gord Whitelaw, Mark Janke and so many more—with my team,” he said.
Excell said that Janke’s Midget team is lucky to have him as he is a fast and smart learner as a coach, just like he was as a player. Janke and his coaching bench staff are all good role models for the team.
“I’m so happy to be coaching with good friends Matt Young and Ethan MacKay [former teammate]and Dianna Clark for everything,” he said.
He also thanks all of the players on his team for giving him a laugh every day at the rink and feeding passion for the game back into him on a daily basis. “We’ve bought in to our ‘together as one’ identity, committed to each other in order for team success,” he said.
As a coach, Janke’s goal is to win the OHMAs, something he never did as a player. He said that the Midget AE Otters have played in some tight games this year and he believes that the team has matured which has helped them to win in such close games. Janke and his bench staff encourage the boys to play one round at a time and he hopes that his players are learning as many life lessons as he did while playing.
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