By Emanuel Sequeira, KIJHL Communications Manager
Being on the bench of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, it’s another step closer to Adam Maglio realizing his ultimate goal of coaching in the NHL.
Working with head coach Manny Viveiros and assistant coaches Adam Deadmarsh and Dustin Donaghy, Maglio says he wouldn’t be there were it not for playing in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL).
Maglio, a Nelson native, spent two seasons in the KIJHL, debuting as a rookie with the Leafs then his playing rights were traded to the Castlegar Rebels to start the 2006-07 season. In 93 career regular season games, Maglio had 28 goals and 67 points for a points-per-game average of 0.72.
“It was great. When I played in Castlegar, Aaron Wilbur was my head coach,” said Maglio, during an interview prior to a regular season game in January. “Another guy I can’t thank enough for all he did for me as a player. My first year at UBC, he was an assistant coach there. It comes full circle.
“I really think that that league, it's a good league to further a career in hockey, whether it’s in playing or coaching,” continued Maglio. “You get surrounded by some pretty good people. You start to draw on your experiences from playing, but also the coaches you have. That was the biggest impact for me. Aaron being a big part of that - refueled my passion for the game.”
Wilbur’s positive interaction with players had an impact on Maglio, adding that “makes you want to stay in the game and give back what he gave back.”
There are times Maglio’s playing days in the KIJHL enter his mind with the Chiefs. Maglio isn’t afraid to admit when he began coaching after playing, he really didn’t know a lot about the game.
“The real learning curve starts when you enter the coaching world,” says Maglio. “You learn real fast and maybe you don’t know as much as you think you did.”
With the game always changing, Maglio needs to keep up, but he loves that. He thrives on the challenge and competitiveness of sport and hockey.
From the KIJHL, Maglio continued his playing career in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s third division with Morrisville State College, where he spent two seasons then moved onto U Sports with UBC.
It was there that a coaching career piqued his interest. He also had two really good assistant coaches that helped guide him in that direction while playing. He gained more experience as a coach while playing overseas for the Hong Kong Tycoons.
While there he started a youth academy and fell in love with it. A call from his former coach Tyler Kuntz brought Maglio back to UBC as an assistant coach. That was a huge learning curve, but he turned that position into a job with the B.C. Hockey League’s Prince George Spruce Kings for four years, the last two as head coach.
The connections he developed while with Prince George helped him land his current position with the Chiefs. Maglio loved his time in Prince George because it was such a positive experience. As the youngest team in the league his first year, they lost the BCHL’s Fred Page Cup championship, then won in year two, then lost in the national championship game.
Maglio’s first season with the Chiefs has been good.
“It’s been a good stepping stone for me. I've really enjoyed it,” says Maglio.
“Working with Manny, our head coach - experience winning the league title, but also coaching in the National Hockey League and many years coaching pro in Europe. It’s been incredible to draw on some of his experiences.”
It’s been another learning curve for Maglio dealing with different athletes. Their pathways are to the pro. They have NHL draft picks, including first rounder Ty Smith.
They have potential high round draft picks in Jack Finley, 46th among North American Skaters, and KIJHL alum and former Spokane Brave Bear Hughes, 80th, as of early January. Maglio says the players are driven to make careers from the game.
Maglio has also learned from working with Deadmarsh, the former Nitehawk (90-91), who won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche.
“I think that’s kind of one thing that’s maybe a little bit unique for our staff in here,” he says. “We have all won championships, just at different levels. It’s interesting drawing off all our different experiences.”