Date:  Source: Ontario Junior A Hockey League

This week the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) is announcing the recipients of the 2018-19 OHA Awards and today we are pleased to announce that Oakville Blades head coach, Mike Tarantino, is the OHA Coach of the Year.

Mike Tarantino (Oakville, Ont.) joined the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Oakville Blades as head coach in the 2014-15, after previously serving as head coach and general manager of the Toronto Lakeshore Patriots in the OJHL for three seasons. With Tarantino leading the bench, the Blades won the 2019 OHA Buckland Cup and the 2019 Dudley-Hewitt Cup in his fifth season with the organization.

This season, Tarantino coached the Blades to a first-place finish in the OJHL West Division with a record of 44  wins, 5 losses, 2 ties, 4 overtime losses and 94 points. Tarantino and Oakville’s regular season was capped off with a West Division win and earned the team playoff berth. Oakville also held the league’s highest winning-percentage at .861 per cent. The Blades lost two games in a row just twice all season long in 2018-19 under Tarantino’s guidance.

Tarantino and the Blades went through the OJHL playoffs and advanced to the OHA Buckland Cup with series wins over the Lockport Regals (4-1), Buffalo Jr. Sabres (4-1) and the Markham Royals (4-1) en route to a finals berth. In the finals, Tarantino’s Blades faced and defeated the 2018 OHA Buckland Cup champion, Wellington Dukes in four games to capture the 2019 championship. The Tarantino-led Blades later advanced to the Dudley-Hewitt Cup in Cochrane, Ont. and they went a perfect 4-0-0 to capture the championship, too. The team is currently in Brooks, Alta. competing in the National Junior A Championship.

Tarantino is an excellent communicator who has helped his players advanced to higher levels of hockey in his 15-year coaching career. Ten of his players have already committed to play in the NCAA, and others have committed to play at various universities in an upcoming hockey season moving forward. He enjoys helping out with OJHL events, working with his assistants and listening to what works well for other teams in the league.

Tarantino plays all four lines and his six defencemen and the team believes that has helped the Blades have success. Under Tarantino, the Blades were the second least penalized team in the OJHL. He is a positive individual who uses video to help instruct the Blades players, and as a result, each player has sat out at one point in the 2018-19 season.

As a player, Tarantino played for the Blades for from 1996-2000. In the OPJHL, Tarantino scored 134 points in 84 games, all with Oakville. Tarantino moved on and to played for the Rochester Insitute of Technologie (RIT) Tigers in the NCAA. In his NCAA career, he had posted 171 points in four seasons.

Tarantino’s coaching career began in 2004 with the NCAA’s Bowling Green State University. He remained with Bowling Green for one season before returning to the OPJHL to become an assistant coach with the Milton IceHawks. After one season behind the Milton bench, Tarantino coached minor hockey in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) with the Mississauga Reps Midget AAA team for four seasons. He returned to the OJHL in 2010 and was named general manager and head coach of the Upper Canada Patriots (Toronto Patriots). He remained with the Patriots organization for four seasons before joining the Blades in 2014.

Tarantino has some hardware and this season he added to it. In 2014 he was awarded the OJHL’s Executive of the Year Award. At the conclusion of the regular season in 2018-19, he was named the OJHL’s Coach of the Year and was recently nominated for the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Coach of the Year Award (Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award).  

Along with his coaching duties with the Blades, Tarantino teaches in his hometown of Oakville. He, his wife and two young daughters reside in Oakville.

Congratulations to Mike Tarantino on being named the OHA’s Coach of the Year.

The remaining 2018-18 OHA Awards winners will be announced this week and recipients will formally receive their awards at the OHA Awards Ceremony and Annual General Meeting at Holiday Inn Kitchener-Cambridge Convention Center in Kitchener, Ont. on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

Monday (May 13) - Officials Awards

Tuesday (May 14) - Coach of the Year & Trainer of the Year awards

Wednesday (May 15) - BJ Monro Award

Thursday (May 16) - OHA Top Prospects

Friday (May 17) - Donald Sanderson Memorial Award