One of the members of the Brooks Bandits first national championship-winning team is finding his way back to Southern Alberta.
Taylor Makin has been hired as the Alberta Junior Hockey League team’s assistant coach.
Makin is looking forward to the opportunity to coach the team he had a lot of success with in Brooks. He will be handling the defence and the penalty kill.
“Bringing that work ethic, bringing that supercompetitive side; I want to win,” explains the affable 28 year-old from Blairmore.
Makin played 178 games in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants, before finding his way to Southern Alberta. Makin enjoyed an extremely successful time in Brooks. According to a press release from the Bandits, “in the 2012-13 season, he had 50 points (18G, 32A) in 50 regular season games. He followed that with 16 points (7G, 9A) in 17 playoff games, capturing the 2013 AJHL Championship. He appeared in 6 games at the 2013 Western Canada Cup in Nanaimo, BC, producing 3 points (1G, 2A) in 6 games. At the 2013 RBC Cup in Summerside, PEI, he had 4 points (4A) in 5 games, helping the Bandits win their first National Championship.”
He also went to Acadia University from 2013-18; then in 2018-19 went and played for the Brest Albatros in France in the Division 1 league there and finally played a year at Evansville (Indiana) in the Southern Professional Hockey League in 2019-20 before finding his way with the Grande Prairie Storm as an assistant coach.
Makin says he’s learned so much since leaving Brooks both on the hockey side but also as a person. He’s learned to appreciate different styles of doing things. He says when he moved to Atlantic Canada to play hockey with the Axmen, he says that was a major change from having lived in Western Canada his whole life,
Makin had been in Grand Prairie with the Storm but when a new coach and general manager were hired recently, Makin found himself looking for other opportunities.
“I was open to other spots so I was talking to Ryan (Papaioannou) for some more advice on my coaching future,” explains Makin. He says that Papaioannou told him there were positions going to be open for an assistant coach in Brooks. “The more we talked about it, the more it seemed like a great fit. My time in Brooks was unbelievable. The team was great, the fans were great. Loved it. Such a great experience there and I learned a lot from Ryan as a player and I took a lot of that as I continued my hockey career…to go back as a coach, there’s nobody better on a junior level to learn from. Now I can see more in behind the scenes; I can’t wait.”
He says he can relate to Papaioannou in regards to the competitiveness and desire to win.
“He is so even keeled; it’s all about the players, it’s all about them. You can appreciate that. He wants you to succeed always, not just as players but off the ice as men too.”
Makin says he brings a lot of energy and a positive attitude to the arena and to the bench, much like he did as a coach.
In the release Papaioannou was please to have him on board and likes his teaching skills already.
“He’s detailed with video breakdowns and presentation along with viewing the game very similar to the way we have been playing for years. We’ve been working together on philosophy and implementing ideas for a couple weeks and our players will be really happy with the energy Taylor brings to the team. His responsibilities will be wide ranging with a focus on our defencemen and penalty kill. Through the interview process I was impressed with his maturation over the years and look forward to working him this season.”
Makin is excited for the challenge and promises to bring the work ethic, something he learned as a child growing up in southwest Alberta.
“I was born in Crowsnest Pass but moved to Lethbridge when I was 16,” explains Makin who says he has plans to go visit in the summer sometime. “It was a great place to grow up and learn. You kinda had are reign of the town, visit friend and hang out. Played baseball and hockey and had a lot of great coaches while I was there.
“Like any of the small towns in the Pass, you learn about working hard and working with what you have.”