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Niverville Junior Team Hires Its First Bench Boss

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Kelvin Cech Crop2
Kelvin Cech, the new head coach and general manager of Niverville's Junior A hockey team. Kevin Lansard

The Niverville Junior A Hockey Club has found its head coach and general manager. The decision was made last month to hire Kelvin Cech, a highly experienced Junior hockey coach.

Cech is a familiar face around the MJHL, having previously been head coach of the Winkler Flyers during the 2019–2020 season.

“It was awesome to come in and learn the league here,” Cech says. “Unfortunately due to COVID, I wasn’t able to fully finish a season. But it was phenomenal to get around and meet the different personalities in the MJHL. I love this league, and I love how each team competes hard every single night. It truly is a league where anyone can beat anyone on any given night.”

For his year in Winkler, he was named Coach of the Year by the MJHL.

In 2020, Cech was selected to serve as the coach of the MJHL’s U18 team at the SJHL-MJHL Showcase in Regina. The event is an opportunity for the best Junior players from Manitoba and Saskatchewan to compete head to head, with 60 players attending from each league.

Cech grew up in Edmonton, where he remained until 2012 when he moved to Vancouver. There, he served as the assistant coach of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds for three seasons.

He will now complete the current season at the West Vancouver Hockey Academy before assuming the full-time role in Niverville on April 1, 2022.

“We are excited to have Kelvin on board to head up the hockey operations side of our team,” says Clarence Braun, spokesperson for the Niverville Junior A Hockey Club board of directors. “We look forward with great anticipation to the opening of the 2022–2023 season in September.”

Braun adds that originally the board was looking at hiring two different people to fill the head coach and general manager roles. However, after meeting Cech they knew they had found the right man for both jobs.

Cech says the interview process was thorough, lasted a few months, and ended with him getting a call from Kevin Lansard, a member of the Niverville’s team board of directors.

“It wasn’t a surprise, as I thought the process was going pretty well,” Cech says. “It built up to a point where, after my final presentation, Kevin called and let me know that a contract offer was coming. It was a whirlwind, and very exciting.”

Upon being given the good news, Cech flew to Manitoba and spent a few days in Niverville, familiarizing himself with the town and taking a tour of the CRRC, the club’s new home.

“My initial thoughts when I first walked in is that it’s a beautiful state-of-the-art facility,” he says. “For a Junior A arena, it’s the perfect size. It’s going to be a really exciting atmosphere for the town, a great place to bring the family to watch hockey. I’ve been around the MJHL before, and to me this is as good as it gets.”

Cech is particularly excited to be working with this team’s ownership group, who he says have demonstrated a great attention to detail.

“For example, we spent 15 minutes on the bench, talking about whether the bench needs to get raised up or not,” he remarks. “For me being vertically challenged, I really appreciated that! Details like these are representative of the care that the ownership group, the town, and community have put into this brand-new building.”

Since the announcement earlier this year that an MJHL franchise was coming here, anticipation has been building in Niverville and the surrounding area. Cech is excited to see this momentum, and to see the community come out and support the franchise when they first hit the ice next fall.

Of course, one of the first orders of business will be recruiting players.

“I would say that our team is being built on character and competitiveness,” he says. “This is how we’re going to go about the recruiting process. We are looking for those men who have good character, who will be good teammates on and off the ice.”

He is confident that Niverville can build a competitive team right out of the starting gate.

“It’s going to be an upbeat group of young men who want to compete every night,” Cech says. “The people behind the scenes who are putting the product on the ice, to me this is the right way to build. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, you’re going to be welcome here. We want you to come and enjoy this experience with us. There’s going to be some ups and downs, as this is a new team, but it’s going to be fun at the rink each and every night, I can guarantee that.”

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