Ty Dilello – Niverville Citizen
Last week, Niverville Nighthawks head coach and general manager Kelvin Cech was announced by Hockey Canada as one of eight Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) coaches who have been selected to lead Team Canada East and Team Canada West at the 2023 World Junior A Hockey Challenge in Truro, Nova Scotia this December.
Cech will join Team Canada West as an assistant coach, making his international coaching debut.
“The coaches selected to lead Team Canada East and Team Canada West are an excellent representation of the level of talent within the coaching ranks of Junior A hockey in Canada,” says Andy Harkness, president of the CJHL. “All eight of these individuals bring a wealth of coaching and playing experience both internationally and in Canada.”
Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of hockey operations with Hockey Canada, is similarly enthusiastic about the event.
“We are excited about the quality of coaches that will lead two teams of highly skilled players from across the country as they compete for a gold medal,” says Salmond. “We look forward to showcasing the talent from across the CJHL, and we know fans in Truro and across Nova Scotia will be treated to an exciting week of hockey.”
The 2023 World Junior A Hockey Challenge represents a partnership between Hockey Canada, the CJHL, NHL Central Scouting, and Hockey Nova Scotia. The international showcase features two Canadian teams along with Slovakia, Sweden, and the United States.
Cech was thrilled when he got the call.
“I applied in the summer and was shortlisted and went through a couple of interviews,” Cech says. “It’s an in-depth process, and I was grilled pretty good. But I was fortunate to get the job. To go in as an assistant coach, with some other really smart hockey people on the coaching staff, I’m very excited for the opportunity.”
It’s certainly a feather in the cap for the Nighthawks organization that the club’s head coach has not only found his way onto Hockey Canada’s radar but earned a job coaching Canada at an international event in the process.
“Taking a step back from my day job, these are the kind of events that coaches work towards to get these opportunities,” he says. “It’s something I wanted to experience at this point in my career. And if it leads to other opportunities, then that’s cool. But for now, I’m 100 percent focused on the Nighthawks and bringing glory to Niverville.”
At the World Junior A Hockey Challenge, Cech will hopefully have some familiarity with some of the players on Team Canada West. The squad will likely include some MJHL players, including potentially one or two from his own Nighthawks team.
“There’s a large pool of players to select from out of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. There are guys from our Nighthawks team who are certainly on the radars of the coaching staff. Our job is to make the best possible team. And if one of our current players is fortunate to be one of those guys, then that would be awesome. It means the team will be strong.”