By: Ty Dilello – The Niverville Citizen
The Nighthawks are on the cusp of their home-opener, and it’s time to meet the coaching staff. The staff has been steadily assembled over the last couple of months by head coach Kelvin Cech. This elite team is hard at work to ensure that the players in Niverville have every opportunity to excel in the MJHL this season and beyond.
Kelvin Cech, Head Coach and General Manager
Kelvin Cech was born and raised in Sherwood Park, Alberta. He played hockey in Sherwood Park and Strathcona County as a kid and moved into coaching after college because someone told him he was a better coach than a player.
After serving as a head coach and assistant coach for some U15 and U18 teams in the Vancouver area, Cech went on to become an assistant coach of the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds for three seasons. He later came to Manitoba and was named the head coach of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers for the 2019–20 season.
“It was awesome to come in and learn the league here. 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.
Now joining the Niverville Nighthawks as the franchise’s first head coach and general manager, Cech has assembled a group of upbeat young men who want to compete every night.
“Our team is being built on character and competitiveness. This is how we’ve gone about the recruiting process. We have looked for those men who have good character, who will be good teammates on and off the ice. It’s important to me because I believe we can search for success in a non-traditional way.”
Mike McAulay, Assistant GM and Director of Scouting
Mike McAulay was born in Winnipeg and currently resides in La Salle. He counts his minor hockey days as some of his most cherished, particularly a provincial championship in Stonewall, three Zone Four championships in Carman, and a silver medal in the Western Canadian Championships with the St. Malo Warriors under legendary coach Ralph Collette.
His playing career wrapped up at the University of Minnesota-Crookston, where he considers his career to have come full circle after winning an MCHA championship.
With his scouting team, McAulay was successful in recruiting players to the MJHL who have gone on to make impressive contributions in their Junior days and beyond.
“I spent three seasons with the Winkler Flyers as their assistant general manager and head scout working alongside a good friend and mentor Jeff Jeanson, who gave me my start in administration and scouting at the Junior A level. It was in Winkler where I also had the chance to work with Coach Cech, so the transition to the Nighthawks has been relatively seamless. It’s a privilege to have an opportunity to be a part of something this special.”
McAulay knows how important it is to express gratitude to the team off the ice responsible for making Junior A hockey in Niverville a reality.
“It all starts with Clarence Braun, the board of directors, and their adoration for the community of Niverville as well as their big picture vision. It became apparent early in the process that they were committed to building a successful MJHL program in Niverville and I’m proud and honoured to be a part of it. We’re surrounded with outstanding people in all facets of the organization who share that vision and have been working tirelessly to bring it all together.”
Tyler Anderson, Assistant Coach
Tyler Anderson was born and raised in Niverville. The chance to contribute to the new team and his community is one he’s not taking for granted.
Anderson played for the Eastman Selects when he was growing up and now he gets to help usher in the next wave of young players moving into their junior hockey years.
“I’m looking forward to grow the player development side of the game, especially in young defencemen.”
A defenceman himself, Anderson graduated from Eastman and moved on to Junior A with stops in the SJHL with the Kindersley Klippers and the BCHL with the Prince George Spruce Kings and West Kelowna Warriors, a team with which he won a national championship.
Following Junior hockey, Anderson attended a Washington Capitals development camp before embarking on a Division 1 college career with the Superior State Lakers, a team that won the GLI Cup.
“It is awesome to finally have a team here in Niverville. As a local, it’s something I wish we would have had back in my Junior days. I think it will bring the community together and it will be a fun night out on the town for local families. It’s especially important for the younger kids to see this quality of hockey and look up to it. Billets will have a player move in, who will turn into an older brother for the young kids living in the house, and you’ll have a friend for life. This will help put Niverville on the map.”
Ethan Maertens-Poole, Assistant Coach
Ethan Maertens-Poole was born in Peace River, Alberta. However, he grew up all over the place, including a 14-month stint in Bangladesh as a kid.
Maertens-Poole has been coaching elite stream hockey for the past six years. In 2019–20, he was the youngest U16AAA head coach in Alberta.
“Last season coaching in the KIJHL with the Golden Rockets. To secure my first win as the acting head coach, we came back from being down 5–2 with seven minutes left in the game to win 6–5 in a shootout. The most amazing part was seeing the group pull together and play for each other, putting everything on the line for the person next to them. We gained a lot of confidence from that moment so I was a very proud coach.”
He says there were three big things that made it so easy to decide to join the Nighthawks.
“Number one, how welcoming the group is from the ownership group down to coaches, to community members. Everyone is rowing in the same direction and are people-first individuals. Number two, the direction Kelvin and co. have started to implement is one that resonates with me. Number three, it’s an amazing opportunity to learn and grow and continue to push for my goal of being a career coach. I am thrilled to get going!”
Kayden Jarvis, Skills Coach
Kayden Jarvis was born and raised in Winnipeg. He grew up playing minor hockey in the Assiniboine Park Minor Hockey Association (APHA) and later played three seasons with the St. Paul’s Crusaders in the Winnipeg High School Hockey League (WHSHL). In his final year at St. Paul’s, his school won both the City and Provincial Championship.
Jarvis then played two seasons with the Winkler Flyers (MJHL) and was named assistant captain in his second season.
Jarvis currently works with the RINK Training Academy as their Retention and Recruitment Lead, and he just recently become a Hockey Canada-certified skills coach.
Kayden’s younger brother is Seth Jarvis, an NHL centreman with the Carolina Hurricanes.
“Once I heard Niverville was getting an MJHL team, and I got to know some of the people involved with the team, I was very excited to get the opportunity to work with and learn from them. As a first-year team, we get to make our mark on the organization and set the foundation for years to come. I was lucky enough to play in this league a couple of years ago and can hopefully relate to what the players are going through and what it takes to be successful. I am excited to see the players and the team develop this year, and hopefully for years to come. I can’t wait for the start of the season.”
Crystal Stott, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach
Crystal Stott was born and raised in Niverville. She has always loved the game of hockey and has been a fan since she was a kid. She has enjoyed watching her daughters play the sport as well throughout the years.
Stott’s favourite hockey moment was attending the 2005 World Juniors bronze and gold medal games.
The Nighthawks hired Crystal Stott to be the team’s head strength and conditioning coach in the spring of 2022. Her hiring represented an official partnership between the team and ShopGym, the local facility that Stott owns.
ShopGym has a distinct college-like atmosphere, which is ideal for Junior A hockey as most players are looking to move on to college hockey in the future.
Stott has owned and operated ShopGym for 12 years and has trained numerous AA and AAA hockey teams. A certified functional strength and nutrition coach, she has a special focus on hormone health and nutrition for athletic performance.
“To be involved with a team from the ground up is a really big honour,” said Stott. “I am so excited to be able to contribute to the team’s and individual athletes’ success in their inaugural season and I can’t wait to get started.”
Tyler Oswald, Goaltending Coach
Tyler Oswald was born and raised in Sanford. He grew up playing minor hockey in the MacDonald hockey system. He played U18AAA as a goaltender for the Pembina Valley Hawks before playing Junior hockey with the Winkler Flyers. His favourite hockey memory was winning the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey Championship with Pembina Valley.
Oswald has been coaching ever since he stopped playing around ten years ago. He coached for GDI in Winnipeg for four years before moving to Calgary to pursue a degree in Sports and Recreation Management.
“While in Calgary, I worked for GDI as well as being an assistant/goalie coach for the Calgary Northstars U18AAA team for three years. After completing my schooling, I moved back to Winnipeg to rejoin RINK Goalie Development, formerly known as GDI.”
Oswald has been at the RINK for over three years now and has been coaching the RHA U18 prep team as the goalie coach. He has also worked with the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues in 2019–20 as their goalie coach.
“I’m really looking forward to being involved in the inaugural season for the Niverville Nighthawks. Being part of a team in the MJHL is an exciting opportunity for myself. It’s even more of an exciting challenge to be part of growing a brand-new team and culture.”
Rob Pambrun, Player Development and Sports Science Coach
Rob Pambrun was born and raised in Winnipeg. He played AAA hockey for the Winnipeg Warriors and the U18 Winnipeg Wild.
From there, he moved on to playing Junior hockey in the MJHL for the Portage Terriers, the Southeast Blades (now called the Steinbach Pistons), and the Winnipeg Saints (now called the Virden Oil Capitals).
“One of my main goals as a player was to play Junior hockey at a young age. When I managed to crack the line-up as a teenager, I was extremely proud, and this was hands down my favourite moment in hockey.”
Due to an unforeseen knee injury, Pambrun’s hockey career was cut short.
Since then, he has become a fitness professional—a performance and physique specialist, to be exact—and he currently owns a global fitness consulting corporation named Team Prep Starz.
“The knowledge and skills I’ve gained in the fitness industry have allowed me to find my way back into the hockey world. The Nighthawks organization values the knowledge and experience that I bring to the table, and I’m extremely excited for this opportunity. As the player development and sports science coach, I’m looking forward to working with all the players and becoming a member of the community.”