Nighthawks relieve Kelvin Cech of his responsibilities

On February 12, the Niverville Nighthawks announced that they had relieved Kelvin Cech of his responsibilities as Coach and General Manger of  the team.

Ty Dilello

“We want to thank Kelvin for his significant role in developing and building the MJHL’s newest franchise,” read a press release from the organization. “We wish you all the best, Kelvin.”

The move to relieve Cech appears to have been a big surprise for most in the organization on Tuesday morning.

“Shocking is a good word for it,” says Cech. “I really can’t believe it and I have no idea why it happened really. They’re pretty resistant to giving me a solid reason. There’s lots going on behind the scenes, I guess.”

Niverville had been in a deep slide as of late, with the team holding a 3–7–1 record since January 1. They are only six points ahead of the Selkirk Steelers for the final playoff spot in the MJHL’s East Division.

This may have played a factor in the move to replace Cech.

On Wednesday morning, the Nighthawks’ chair of the board of directors, Clarence Braun, provided some much-needed reasoning for Cech’s departure.

“Upon the recommendation of hockey operations, we made the decision to relieve our head coach/general manager,” says Braun. “The trend within the past three weeks was not good. We had a difficult post-Christmas last year, but we were at the least competitive. This year we were getting blown out and that was unacceptable. It’s all about players competing and not necessarily winning. We were not competing.”

Braun says that the decision was a very challenging one, especially in light of the fact that deep personal relationships had been established over time.

“We all have to own this,” says Braun. “The coach paid the price at this time, but the entire team, including the players, have to own their responsibility to bring their best game every night.”

At the same time as the firing, the Nighthawks also announced that Mike McAulay has accepted the interim role of general manager. Furthermore, the organization has hired Dwight Hirst as the interim coach for the remainder of the 2023–24 season.

The 44-year-old Hirst is a former senior hockey player for the Lac du Bonnet Blues of the MEHL. He has served as the head coach of the Eastman Selects U18 AAA team for the past four seasons and will be looking forward to getting his feet wet coaching at the MJHL level.

“The new coach brings in a fresh perspective,” says Braun. “We all understand that this is a team game and a collaborative effort.”