It’s a new year, and the Nighthawks are back in action this week. After a productive preseason and busy training camp, the team is ready to launch a whole new campaign, once again under the watchful eye of head coach and general manager Kelvin Cech.
The season takes off this Friday, September 22 with the home opener versus the Selkirk Steelers at 7:00 p.m. at the CRRC.
Let’s get to meet the players! In this article, we’ll start with the first batch of forwards.
Kyle Bochek was born in Regina, Saskatchewan but grew up in Moosomin, a small town near the Saskatchewan-Manitoba border. He started playing quite early, getting into the game when he was just four years old.
“A couple of my favourite hockey moments would be winning the Telus Cup and back-to-back provincial titles in midget hockey,” says Bochek of his most memorable recollections. “Playing in the WHL for a couple years was cool too.”
Bochek will be coming to the Nighthawks with a wealth of experience, as he has spent the past few seasons playing in the Western Hockey League with the likes of the Vancouver Giants.
Last year he distinguished himself, scoring four points in 48 games as a shutdown forward.
“I’m really excited to be part of the Nighthawks this year. I can’t wait to get started.”
Merik Boles was born and raised nearby in the town of Lorette. He started skating when he was just two years old and then began playing the game of hockey at the age of four.
An original Nighthawks forward, Boles made his mark on the club last season, scoring seven points in 45 games.
Boles’s favourite hockey memories to date would have to include playing in the Brick Tournament, getting his first MJHL goal, and making the playoffs with the Nighthawks in their first year as a franchise.
“I am a local Eastman player, so I was honoured to play for the Nighthawks in their inaugural season,” says Boles of the town he has helped represent. “Niverville is a great community, and I can’t wait to see what happens in season two.”
Nathan Brown was born in Regina, Saskatchewan but raised in Winnipeg. His dad got him into hockey after his older brother started playing.
“My dad played hockey for his whole life,” says Brown. “He then started coaching and kind of became my own hockey coach when I was growing up.”
A signed college recruit of the St. Cloud State Huskies, Brown represented Team Manitoba at the WHL Cup in 2021 and has spent the past two seasons playing U18 hockey for the Winnipeg Bruins.
“I’m super excited to join the Nighthawks this year after being around a bit last year,” he says. “Seeing the culture and just the way everything is done with a purpose here is nice to see and finally be a part of. Niverville being close to home is also a nice touch.”
Michael Debrito hails from Fergus Falls, Minnesota. His dad got him into hockey when he was about four years old.
Although he hated it at first, Debrito soon grew to love the sport.
“My favourite hockey memory is winning the conference championship with my high school team during my junior year,” says Debrito.
Last season, he got in some NAHL games with the Kenai River Brown Bears before coming to Niverville this year.
“I’m super excited to get going, as I’ve heard nothing but good things from guys who played here last season,” he says, noting the team’s great reputation. “Joining the Nighthawks organization was important to me because I truly believe that the coaching staff can help me take my game to the next level.”
Matt Healey was born and raised in Warman, Saskatchewan.
“My dad put me on skates when I was three years old,” he recalls. “I never ended up taking them off!”
Healey’s favourite hockey memory is bussing down to Penticton, British Columbia for the playoffs last season.
After playing with the Edge School U18 prep team, he is excited about getting down to Niverville and having his first Junior A hockey experience.
“Joining the Nighthawks organization is exciting to me because of how well they treat all the players,” Healey says. “I’m super pumped to get the season started and to bond with the team.”
Mighton Johnson was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. He got into hockey because of his great-grandfather, who also played the sport.
Johnson’s favourite memory from his hockey years was playing in the Quebec Peewee International Tournament.
Johnson spent last season split between the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins and the CCHL’s Renfrew Wolves. He combined for four points in 42 games.
After getting good reviews from his older brother Desmond, who was a member of the inaugural Nighthawks squad, Johnson is excited to get to Niverville and play for the team himself.
“Joining the Nighthawks is an opportunity for me because my brother enjoyed his time here,” says Johnson. “I’m just excited to get going. They had a good first year and we will look to continue the team’s success this year as well.”
Ty Kennett was born in Crookston, Minnesota but later in life he grew up and was raised in the nearby town of Red Lake Falls. Kennett’s dad got him into hockey when he was really little.
He then went on to play for the local team in Red Lake Falls, where he stayed all the way up until his graduation from high school.
Kennett’s best hockey memory was making the Minnesota state tournament in Peewee.
He was an original member of the Nighthawks and scored 28 points in 51 games last season.
“The coaching staff really welcomed me and really seemed to care about my hockey future,” says Kennett of his first year in Niverville. “I am very excited to get things started again, as it should be a fun year!”
Ty Dilello – Niverville Citizen