The Niverville Nighthawks have gotten a lot of attention from the community since making it to playoffs.
Coach Kelvin Cech says it’s been a huge rallying point for the entire community.
“Everyone's excited and (we have) gotten a lot of messages and the guys have gotten a lot of attention and congratulations and whatnot.”
A year ago, the Nighthawks set a goal that they wanted to be competitive. He says it feels good to have reached that goal.
“We've had a strong season, so to have that playoff spot confirmed feels awesome.”
He says the community of Niverville has shown how proud they are of the team to have made playoffs in their inaugural season.
“It's an incredibly proud community here. It's a diverse community of people from all over the place who do different things on a day-to-day basis, but the one thing that's consistent is that it's something that they can be proud of,” he says. “That they have a team right in their backyard that's competing for a national championship.”
Cech says the community has invested a lot into the team, and the team has really shown up to play.
“It has taken so long for them to get the team here, and now that it's here and now they know that the team is respectable, they can brag to their friends about it.”
The Nighthawks started the season as underdogs, but shook that label off throughout the season as they became a difficult team to beat.
Cech says the Niverville Nighthawks wasn’t the first choice of team for most of their players.
“Which makes sense because no one knew that that Niverville existed a year ago, all these guys (are) from Alberta and B.C. and Saskatchewan.”
He says that now that they’re here, they’re here to play.
“We've come together and we're a team that's more than the sum of our parts. That's who we are off the ice and that's who we're hoping we're going to be on the ice too.”
Cech notes that now switching from regular season to playoffs mode, he wants to focus his coaching more on the smaller details.
“You're going to hunker down in the office here and go through every single detail, and whether or not you use every detail is a different story,” he says. “Things can change after the first period of game one, depending on what the opponent does.”
He says although it’s great to dig deeper, it’s always important to focus on your own game first.
“We prepare for every team the same throughout this season. Everybody says it's mostly about us and how we play and how we manage the puck.”
Moving into playoffs, he says they need to confirm what they need to do to win games.
“These next three games, we really just need to establish in ourselves the type of game we need to play to be successful. The fortunate thing is we've seen it for stretches.”
He looks back to the weekend where they played against Swan and OCN and the results didn’t go their way.
"But the second period in Swan Valley, we played exactly the way we needed to play and we combined simple hockey with our skill and it really worked for us.”
With files from Dave Anthony