WINNIPEG, MB – Hockey Manitoba is proud to announce the selected coaches for the 2016 U-16 and U-18 Program of Excellence (POE). Each staff will lead their respective program through the team selection process, team preparation process, and their respective championship events next fall. The U-16 Team Manitoba contingent will compete at the 2016 Western Canada U-16 Challenge Cup in Calgary, AB held October 19-23 with a roster featuring the province’s top male players born in 2001. In early November U-18 Team Manitoba will compete at the National Women’s U-18 Championship hosted by Hockey Canada, host site to be announced at a later date.
Leading U-16 Team Manitoba behind the bench will be Rob Smith (Steinbach) currently working as assistant coach with the Steinbach Pistons (MJHL). Smith has been named as an assistant coach twice for the U-16 POE (2013, 2014) and served again as a late replacement last season (2015) for a third time with the program. After helping U-16 Team Manitoba earn two bronze medals and a silver medal with his previous appointments Smith will bring his extensive knowledge to the forefront in 2016 as head coach. Smith is joined by Darren Webster (Swan River) of the Swan Valley Stampeders (MJHL) coaching staff, where he will serve in his second stint as assistant coach for U-16 Team Manitoba previously helping earn a silver medal in 2015. Dustin Hughes (Winnipeg) will join the U-16 POE for the first time as an assistant coach. Hughes served as head coach of Garden City Collegiate (WHSHL) this season and was recently appointed as associate coach of the Selkirk Steelers (MJHL). Overseeing the program as Director of Operations will again be Kyle Prystupa (Hockey Manitoba) heading the role since 2011.
U-18 Team Manitoba will be lead by head coach Jeff Sveinson (Winnipeg) who returns after spending last season as an assistant coach with the U-18 team that earned a silver medal at the National Women’s U-18 Championship in Huntsville, ON. Sveinson is a two time assistant coach in the U-18 POE (2011, 2015) having won medals both occasions, he is currently head coach of the Winnipeg Monarchs (Bantam1 AAA) who recently captured the 2016 Winnipeg AAA league title. Jeff will be joined by assistant coaches Sarah Zacharias (Winnipeg) and Chris McColm (Oakbank). Zacharias is an assistant coach with the Balmoral Hall Blazers (Prep) and she returns to the U-18 program after a successful run as an assistant coach with last year’s silver medal team. McColm heads the Rural Female Provincial champion Eastman Selects (Bantam AAA) and will be making his first appearance on the U-18 coaching staff after having served as the video coordinator for U-18 Team Manitoba in 2015. Director of Operations for the U-18 POE will be Dustin Stewart (Hockey Manitoba) for his second time who previously served as video coordinator at the 2015 Canada Winter Games for both U-16 & U-18 Team Manitoba.
The Program of Excellence process will begin early April in Winnipeg with the POE Spring Camp seeing 102 players invited in their respective categories. The U-16 POE Spring Camp will be held April 7-10 at MTS Iceplex and Seven Oaks Sportsplex, meanwhile the U-18 POE Spring Camp will run April 8-10 at Gateway Rec Centre and Southdale Community Centre. Following the POE Spring Tournament, approximately forty players from each program will be invited to the POE TOP-40 Camp held May 12-15 in Portage la Prairie.
For more information about the Hockey Manitoba Program of Excellence please visit hockeymanitoba.ca/poe. Hockey Manitoba is pleased to recognize Canad Inns, CCM Hockey, and the Western Hockey League as Official Partners of the Program of Excellence, along with Gatorade as the Official Sport Drink of Hockey Manitoba.