AAA Winnipeg has proven to be a place where players, coaches and families come together to share the game of hockey. Not only does it prepare players for the next level it provides a place to grow as a person. AAA Winnipeg reached out to John Fehr of the Bantam 1 Winnipeg Monarchs to share his insight on what it means to be a coach and also to discuss a player on his team, Michael Cicek, who has been a leader, an all star, and looks to take the next step in hockey.
Thank you John and Michael for contributing to this article.
1. This year you have a very competitive team, maybe the best in Bantam in Winnipeg, how does it compare to last year’s team which had three WHL prospects?
This year’s team is vastly different than last year’s team as this year’s team is a more balanced group. We have more depth this year and on any given night we could see solid defensive and offensive play from all of our players. Yes; we still have a few leaders such as Michael Cicek that are a little more consistent than others but as a leader offensively and defensively he gets more out of his supporting cast than our top guys did last season. This season we are stronger in all areas of our roster.
2. How many years have you been coaching? What are the things you enjoy about it and is there anything that challenges you the most?
I’ve been coaching minor hockey for 22 years and this is my 12th season as a head coach in AAA. Out of the 12 years I have been to the finals 9 times. The greatest joy from coaching for me is being around the players. Some nights it’s tough getting to another practice but when you get to the rink you just feed off of the energy from the players. The players love being at the rink with their teammates and buddies and you feed off of that. You become a family as the season evolves.
My motivation is simply because I don’t want to let anyone down. Not the players, not my staff, and not the parents.
3. Michael Cicek is a player on your team how do you describe him as a player? What do you believe are his strengths (and weaknesses)
Michael Cicek is first and foremost a very descent and respectful individual. He has great integrity which comes from a very solid upbringing. Much like his older brother Nick who I coached in AAA in the 2014 – 2015 season and who now plays with the Western Hockey league Portland Winterhawks; Michael is a player that wants to do right on and off the ice.
Michael leads by example. As a power forward he leads our team in plus minus, goals, and points. Michael’s puck handling skills and shot stand out when you watch him play. He sees the ice very well and anticipates the play of the game.
As any player at his age he still needs to hone his skills and his foot speed.
Being a consistent player is a skill all younger players need to develop.
4. What do you believe are the tendencies needed by players to play at the next level (ie. WHL) what are certain elements you believe are the most common and which are important for players to work on?
Today’s game is faster than it’s ever been. I’ve noticed the difference in the 12 years of coaching AAA. So, it goes without saying that players need to continue to work on their skills. Not only do the players skate faster but the puck moves faster and the players can shoot better. Skill development is first and foremost but now it all has to be done at a faster pace. In order for players to move up to the next level they have to show continuous improvement and be a great team player. Again, a player with great ethics and being a good person will get them further than one that doesn’t have those characteristics.
Scouts that are watching these players all season know what they are like on the ice and where they stand in terms of their skill level so general one of the first questions they ask is what his character is like. Is he a good person and what does he do away from the rink in order to make himself better.
The player that works hard at his skills away from the rink and limits his time in front of the TV will usually get himself further in hockey if that is where his heart is.