Zamec, Deschenes, Limbert Add Blue to Junior League
BRITISH COLUMBIA, Canada - Three Yalies are coaching hockey in the same division in the best junior B league in Canada, and they are working close to each other.
Two former Bulldog forwards and one goalie, each of whom earned championship rings at different times skating at the Whale, are currently working in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Matt Zamec '00 and Nick Deschenes '03 are with the Grand Forks Border Bruins, Kevin Limbert '12 coaches with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
The KIJHL, featuring players from 16 to 20 years old, is a developmental league that feeds the British Columbia Hockey League, which currently has three players on the Yale roster. According to the league's website, between 2000 and 2010, the BCHL had 69 players drafted by National Hockey League teams, while the league annually sends between 80 and 100 graduates on to NCAA and CIS scholarships.
Zamec has been the Bruins' vice president and assistant coach for six years. He convinced Deschenes to join him this year as head coach and general manager. Their team is the youngest in the league with 20 rookies, but two of the four wins this season have come against Beaver Valley.
"I'm here because of Matt and it's been a pleasure working with him and helping turn things around here in Grand Forks," said Deschenes, who went from Morinville, Alberta, to scoring 36 goals at Yale before playing in the AHL, ECHL and in Italy. "I think hockey is all about building relationships with your teammates, staff and fans. This is a prime example of how it pays dividends."
"It's been great reuniting with Nick after all these years and being able to pass on some of our experiences to these young men," said Zamec, a Calgary native who was a backup netminder in New Haven. "The way the players have developed and the team has progressed under Nick's leadership and guidance has been tremendous. The excitement in our small town is palpable and I'm looking forward to what's next."
Limbert, who graduated last May after helping the Bulldogs win ECAC and Ivy League titles, is an assistant coach for the Nitehawks while also working as a mechanical engineer in training for Amec Americas in the Mining and Metals Division.
"I'm definitely keeping quite busy," said Limbert, the Fruitvale, B.C., native who is tied for second place at Yale with 137 career games played.
"Part of what has made the experience so positive is head coach Terry Jones, who has been at the helm of the Nitehawks for 18 years," said Limbert. "He has been a hockey mentor of mine for at least 15 years. I am very fortunate to have him continue mentoring me now as a coach while also working with our defense coach, a former teammate of mine on the 2003 league championship Nitehawks."
filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director