The Selkirk Saints men’s hockey team didn’t need to look far to find the man they feel can lead the squad to a third straight British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) title.
The Saints have announced this week that Castlegar-raised Alex Evin is stepping from assistant coach to head coach for the upcoming 2014-15 BCIHL season. He will replace Jeff Dubois, who moved to the Creston Valley Thunder of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) earlier this summer.
A standout between the pipes when he played, Alex Evin has his eye set on success behind the bench of the Selkirk Saints men’s hockey team.
“I think it’s a good fit,” Evin says. “Having been part of the program for the last two years and two championships, I made a contribution to that overall success as an assistant coach. I think I can help keep the program going in the right direction. There’s an expectation to win and I love to win.”
Selkirk College Athletics & Recreation Coordinator Kim Verigin says the choice was obvious.
“Alex understands this team and understands this community,” says Verigin. “We’re excited to give him the opportunity to see what he can do calling the shots. He is young, enthusiastic and has the hockey knowledge that will enable our players to succeed both on and off the ice.”
Background Suited for Mentorship
Now 27, Evin grew up in Castlegar and was drawn to the position of goaltender at a young age.
“I was attracted to the equipment, that was pretty common for little kids,” Evin says with a chuckle. “But I like the fact that you are able to stay on the ice for the entire game, I hated changing and only playing a third of the game. I was pretty good at it as a young kid and it just kept going from there.”
Evin was a standout between the pipes while helping several Castlegar Minor Hockey Association rep teams take on the best in the province. With the likes of Clinton Pettapeice and Lindsay Walker adding offensive firepower, Evin helped backstop the Castlegar Bantam Rep team to a coveted BC Provincial Championship.
Drafted by the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen, Evin chose a more academic route in his hockey journey and joined the Powell River Kings of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) as a 16-year-old. Evin finished his junior hockey career with the Penticton Vees where he helped the squad win a BCHL title in 2008.
His play with Penticton that season earned him a scholarship at the prestigious Colgate University in New York State where he played four seasons of NCAA hockey at the highest level. Though he took a shot at the professional game after graduation in 2012, Evin decided to return to the Kootenays to start training the next generation.
Developing the Future
Evin started NL Goaltending shortly after his return to Castlegar, offering his services to teams and individuals.
“I have a soft spot for the goaltenders in the Kootenays,” says Evin. “When I grew up I never had any help, I was on my own and made it pretty far by being essentially self-taught in the position. As a goaltender you have to keep developing because the game changes really quick and I feel the goalies in this area were left behind for a long time.”
Evin was instrumental in helping Chris Hurry develop into the top goaltender in the BCIHL last season. Based on his play and helping the Saints repeat as champions, Hurry will head to the University of Waterloo next season to suit up in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) league.
Early in the 2012-13 BCHL season, Dubois asked Evin to the join the Saints staff as an assistant coach. Focusing on the goaltenders, Evin left his mark by helping develop both Alex Sirard who was instrumental in Selkirk’s first championship in 2013 and Chris Hurry who backstopped the Saints to this past season’s ultimate glory.
A Deeper Understanding
Graduating with a degree in English from Colgate University, Evin knows the rigours of a student athlete. His background is one of the assets the team knows will translate into a stronger program.
“It was a pretty tough school when it came to academics, at Colgate you were always a student first and athlete second,” he says. “That’s how I am going to approach things at Selkirk because it puts things in perspective for you. Not everybody is going to play at the National Hockey League level and make a living in this game. To be fortunate enough to get to keep playing hockey at a competitive level is awesome, but the players need to ensure they are taking care of their academics first.”
On the ice and behind the bench, Evin plans to apply his knowledge and coaching technique in developing the Saints’ players.
Evin plans to continue with the philosophy of tenacity that has garnered the Saints two straight BCIHL titles.
“I’ve always been a student of the game and I really study the game, I’m a bit of a geek that way,” he says. “That’s just what I enjoy doing and who I am, so that seems to mesh well with coaching. And I can’t think of a better job.”
The core philosophy Evin helped foster under Dubois will continue and he expects this year’s club to be as tenacious as ever.
“We want to be a team that is always moving their feet and set the pace the play,” says Evin. “We pride ourselves on outworking each opponent every night and we won’t be a team that beats themselves in terms of not showing up. In the last two years some of the games we have won have been because we simply outwork the opponents and then you eventually get that bounce.”
The Selkirk College Saints will begin defence of their BCIHL title in September.