2022 bhm heo ncwana e

Home is where the hockey is

Llew Ncwana has had hockey experiences that have taken him across North America, but his story always has him coming back to his Ottawa roots

Hailey Perreault
February 1, 2022

Llew Ncwana’s father, Ezra, immigrated to Canada from South Africa in 1959. He attended Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Saskatchewan. Having never seen hockey before, Ezra was exposed to it quickly in Wilcox – the Notre Dame program is one of the most prestigious hockey programs in the world.

Upon completing his undergrad, Ezra settled in Ottawa where he married and started a family. Ncwana grew up in the Beacon Hill neighbourhood, where his love for hockey started on the street. After years spent playing minor hockey with the Gloucester Rangers, Ncwana made the difficult decision to leave home in 1984, following his father’s path and attending Notre Dame.

Ncwana enjoyed tremendous success while playing hockey for the Notre Dame Hounds. In 1987, his team represented the West Region in the Air Canada Cup (now known as the TELUS Cup, Canada’s National U18 Club Championship). The tournament was held in, of all places, Gloucester, at the Earl Armstrong Arena. He was able to billet at home for the tournament as the Hounds won a silver medal

Ncwana graduated to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League the following season, helping the Hounds to another successful season and another trip to a national championship, once again held in the Ottawa area. This time, Notre Dame finished on top, claiming the Centennial Cup as national Junior A champions in Pembroke, Ontario.

After a successful junior hockey career, Ncwana attended Bowling Green State University beginning in the fall of 1988, majoring in sport management. He spent four years playing for the Falcons under head coach Jerry York, who is the winningest coach in NCAA hockey history with 1,108 victories. He called a number of future NHLers teammates, skating alongside the likes of Rob Blake, Nelson Emerson, Greg de Vries and Dan Bylsma, to name a few.

After graduating from Bowling Green, Ncwana turned pro and attended the very first Ottawa Senators training camp in 1992. He spent part of the 1992-93 season with the Fargo-Moorhead Express in the short-lived American Hockey Association, and played two games with Hampton Roads in the ECHL before joining the Thunder Bay Thunder Hawks (renamed the Senators in 1993).

He ended up winning a pair of Colonial Hockey League championships in 1994 and 1995 before hanging up his skates in 1996 and returning home to Ottawa, setting in the same Beacon Hill neighbourhood he grew up in.

Today, Ncwana coaches in the Gloucester Cougars and Gloucester Rangers associations, giving back to the hockey community that has given him so much. He also owns the Titan Performance Centre in the Richcraft Sensplex, where he trains local kids and adults looking to get active.

Ncwana emphasizes the importance of hockey and team sports when it comes to developing not only as an athlete, but as a person.

“I've learned the pursuit of team goals gives you selflessness and teaches you the spirit of cooperation like nothing else I can think of,” he says. “This translates into being a better partner, parent, co-worker and neighbour.”

Ncwana encourages kids to get involved in hockey exactly how he did, by playing the game for fun. “Learn to play road hockey and on the ODR. Fall in love with the game and play it with friends. Watch the game and try to emulate your hockey heroes. Push yourself if you want to get better but don't take it so seriously that you fall out of love with it. It's a game for everyone to enjoy.”

He also encourages communities to support their junior hockey teams, starting with the kids. “Organizing youth to attend local junior hockey games is a great way for kids to see and start to love hockey. The junior players often live and go to school in the same communities as these kids, so having access to them might foster a love for the game and get them thinking it could be them one day.”

After a career that saw Ncwana accomplish many goals as a player, he’s happy to be back in the capital region, coaching the next generation of hockey players in Gloucester.

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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