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
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
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
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
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.