The MJHL mourns the passing of a loyal friend: long-time coach Wayne Chernecki.
Wayne passed away recently after a long battle with cancer. Wayne and his St. James Canadians won back-to-back championships in the late 90s. His teams were known for speed, skill and when needed -- toughness.
“Wayne was very well respected,” said Winnipeg Blues’ Head Coach/GM Don MacGillivray. “He always had disciplined hockey clubs, which played a very structured game.”
“Wayne had a great eye for talent which suited the needs of his hockey club. He was a very astute hockey man.”
MacGillivray was on the Neepawa Natives bench when Chernecki and his Canadians won their first championship. The second championship came against OCN Blizzard at Gordon Lathlin Memorial Arena.
Chernecki sometimes joked that the Canadians should have lost at The Pas to bring Game 7 home to the Civic Centre where a large home gate would have helped the finances. In addition to his success at the junior level, Wayne was a highly successful coach at the AAA level.
“Wayne knew what it took to win,” said MacGilivray. “His teams always competed hard.”
Wayne was a proud north ender and played junior with the West Kildonan North Stars before graduating to the Winnipeg Jr. Jets. Known as a skilled, offensive player, Wayne was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings. The majority of his career was spent in the American Hockey League. He was also a successful senior player, suiting up for the St. Boniface Mohawks.
Wayne began his junior coaching career with West Kildonan North Stars.
Off the ice, Wayne was a great conversationalist, often recalling humorous moments from his hockey career.
Bruce Schmidt, long-time coach of the St. Boniface/Winnipeg Saints, remembered Chernecki and his Canadians for their competitiveness.
“Wayne had obviously learned quite a bit when he played pro, and he passed on that knowledge to his teams and players,” said Schmidt. “I remember his teams as being fast and very skilled. But, he also had a mix of players who brought the toughness part of the game.”
Wayne is survived by his loving wife and best friend Marilyn, his son Christopher (Alana), daughter Kerrie, father Peter, and his granddaughters Anna, Emily, Tyler and Jayne. Wayne is predeceased by his daughter Jamie, brother Norman and mother Emily. A celebration of Wayne's life will be held at Cropo Funeral Chapel, 1442 Main St. on Sunday, February 17 at 10:30 a.m.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)