Neepawa Natives - What does the Neepawa Natives Junior “A” Hockey Club stand for?


What does the team mean for the community, players and alumni?

The following is a message from Robby Moar, our Director of Marketing and Assistant Coach. He is a proud alumni and it’s with good reason. Let Robby’s words tell you one part of the Neepawa Natives’ story and history

“Junior hockey is a very unique aspect of the sport as it allows teenagers to be apart of a team, grow as a person and forge their own path into education or the workforce. For me, junior hockey was a dream come true and the Portage Terriers, Swan Valley Stampeders and especially the Neepawa Natives are the ones to thank for giving me the opportunity I was so thankful to receive. Not only did Neepawa take me in and house me for three years but they also got me to the next level. Following my time in Neepawa, I was able to go to Minot State University and play for an outstanding hockey team as well as make best friends for life. When I think about mentors in the sport and people I look up to it’s an extremely large list.

First off, my parents for always believing in me and giving me all the tools I needed to succeed. Some others would be Myles Cathcart, Blake Spiller, Wade Regier, Ken Brooks, Arron Asham and Dwayne Kirkup just to name a few. Without all of these people, I would not have obtained the love for the game that I have today. Now, however, it’s time to look to the future and it’s an extremely exciting opportunity to coach all of these young men who will be calling Neepawa home. I look forward to watching our players grow and mature as well as working with them to achieve the goals that they have placed upon themselves.”


What is the Economic impact for the area?

The Neepawa Natives regularly monitors the economic impact the team has on the local economy. For example, based on the 90 families attending 2018 the spring camp there was a direct $35,000 impact on the community in the 3-day weekend. Families spent $4,637 on fuel, $7,450 on lodging, $9,552 in restaurants, an estimated $1,900 at the Yellowhead canteen, $3,909 at other businesses and $3,473 on groceries.

In addition, the amount brought in to the team by way of fees and miscellaneous purchases came to another $10,000. A number of families said they stayed with friends or family while in town, therefore a person could suggest the house in which they stayed purchased food items for their guests in addition to the reported purchases.

During the hockey season, the team spends over $60,000 on billeting costs as each player is provided with room and board in a family home in the community. Ice rental at the Yellowhead Centre comes in at $24,000 plus per year and 34% of the income at the YHC concession, the Red Line Grill comes from Neepawa Natives Hockey games. The team also rents the YHC hall several times a year at full retail rental rates.

The team spends almost all of its $400,000 budget locally. Of course, the game day meals money is spent out of town but 33 times a year, out of town teams buy their team meals locally. Because of Neepawa’s central location, over 100 MJHL team trips come to or through Neepawa which is a good thing for Neepawa restaurants. Team staff salaries get spent locally and $60,000 per year goes to the local billet families. Billet families provide a home-style atmosphere for our players and most families plow their billet fees back into the local grocery store.


Financial statements

Because the Neepawa Natives Junior “A” Hockey Club is community-owned financial statements are issued each year at the team Annual General Meeting(AGM) which will be held Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Neepawa Library. Copies of the statements will be available at the meeting.


Player recruitment and educational support

By Byron Billett

Director of Player Personnel/Head Scout

Byron Billett is entering his fourteenth season associated with the Natives’ Organization. Billett played part of three seasons with the Natives from 1999-2000 season to the 2001-2002 season while completing his junior career as MJHL he was Addison Champion  with  the Winkler Flyers in 2002. Byron was recruited to play university hockey with Brandon University (CIS/USport). Unfortunately the summer prior to the 2002/03 season the university suspended its hockey operations. Despite that Byron went on to acquire three degrees (BA., BEd., & MEd.) towards his career as an educator and joining the club as a scout again in the 2007-2008 seasons.

Throughout his time with the Natives, Billett has been a highly respected player, scout, and in hockey operations for the Natives  in the past. Furthermore, Byron spent the 2009-2010, 2010-2011, 2016-17, & 2017-18 seasons as assistant coach with the club.

Billett’s current role with the club is to support the players on the team and work with his scouting staff to identify quality prospects for the club. Billett works throughout the year identifying players to be listed or drafted by the club each season.

Byron’s player development position is to help teach, train and help student with school commitments, professional opportunities, and Major Junior exposure. He also works closely with the General Manager, helping in player trades and acquisitions, including being directly involved in recruiting or scouting new players for the organization.


Over 90 Neepawa Natives players have graduated to higher levels of hockey

Online-Natives Higher Levels of Hockey