Zehr steps aside as Braves GM – team announces Lange as new boss

The Tavistock Braves have announced their entire coaching and management staff have stepped down and named a new general manager.

Jordan Zehr has resigned from his role as general manager. Zehr, a financial planner by trade, said it’s time for him to focus more on work and less on hockey. He’s been running the business since his dad passed away. The two were partners.

“The workload grew, of course, and I found that if I wanted to buckle down and do the job at work, it was the right decision to make at this point. The position with the Braves deserves 100 per-cent effort.”

Zehr and his late father Bob started as the management team in Tavistock eight years ago along with head coach Dan Kabfliesch and assistants Mike Albrecht and Andrew Witter. Bob passed away in June of 2021.

Zehr explained there isn’t one memory that stands out but the relationships he has developed with the entire organization does.

“We have had some pretty exceptional teams over the years. There have been a lot of good players, a lot of good young men come through the system. Doing the job in the beginning with my father was obviously a pretty cool thing. The partnership brings back a lot of great memories.”

The younger Zehr began his tenure with the team as a stick boy. He added being a part of the original team along with Jon Jutzi and Jared Frayne made his tenure feel not like a job, but something he did for the love of the game.

Kabfliesch, who resigned to spend more time with his family, and the rest of the coaching staff will be replaced in the fall, but Zehr has nothing but fond memories of them all.

“Dan (Kabfliesch) provided materials for the players that you would find at the Junior A and B levels. “Whether it be extended stats for them or video packages and just the general preparation he would have weekly, I think people would be shocked at the amount of effort he and the rest of the staff put in.”

Zehr wanted to give special thanks to Albrecht who put 15 years in as a player and coach.

The Braves recently announced Brent Lange as the team’s new general manager. Lange has a long hockey history in Tavistock in both junior and senior circles including a stint with the Braves as a goalie coach. He wanted to thank the outgoing staff for their years of service and added it is an honour to be hired as GM.

“I have a lot of work to do, but with that said we also hired a good young guy who is familiar with the team to be my assistant,” Lange said.

St. Marys native Cris Micelli is a graduate of the Humber College sports-management program and has served the last two years in a lead statistician role and scouting with Lange and Tavistock native Caitlin Dance.

“With him and I there together along with the hockey operations team, I think we can get this team back on course again, and by no means was it too far off course last season. This season we unfortunately took an early exit from the playoffs to a harder-working Hespeler team that came a long way,” Lange said.

The first order of business for Lange is to interview potential coaches for the upcoming year.

“There have been a few names brought forward which are all very good candidates. I have also reached out to several players I scouted this past season to see what their plans are for the upcoming year.

I received very good feedback from them and other players that were high on my list of targets.”

He added the Braves potentially have 17 returning players and two goalies. The Braves have seen the number of local players dwindle over the years, something Lange said he would like to improve on.

“We potentially have three or four Tavistock Minor hockey products on our team for the upcoming year. We also have a few from the Stratford area.”

Lange added he has watched some local teams in Tavistock here and Stratford and would like to see players in a local organization advance to junior programs locally.

“There are some good players in the Tavistock and Stratford areas we need to get out and take a strong look at in our upcoming camps. We always want to give a local kid a shot if they’re willing and able to make that commitment and a big jump from minor hockey to Junior C. It’s not a small jump anymore like it might have been back in the Junior Development days.”

Lange said he’s thankful for an understanding family that will make his journey easier.

“I am lucky because I have a very supportive wife and kids, so I can do this type of stuff. It’s time to start this exciting new journey and put the work boots on and try to get back to the team we had a few years ago that was good, strong, fast-paced, hardworking, gritty, tough and had no quit in them.”

Lee Griffi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wilmot-Tavistock Gazette