EL Vikings change coaches

February 12, 2024

Chris Keleher is out as head coach and general manager of the Elliot Lake Vikings of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League. And Hockey News North has also confirmed that Jon Campbell has been brought in as the Elliot Lake bench boss for the balance of the 2023-2024 NOJHL season.

Elliot Lake is currently on a 19 game losing streak and has a league worst record of 5-33-5. This was Keleher’s second season in Elliot Lake, which missed the playoffs in 2022-2023 with a 20-35-3 record.

While it hasn’t been an easy go for the Vikings this season — they had to vacate Centennial Arena in Elliot Lake when it was shut down due to structural concerns after just one game into the 2023-2024 campaign and subsequently had to relocate 45 miles away to the Massey and District Community Centre — the well paid Keleher seemingly fell short of expectations as both the GM and head coach.

Thus, it would seem, the decision by first year Vikings president and owner Jef Jarmovitch — who by the accounts of many is one of the good people of the NOJHL — to part ways with Keleher is not being criticized.

Jon Campbell

Jarmovitch, as the franchise owner in Elliot Lake, did not diss Keleher when confirming his ouster. And when asked about bringing on Cambell as head coach of the Vikings for the balance of the ’23-24 NOJHL season, Jarmovitch was brief.

“Jon Campbell was highly recommended by a few GMs I know when I was looking into whether he would be a good fit or not,” Jarmovitch relayed to Hockey News North.

Prior to his arrival in Elliiot Lake, Campbell had close to a decade of coaching experience in the Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

Meanwhile, Jarmovitch remains beyond thankful to the Township of Massey for doing all that It has done to continue to accommodate the Vikings — as it has for a good length of this season. 

“Absolutely, big thanks to the Township of Massey,” an appreciative Jarmovitch relayed to Hockey News North. “They put about $100,000 in upgrades (to the Massey and District Community Centre) just for us.”

Jef Jarmovitch

Then there are the merchants from Elliot Lake who have continued to support the Vikings as the team has continued to forge ahead without the use of its own home rink. 

“We would not have been able to survive this season without the help of so many businesses and supporters from Elliot Lake,” confirmed Jarmovitch, who also noted the generosity of the Soo Eagles, who are an NOJHL West Division rival of the Vikings.

“Special thanks to (Eagles president and general manager) Bruno (Bragagnolo) and the Soo Eagles,” said Jarmovitch. “Twice we played there (in November) and both times Bruno not only gave us some proceeds from the gate but he fixed us up with food for us to take back home on the bus. That is something that I as the owner of the Elliot Lake Vikings will never forget.”

To be sure, the Vikings will not make the playoffs this season. But the steely resolve of Jarmovitch as the owner and the players who have stayed the course gives the franchise hope for next season.

What you think about “EL Vikings change coaches”

  1. My son plays for the Vikings and the outreach of the multiple communities has been an amazing thing to witness. I didn’t know about the generosity and kindness of the Soo Eagles organization. This truly warms my heart.
    I agree, Jef is one of the good ones.
    Thank you for the several articles you’ve now written about the Vikings in particular. I’m glad you are drawing attention to the challenges and successes of their season.
    You nail it every time.

  2. It is impossible not to be proud of the Vikings organization. The respect that I have for them is so high. This team plays with genuine heart, they possess fortitude and their work ethic is rock solid. They have faced so many challenges this season but do not quit in any capacity. Yes, despite the losses the pride in this group of young men that I have never wavers. GO VIKINGS!

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