This week’s KIJHL Notebook provides an update on what the Princeton Posse have been doing, and on how teams are doing, while highlighting specific players and how they are performing in certain areas.
Bill Ohlhausen Division
The Osoyoos Coyotes have nine wins in 13 games and are tied for first in the division with the Summerland Steam. The Coyotes have three of the four KIJHL points leaders starting with Jack Henderson with 24 in 13 games. In an effort to strengthen their goaltending, Head Coach Carter Rigby picked up Powell River Kings netminder Kenny Gerow. When asked about the decision behind acquiring another goalie, Rigby laughed and said, “look at our goals against.”
“Kenny Marquart who is unbelievable, he is great, is still 16,” says Rigby. “Tanner has just been inconsistent right now and I want to make a run at the KIJHL Teck Cup this year and I do believe we have the team that can do it. I have a strong belief in building from the backend out and making sure you’re deep in the net.”
Coyotes fans can expect to see Gerow in the crease soon.
The Summerland Steam were the first KIJHL club to hit double digits in wins with 10 in 14 games. Rookie forward Grayson Chell leads the team with 16 points in 13 games, while Jackson MacDonald leads in goals with eight. Ben Lewis has five wins with a .909 save percentage. The Steam are currently on a three-game winning streak.
The Kelowna Chiefs have won seven of their 14 games. Spencer Horning leads the team with 17 points in 14 games. The Chiefs played one game last weekend, defeating 100 Mile House 8-1 led by Jordan Lowry’s hat-trick and four point night. Head Coach Travers Rebman says his team has been playing inconsistent lately, part of it caused by instability in their lineup from injuries and suspensions.
“The players are beginning to understand the importance of preparation and are getting more comfortable with systems and each other so I am optimistic about our group overall,” says Rebman.
Rebman has been impressed with the two-way play of Cody Laybolt (one goal, seven points in 12 games). Coming into the season, Rebman expected Laybolt to bring offensive upside.
“It’s been a nice surprise to see how committed he is on both ends of the ice,” adds Rebman. “He plays in all situations for us, PP, PK and typically one of our top lines and has been a very dependable player thus far.”
The North Okanagan Knights have five wins in 13 games, and were riding a three-game winning streak before it was snapped by Princeton. On Saturday, they were shutout by Revelstoke in Enderby. Devin Jameson continues to lead the Knights in all offensive categories with five goals and 11 points in 13 games. Goalie Gabriel Murrells-Allaway has three wins.
With three wins on the season, the Princeton Posse have been helping their community deal with a massive flood after they split their weekend games. Players have been spending hours filling sandbags. Posse Head Coach Mark Readman got a call at 9 p.m. while working in his offence and was told the river level was rising and it was raining heavily.
“Our one river that flows right through town, right where the brown bridge is, it was 10 to 12 feet high,” he says. “Almost touching the bridge and coming over the embankment. Our guys kind of quickly sprung into action. Anyone on our team that had a truck, we all met at the firehall. They had sand and some bags there and everyone was sandbagging, filling bags with the rest of the community.”
The Posse were there from approximately 9:30 p.m. until 2 a.m. Check the KIJHL website for more on the Posse and how they have helped their community.
Doug Birks Division
With 10 wins in 15 games, the Revelstoke Grizzlies lead the division by two over Kamloops, who have two games in hand on the Grizzlies. They are the second team in the league to hit 10 wins on the season. The Grizzlies have climbed to the top thanks to a five-game winning streak. They scored the opening goal in all five games and have won nine of 10 when leading after one.
Since the start of the season, Bennett Kuhnlein has the highest points per game average at 0.67 with eight points in 12 games. Brandon Kasdorf, who recently rejoined the team, has five points in five games.
The Kamloops Storm have won nine of 13 games and lost both their matches on the weekend. They are 3-3 when opponents score first. Mason Svarich climbed the team scoring ranks to second with 11 points in six games and had a five-game point streak. The Stony Plain, Alberta product has moved onto the SJHL with the Nipawin Hawks and scored in his first game. Quesnel’s Colton Phillip-Watts is with the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials and played 51 minutes making 27 saves on 32 shots on Nov. 6.
The Chase Heat have seven wins in 13 games and have won two of their four games this month. Head Coach Brad Fox says they have been hit with a rash of injuries.
“When that happens and you are trying to progress and grow and become the team you designed at the start of the year, the young guys get to fast track their development and get the experience with the next man up mentality,” says Fox. “The biggest upside for us is those guys are now starting to gain momentum and confidence in being able to play big minutes. You need that.”
Fox says both his goalies Jack Osmond and Roderic May have given them a chance to win – combining for a .907 save percentage and 3.10 goals against average. He’s also been pleased with Dylan Handel.
“He’s a really skilled player and he makes really good decisions,” says Fox. “Brayden Haskell has been outstanding in a leadership role and has been really nice to see. As a 20-year-old, he has been in the league a long time. Throughout our roster, everybody has taken on the responsibility of playing hard and playing right to give us a chance to win every night.”
The 100 Mile House Wranglers are on a three-game skid, with their most recent loss – a 3-2 shootout defeat to the Heat. The Wranglers have four wins on the season. Nathan Bohmer has nine goals and 13 points in 11 games to lead the Wranglers.
The Sicamous Eagles have three wins on the season and getting more offence of late, exploding for nine goals in a win over Osoyoos. Hayden Fast and Dmitry Dyskin each had three assists. Fast leads the team with eight points, while Dyskin leads with six assists.
General Manager Ron Sleeman says his team has good and bad games. While offence has been a challenge, he feels they are not giving up a lot of goals and was happy to see the jolt of offence against Osoyoos. In their recent 6-2 loss to Revelstoke on Tuesday they tied the game at two, but had breakdowns leading to the loss.
“That is something we are working on right now,” says Sleeman. “We’ve had confidence all year, it’s just trying to build it. We have 16 young men who have never been away from home and that’s a big adjustment too.”
Sleeman says that forward Alex Smith is the most improved player.
“He has grown into his own and is coming out of his shell and is scoring some nice goals,” says Sleeman. “He scored a beautiful goal the other night, and has the last two nights.”
As hard as Smith works in practice, he replicates it in games, which Sleeman says is phenomenal.
Eddie Mountain Division
The Columbia Valley Rockies remain atop their division with 10 wins in 16 games for 23 points. Colby Phillips leads the team with 20 points in 16 games, while Kayde Kinaschuk leads the group with 13 goals in 14 games. He also leads with three winning goals. Of the Rockies’ 63 goals, nearly half were scored in the third period, in which they outscore their opponents 24 to 16.
The Creston Valley Thunder Cats are five points back of Columbia Valley with nine wins in 15 games. The two teams battled it out on Wednesday in Creston Valley, with the Rockies taking the win.. Vin Jackson leads the Thunder Cats with 15 points in 15 games, while Sheldon Kwiatkowski has eight goals and 13 points in nine games. Kwiatkowski is on a five-game point streak with eight goals and an assist.
The Kimberley Dynamiters have eight wins on the season and are undefeated at 4-0 when scoring first, and they are 6-0 when leading after two periods. Allowing the third fewest goals in their division, Tristan Self has been solid with six wins and a .920 save percentage. The Calgary product is 3-1 in his last four games.
After starting the season 4-0, the Golden Rockets have six wins in 13 games. Head Coach and General Manager Chuck Wight is seeing an inconsistency from his group.
“This weekend showed it,” he says. “We had a great game the first night against Beaver Valley, and then we just didn’t seem to have the same level of competition the next night. We can talk about the youth movement here, but the reality is, it’s about getting the athletes to play at a very consistent level. That’s what we’re striving for.”
The large focus for him is pre-game prep. Wight says with the travel and getting used to the KIJHL with the younger players, it’s understanding how to prepare mentally for competition.
Wight says their goaltending has been a strong presence, but have also received strong defensive play. While the Rockets give up a lot of shots, many are from the perimeter.
“Up front, we’ve had some good consistency from players like Jordan Lario and Will Vernon with their efforts,” says Wight. “Aidan Ballance as well and veterans, who have battled through injury.”
Neil Murdoch Division
The Nelson Leafs have climbed to the top of the division with nine wins, including an 8-0 victory over the Grand Forks Border Bruins on Tuesday. Rookie defenceman Bryce Sookro now leads the team with 13 points in 14 games. Sookro enjoyed a two-goal, three-point performance against the Border Bruins. The Leafs have improved to 6-2 when scoring first.
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks have eight wins in 15 games and lost both their games last weekend.
“We’re struggling. Lots of little things are happening and we’re not adapting well. Our discipline has been horrible and our attention to detail is really lacking and our special teams play has really fallen off,” says Head Coach and General Manager Terry Jones. “As a young team, when things start to go sideways, and south a little bit, the confidence of a lot of the players goes south too. That is what we have been focusing on in practice, is rebuilding our confidence and shoring up some of the details.”
The positive is that Jones still sees his team competing hard, it’s just finding that fine line between competing too hard and being undisciplined. The players want to win and play well and sometimes “they go a little overboard.”
Jones has liked the performance of Austin McKenzie, who he says has been shining bright.
“He’s got six goals in the last three games and has been playing really hard and really competitive and definitely a bright light for us right now,” says Jones.
The Castlegar Rebels have six wins in 14 games, and are on a four-game winning streak earning victories over Nelson, Grand Forks, Golden and Beaver Valley. Griffen Ryden had seven goals in four games, while Nathan Dann had three goals and six points in four games. Ryden now has 13 goals in 12 games, while Dann is second in team scoring with 13 points in 14 games. Goalie Ethan Lawczynski was named the KIJHL’s first star for earning three wins to go with a 1.67 goals against average and .948 save percentage.
Winless in 13 games, it’s been a struggle for the Grand Forks Border Bruins as they have only played one game with a full roster. Injuries and suspension have prevented Head Coach and GM Dave Hnatiuk from working with a full group.
“I give the guys a lot of credit, they are working hard,” says Hnatiuk, whose group has had three lopsided losses on the season, the last coming on Tuesday, 8-0 to Nelson. “Some things are going well. Our PK is still second in the league at 89.4 per cent. Our goalies are both over 90 percent save percentage.”
Tuesday’s loss put Justin Dueck’s percentage at .895, while Ethan Shebansky has a .916 save percentage.
Hnatiuk says his new captain Ray Warrack has been playing well lately. With five goals and 11 points in 12 games, Warrack has three points in his last four games. Warrack was promoted to captain following the trade of Nick Morin to Kelowna.
“He has taken a leadership role and he’s running with it,” says Hnatiuk. “He has introduced some community work, and each week the team goes out for an hour and they pick up garbage in town and they are coming up with different ideas to do their own thing.”