Leading up to the start of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s 2020-21 season, which starts Nov. 13, 2020, the league is publishing team previews.
These stories will highlight areas of focus for the respective organizations as well as players. We highlighted the Kamloops Storm and now return to the Bill Ohlhausen Division to feature the Kelowna Chiefs.
The Chiefs had the fourth best record in the KIJHL last season with 32 wins. They advanced to the second round of the Teck Cup playoffs.
Marshall Porteous has been named the Chiefs’ captain. Dunsmoor Creative photos
Following that season, Chiefs coach Ken Law says the organization wanted to improve their depth, size and speed and believe they accomplished that. The Chiefs kept players in camp following their main training camp, and as they do that, they are establishing the right COVID-19 habits in maintaining their bubble. They are holding an extended camp to the November opening.
“We have already been practicing since the beginning of September,” says Law. “We have been focusing on lots of game conditioning drills and games to keep progressing to exhibition. We have worked on lots of team building, while staying focused for the trying season ahead mentally and physically.”
Michael Toole heads into his season season with the Chiefs after winning 13 as a rookie last season in 20 games.
Incoming rookies: “We feel this has been a great recruiting year as far as getting players we feel will show well and turn heads. Some of our recruits this season were affiliate players with us last season and already know how we want guys to play.”
Sam Dixon (West Kelowna) played with the Chiefs last season, will add grit, speed and a strong work ethic.
Spencer Horning (Kelowna) had also spent time playing with the Chiefs last season and brings a high hockey IQ, great speed and a scoring touch.
Owen Slauson(Kelowna) is another AP the Chiefs feel will add to their defensive core and size on the backend.
Jaden Lohn (Kelowna) is another AP, who came into camp and showed how hard he had worked in the offseason to earn a position on defence.
Jace Lesanko (St. Albert, Alta.) is a large, good skating offensive threat from the backend the Chiefs know will be a force and a fan favourite.
Brett Joseph (St. Albert, Alta.) is a smooth skating D-man with very good vision and playmaking abilities, who will make good decisions in all three zones.
Jaydon Ryan (St. Albert, Alta.) is another D-man who understands the game and is an exceptional skater.
Jack Downey (Calgary, Alta.) will be a player to watch as he has very quick feet and hands and the ability to make plays at a high speed. A very good work ethic and a very good shot.
George Derkat (Calgary, Alta.) and a teammate of Downey. Their years of playing together shows when they practice. Derkat is an intelligent puck moving playmaker with a very accurate shot.
Chase Eising (West Kelowna) is a big power forward with a very heavy shot and a battle mentality that fans will like.
Tegan Neuman, the lone 16 year old forward, plays like a seasoned veteran and will be an exciting player to watch as he is very shifty with incredible hockey sense.
Hunter Johnson (Swift Current, Sask.) is a d-man with junior experience, and will bring calm and leadership to the younger D-men. He sees the ice well and will be a threat every time he handles the puck. A physical playmaking leadership individual they know will do whatever it takes to help his teammates.
Keelan Hondro (Vancouver Island) is a goalie that will surprise fans with his compete level and quickness in the crease.
Matteus Reis (Kelowna) will surprise opponents with his strong work ethic and forechecking speed. The Chiefs expect him to turn pucks over and make smart plays.
Coletyn Boyarski (Kelowna) played major midget last season with the Okanagan Rockets. He brings a lot of skill and speed with a very good hockey IQ. The Chiefs expect great play from Boyarski should he stay as he has a junior A opportunity in Saskatchewan.
Ty Marchand is entering his season season with the Chiefs.
Key veterans returning are Ty Marchant, Marshall Porteous, Caleb Brown and Michael Toole.
Law says he wants his team to play an “upbeat, in your face, forceful hockey, keying on a solid defensive structure.”