Welcome to the KIJHL Notebook
Throughout the season, KIJHL Notebook will focus on various things that stand out from each team over the week. We hope that fans will enjoy reading this each week.
The league’s 54th opening weekend wrapped up with five teams going 2-0 – the Columbia Valley Rockies, Fernie Ghostriders, Nelson Leafs, Kelowna Chiefs and Kamloops Storm.
- Briar McNaney, a former Rockies player, got his first win behind the bench Friday in a 5-2 win over the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. Brady Dovichak netted the winner, while Noah Decottignies made 36 saves. In a Twitter post, McNaney wrote: “Just want to give a quick thank you to all of the players, staff, volunteers and management, and fans of the Rockies, my mom, dad and grandma for helping me achieve my first win as a junior head coach. Three-and-a-half years of waiting and working for this moment felt like a breeze. The clock hit 0:00. The Rockies followed it up with a 4-2 win in Creston Valley.”
- The Ghostriders earned back-to-back wins against the Kimberley Dynamiters. The first in overtime, 4-3 with Ethan MacDuff netting the winner at 2:35. It was his second of the night. Three of the Ghostrider goals came on the power-play. The second game resulted in another 4-3 decision. Brady Stange scored the winner. After the opening weekend he leads rookies scorers with five points. The Ghostriders went 4-for-12 on the power-play, for 33 per cent. Their penalty kill was 90 per cent effective.
- The Leafs defeated the Castlegar Rebels 10-3, then earned a 4-3 overtime win over the Osoyoos Coyotes. Matthew Byrne, who was named a first star this week, put up two goals and seven points. Hunter Floris and Ethan McLaughlin lead the Leafs with three goals. McLaughlin and Byrne, along with Liam McLaren were part of a big off-season trade with the Summerland Steam. All three players have junior A experience they bring. Floris captained the Olds Grizzlys last season and scored 23 goals in 52 games. He has 113 games of junior A experience. The Leafs have 14 goals, trailing only the Revelstoke Grizzlies.
- The Chiefs used two power-play goals to help lead them past the Summerland Steam 4-2. Liam Drager scored a beautiful goal between his legs for the winner. Jordan Woytas, reacquired from Summerland, enjoyed a three-point weekend. Their specialty teams were strong (30.8 per cent on PP, 88.9 per cent on the PK).
- The Storm went 2-0 with overtime wins over Chase and North Okanagan. Zakery Anderson and Owen Barrow were the OT heroes. Branden Toye is third among all rookies in scoring with four points.
- The Rebels split their opening games. After losing to the Leafs, they handed the Border Bruins their second loss. They peppered 20 shots in the first period on Dillon Beebe and finished with 50. Justin Duguay and Jordan Adams led the Rebels with two goals, the latter’s second goal being the game winner. Adams, a Rocky Mountain House, Alta., native is in his second season with the Rebels and matched his goal output from last season, which took 37 games. Good on him.
- Kiev Kineshanko. The Chase Heat goalie has a cool name. He outdueled North Okanagan Knights’ Jacob Dubinsky in an offensive shootout – 7-5. The Heat scored three unanswered goals in the third period to earn the win. Cameron McKenzie led with two goals, while Jacob Biensch scored the winner. Biensch was named the KIJHL’s third star.
- The Creston Valley Thunder Cats lost both its opening games to the Rockies. The Thunder Cats weren’t able to capitalize on their five power-play chances, but allowed two against them on four tries. The Thunder Cats opened the scoring in both games. In the first game they took a 2-0 lead in the first five minutes. Rookie Eric Van Loon leads the Thunder Cats with two goals and scored their first of the season.
- The Golden Rockets opened the season with a pair of losses. They had a 2-0 lead on the Sicamous Eagles before falling 4-2 on Friday. Jeremi Delaquis faced 42 shots in his KIJHL debut. On Saturday, they travelled to Revelstoke to take on the Grizzlies. After leading 3-1 after one, the Grizzlies scored three in the second period en route to a 7-2 win. Delaquis came in to relieve Daniel Ilic, who stopped 35 of 41 shots in 40 minutes.
- The Grand Forks Border Bruins peppered Jordan Berschiminsky with 50 shots, yet only beat him once on a goal by Josh Bishop. Forty-one of those shots were fired in the first and second period. The next day against the Rebels, the Border Bruins had a 2-0 lead, but seven minutes after taking that lead, the Rebels outscored them 5-1. Three goals came on the power-play and one was short-handed. Captain Rilee Poffenroth had three assists.
- The Dynamiters penalty kill went 4-for14 in their two losses to the Ghostriders. Rookie goalie Trystan Self played in both games stopping 54 of 62 shots.
- The North Okanagan Knights collected one point over the weekend. They got edged out 3-2 in overtime by the Storm. The Knights erased a two-goal deficit as Matthew Johnson scored the equalizer with 1:37 remaining in regulation.
- The Osoyoos Coyotes earned three points on the weekend, making coach Carter Rigby happy. Rigby says it was important to have a good start and get those points for the returning players who endured the difficult start last year.
“It’s nice to have a strong weekend. All the hours and time put in, is hopefully paying off,” says Rigby, adding it was nice for them to stay with Nelson. “I think Nelson will be one of the top teams in the whole league. The benchmark out this way.”
Among the players who stood out, aside from Berschiminsky, who was named a KIJHL second star, was Levi Carter with four points. Rigby called Carter an “absolute machine.”
“The kids skates, a strong farm boy out of Keremeos,” says Rigby, adding with continued development he can make the jump to junior A.
- The Princeton Posse were winless over the weekend. They managed two goals by Joshua Austin and off-season addition Carson Cecconi. Lukan Ashton of Edmonton made 33 saves in the loss to Summerland. He had a .943 save percentage.
- The Revelstoke Grizzlies had one game on the weekend – defeating the Rockets 7-2. They spread out their offence with goals from Cole Berg, Cash Sawchyn, Jovan Malay, Tyden McWillis, Josh Singh, Collin Kozijn and Brendan Vulcano. Caleb Dancey had two assists. On Tuesday, the Grizzlies defeated the Sicamous Eagles 8-3. Noah Desouza made 17 saves.
- The Sicamous Eagles split their weekend games. They doubled up the Rockets 4-2 in Golden, after trailing 2-0. Tyler Verbeek made 32 saves for the win. Rhett Walker scored the winner 28 seconds into the third period.
- Summerland Steam coach Nick Deschenes had to wait for the second game to earn a win in his KIJHL return. The former Border Bruins coach lost his debut in Kelowna 4-2. Deschenes got his first win of the season on Sunday, when the Steam defeated the Posse 3-1 on home ice. Ben Wilson made 25 saves, while James Johnson, Brennan Wilson and Jacob Schulting scored. The Steam did return the favour against Kelowna, defeating the Chiefs 4-3 on Tuesday.