KIJHL Notebook

Jennifer Small photo


Welcome to the first KIJHL Notebook for the 2022-23 season. The opening weekend finished with four players, including three rookies scoring three goals or more. Several rookies collected their first career points and there were also two shutouts, all of which we will get into those performances as you read on.

Eddie Mountain Division

Dayton Nelson is off to a hot start for the Fernie Ghostriders with three goals and six points in two games. Last season Nelson finished second in points on the team with 37 in 33 games. Sean Jacobs, who had 10 points, all assists in 38 games last season, had his first career KIJHL goal, a winner against Golden.

For National Truth and Reconciliation Day, the Ghostriders have purchased Every Child Matters t-shirts from a friend of one of their Indigenous players. These t-shirts will be worn for the weekend as the team leaves on a three-game road trip Sept 30. The players will also have orange laces and orange stick tape, which will be worn/used this weekend. Teck has also donated Every Child Matters stickers which the players will put on their helmets.

The Columbia Valley Rockies opened their season with a split and rookie Lucas De La Salle had an impressive debut with four goals, including the winner. Head Coach & GM Emery Olauson said they were inconsistent in their play.

“I thought against Kimberley we were very excited and ready. In the Fernie game, we looked our age,” he said. “We were dressing just one veteran defenceman and looked like we had mostly rookies in the lineup. I had very different feelings from the Kimberley game than I did the Fernie game, and wading through the mistakes. Give them credit, they came out of the weekend 2-0 and they deserve it. We were less focused and less determined than Fernie. The offence looked good, but our special teams looked OK and five-on-five play in Fernie just wasn’t where we hoped it would be.”

The Kimberley Dynamiters opened their season with a split. Kade Leskosky led the Dynamiters with a hat-trick, while Cam Reid netted a winner. Trystan Self made 24 saves to earn his first victory of the season. Myles Hayne scored his first career KIJHL goal, while Ethan Bloomquist scored his first goal against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. 

On Friday, Kimberley hosts Chase on National Truth and Reconciliation Day (NTRD)TR and will have Ka Kin Nana drummers, Little Wolf Ktunaxa Cousin performing at their game. The Cousins are aged nine to 14.

The Creston Valley Thunder Cats picked up a point in two games. Second-year player Luke Chakrabarti leads the Thunder Cats with three points in two games and Head Coach & GM Brad Tobin said his team played pretty well Friday against the Castlegar Rebels.

“The home opener we were energetic, we had a lot of shots, but we just couldn’t buy a goal. There was a little frustration building throughout the game, but we battled to the end and lost in the shootout,” he said. “Kimberley was kind of as expected. It’s their home opener, they always have a pretty big crowd and we have a lot of rookies as well. It is one of the bigger rinks in the league and I thought we played well for about half the game.”

The positives Tobin saw were in the systems and he feels the players are getting it and added the effort level has to be there all the time. 

“It’s a step in the right direction in terms of what to expect through the rest of the season.”

The Golden Rockets opened their season with back-to-back games at home, losing 6-2 against the Fernie Ghostriders. Nick Morin, recently acquired from the Kelowna Chiefs, scored his first goal for the Rockets, then set up rookie Kylo Monkman for his first junior hockey goal. On Saturday they lost to Revelstoke, 5-4 in a shootout. Morin leads the Rockets with five points, while Carson Cairns made his KIJHL debut, with 29 saves.
Neil Murdoch Division
Rookie Beau Manegre has five assists to lead the Beaver Valley Nitehawks in points after two games. The Nitehawks improved to 2-0 on the season following a 5-4 overtime win over the Grand Forks Border Bruins. The Nitehawks trailed 4-3 with under four minutes remaining in regulation then tied it. Rookie blueliner Griffin McCullough was the OT hero with his first career goal and added an assist. Connor Stojan made 28 saves for his first career win. On Saturday, the Nitehawks defeated the Osoyoos Coyotes 6-3, led by Kevin Unruh’s hat-trick performance. Jeremy Hanson netted the winner and Nathan Presley earned his first KIJHL win with 26 saves.

On Oct. 1, the Nitehawks have a ceremony planned for NTRD in which they will reveal their Indigenous jersey and take a moment to reflect on our tragic history. 

The Nelson Leafs opened their season with a pair of wins under new Head Coach Adam DiBella. The Leafs new bench boss said they started slow, but as the games progressed and the intensity built, they rose to the occasion. They gave up the first goal to Princeton, but got two goals on special teams from Johnny Carmichael and Bennett Anklewich. Against Grand Forks, they found themselves down 2-0, but came back to win 4-2.

“We have been very impressed with our returning players and leadership group,” said DiBella. “They are leading by example every shift with their work ethic and attention to detail.”

The key player to the Leafs’ start is rookie goalie Jasper Tait, who has carried his strong play from exhibition into the regular season to earn a stellar .958 save percentage with a 1.50 goals against average.

“Jasper has been our best player through the first two games. He is an incredibly hard worker, he doesn’t let anyone out work him,” said DiBella. “He comes to compete every night, and I really like how calm and focused he is. He is a big reason why we were able to pick up four points last weekend.”

Last year it took the Grand Forks Border Bruins 15 games to earn their first point and 19 for their first win. The wait was much shorter this year – the opening win came in their first game at Jack Goddard Memorial Arena, 6-5 against the North Okanagan Knights. After losing to Nelson on Saturday, the Border Bruins picked up their third point following a 5-4 overtime loss to Beaver Valley on Tuesday. They had a 4-3 lead with just under four minutes remaining.
Rookie Evan Calder scored twice to lead the Castlegar Rebels past the Creston Valley Thunder Cats 3-2 in a shootout to open the season. The Rebels then lost 4-1 in their home opener to the Princeton Posse with Calder again scoring. Head Coach & GM Arnie Caplan said how his team performed on the weekend wasn’t bad, but there is room for improvement.

“The first game was a feeling out game for a lot of guys. We managed to pull out the win which was nice,” said Caplan. “Game 2 I thought we played better overall, and I thought we outplayed Princeton for two periods, we just couldn’t score. That was kind of our nemesis last year and we want to address that and try to score more goals. We weren’t able to capitalize and finish and we had a lot of good chances. Their goalie played well.”

Bill Ohlhausen Division
  The Summerland Steam opened the season with a 3-0 shutout win over the Kelowna Chiefs with Connor Nicolay scoring twice, his first career junior hockey goals, and Ben Lewis making 24-saves and being named the KIJHL’s Top Goalie for the week. The Steam then lost 2-1 in a shootout to Kelowna on the road. Nash Bishop scored their lone goal, his first career tally. On Tuesday, the Steam down 2-1, defeated the Osoyoos Coyotes 3-2 in OT. Nicolay, Kent Moors and captain Cole Waldbillig scored for the Steam.

Steam Head Coach & GM Mark MacMillan said his team had a pretty good start on the weekend. 

“We were playing against one of our big rivals in Kelowna and found a way to get three of the four points,” he said. “We have some stuff to work on for sure. I was happy with the players’ effort and it is definitely something to build on. One thing I want to drive home with guys is to win hockey games you have to compete, doesn’t matter how skilled you are. I liked our tenaciousness and our work ethic. We were down for a lot of the game in Kelowna and found a way to tie the game and send it to overtime. ”

Rookie Aidan Morcom helped the Kelowna Chiefs take the second game of back-to-backs against the Summerland Steam in a shootout. Patrick Ferrie opened the scoring for the Chiefs with rookie Matthew Keylor getting his first KIJHL point on the assist. When they host Fernie on Friday, the Chiefs will wear their new white jersey’s that have the Westbank First Nations logo on the sleeve. 
The Princeton Posse returned from the West Kootenay’s with two points after their win over the Castlegar Rebels. Penticton’s Joshua Roy’s first KIJHL goal proved to be the winner and goalie Nate Glenn earned his first career win.
Hunter Harwood, acquired from the Port Alberni Bombers, leads the Osoyoos Coyotes with two goals. Coletyn Boyarksi, who has played 60 games at the Junior A level, got a short-handed goal and assist against Beaver Valley.
Rookie Connor Sankey scored twice for the North Okanagan Knights who came up short in an offensive battle against the Border Bruins. Other rookies getting in on the offence were Brodie Pearson (two assists) and Ben Van Langen with an assist. Prior to their game against Golden Friday, the team will hold a moment of silence for NTRD.
Doug Birks Division 
  Wyatt Sorken of the Revelstoke Grizzlies had a memorable junior debut with six goals to help his team defeat the 100 Mile House Wranglers 9-0. Jozef Kuchaslo made 29-saves for the shutout, the fifth of his KIJHL career. 

“He was great out of the gate with six goals in one game,” said Grizzlies Head Coach & GM Ryan Parent. “That was an incredible game for him.”

On Saturday, the Grizzlies defeated the Rockets 5-4 in a shootout, with Ethan Mattern netting the winner. Defenceman Brandon Gallo, named the KIJHL’s Top Defenceman for the 3 Stars of the Week, led the team with three points. Owen Albers earned his first win after being traded from Beaver Valley. The Grizzlies added Albers because they value his experience. He won 12 games for the Nitehawks last season and played eight games with the BCHL Trail Smoke Eaters as an affiliate player last season. They also like his size at six-foot-seven, 188-pounds. 

Parent said the team is going through the process of figuring things out and learning what works for them with their combination of veterans and rookies.

“We’re a team that really has to work for what we get. We understand that,” he said. “We got four points on the weekend and we need to continue to find ways to win hockey games. I’ve been really impressed with how our group has really dug in and found ways to win and get better.”

The Sicamous Eagles had a strong start to their season picking up a pair of wins as they outscored their opponents 8-3. Rookie Zack Brandson is proving to be a clutch offensive contributor, netting both game-winners and leads the Eagles with three points. Goalies Gage Reimer and Damon Cunningham have combined for a 1.50 goals against average and a .952 save percentage.
The Kamloops Storm under new Head Coach Jan Ludvig opened the season with a victory against the Chase Heat. Their offence was spread out among four players and Ty Horner netted the winner. Goalie Cody Creasy picked up his first win of the season. The second-year goalie had nine wins in 12 games last season.
  The 100 Mile House Wranglers were challenged offensively being shutout in their first game, then managed two goals in their second from rookie Jack Mulder and Bryce Burnett, who had six goals and 13 points in 18 games for the Wranglers last season.
Rookies Jalen Davidson and Kieran Armitage scored both Chase Heat goals on the weekend. Davidson leads the team with two points.