Jennifer Small photo
With most teams in the KIJHL having completed half their regular-season schedule, the KIJHL Notebook provides insight into how they have performed recently and who some of their statistical leaders are.
Doug Birks Division
The Revelstoke Grizzlies enter the midway mark of their season riding an 11-game winning streak. The Grizzlies are ranked the second-best team in the KIJHL based on points percentage. On Tuesday they picked up a 4-3 win over Sicamous to improve their road record to 10-5. In their last five games, the Grizzlies have outscored the opposition 20-6.
Grizzlies assistant coach Jiri Novak says they played well during this past weekend and are happy to have won both games in front of their amazing fans.
“Both games we played were against good teams, especially against Kamloops,” says Novak. “It wasn’t easy but we found a way to win these games and be successful during our parents weekend. The game in Sicamous was a challenge for us to continue on our winning streak. They played well and they showed progress. We would like to continue our streak, but we expect two difficult games this upcoming week against 100 Mile House and Chase.”
Novak added that they are happy all their lines are able to score and be productive and that they play well in their defensive zone.
“It’s great to see the progress of our group in the last month, but the goal for us is to be ready at the end of the season,” he says.
The Grizzlies Porter Trevelyan, Brandon Gallo, Jacob Smith and Carter Bettenson all tied with 12 points to lead the team. Trevelyan leads in goals with 10.
The Kamloops Storm are a game away from their midway mark and sit in second in their division. They are also among the top-five teams in the league based on points percentage. The Storm have three wins in their last five games, with their most recent, a 2-1 loss to Revelstoke on Dec. 4 and have won six of their last 10 games. Zakery Anderson leads the team in goals (13) and in points (22).
The Chase Heat enter the weekend being three games from their midway mark, but earned a 9-0 home win over the 100 Mile House Wranglers. That victory was their first in five games. Matthew Poole’s fifth of the season to open the scoring was the winner, while Jacob Biensch netted the insurance marker with his eighth of the season and added three more to give him 11 to go with an assist. Lucas Ouellette had a four-point night, while five other players enjoyed multi-point performances.
A game away from their midway mark, the 100 Mile House Wranglers lost to Chase on Tuesday on the road. With three wins in their last 10 games, the Wranglers have won once in 10 road games. They are led by Nathan Bohmer, who was named the Top Forward in the KIJHL 3 Stars of the Week, in goals (14) and points (20). Local product Ethan Sanders is second in points with 11.
The Sicamous Eagles lost in overtime to the Grizzlies on Tuesday. As they host Kamloops on Friday, the Eagles have lost their last five and have three wins in 10 games. Two games from hitting the midway mark, the Eagles are the most disciplined team in the league with 176 penalty minutes. The next closest team is the Summerland Steam at 262. Eagles General Manager Ron Sleeman has said they pride themselves on playing a disciplined style.
“We’re trying to teach them to control themselves,” he said. “They are doing it very well. They are controlling their emotions as much as possible.” Hayden Fast leads the Eagles in points with 12, while Alex Smith leads in goals with six. Dmitry Dyskin has nine assists to lead the team.
Bill Ohlhausen Division
The Osoyoos Coyotes picked up their 16th win, 5-4 in overtime over the North Okanagan Knights Tuesday. The Coyotes are on a six-game winning streak, that includes seven wins in their last 10. They are the top team in the KIJHL. Jack Henderson leads the team in points (35), while Kaleb Kremp leads in goals (17). Of the 16 wins the Coyotes have, 11 are at home, where they are undefeated at the Sun Bowl Arena.
The Summerland Steam closed out its first half with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Kelowna Chiefs on the road. The Steam were able to erase a 3-0 deficit on goals by Tristan Weill with his eighth and ninth of the season and Jack Lynes with his sixth. With 13 wins on the season, the Steam travel to Princeton Friday. They have five road wins in 10 games. Weill leads the team in points (25) and is in a three-way tie for the lead in goals (9) with Grayson Chell and Jackson McDonald.
With 11 wins in 21 games, the Kelowna Chiefs have won three of their last five games and five of their last 10. They visit North Okanagan on Friday and have a 5-5-0 record on the road. The Chiefs are led offensively by Patrick Reynolds with 10 goals and 21 points. In goal, Frederick Larochelle has eight wins with a .911 save percentage. Head Coach Travers Rebman said they have made huge improvements in their discipline, adding that “the guys
have bought into that mentality and it’s been paying off.”
With their first half complete, Rebman likes their overall team chemistry, especially lately. “There’s still a lot of learning to happen with respect to handling different situations such as scoring early and not taking it easy or preserving a late lead, but systems wise the guys have made some really good progress and they are seeing the results of it,” said Rebman. “There’s always going to be work in areas like skill and skating that guys can do and we always fit that in weekly so it’s a constant upward trend for the most part.”
One game from hitting the midway mark of their season, the North Okanagan Knights are winless in their last six games, scoring nine goals. They were edged by the Coyotes on Tuesday, 5-4 in a shootout and host Kelowna on Friday. At the Nor-Val Centre, the Knights have won five of 10 games. Devin Jameson leads the team with 16 points in 20 games, while Matthew Johnston leads in goals with seven in 17 games. The Knights recently announced that goalie Gabriel Murrells-Allaway has been listed as an affiliate player with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, as has Johnston, who is from Salmon Arm.
The Princeton Posse have two wins in their last five games. On Friday they host the Steam in their first home game at the Princeton & District Arena since Princeton was first impacted by massive flooding.
“It means so much. Our team has gone through so much in the last month, thankfully we have the resources in place now to be able to play at home,” says Head Coach Mark Readman. “I mean we practice here every day, we spend so much time in this building that it was really unfortunate we were not able to have the real “home game” experience, but inevitably we had no control over that.”
There is excitement within the group to play in their own rink in front of their home fans.
Of the Posse’s five wins this season, four have come at home. Rookie Jaden Fodchuk leads the Posse in goals (15) and points (24) in 21 games. His point totals rank him seventh in the KIJHL and first among rookies.
Readman said the team is on their way to playing how they want, hitting the midway mark.
“I think the one thing we always have to keep in mind is that the majority of these players have missed an entire year of development and love hockey, so a lot of this year’s lessons come with a bit of a curve, but the boys are adapting well,” he says. “The team has been working hard and are consistently working everyday towards the team that we want to be. We have some guys still out with injuries, some big pieces in our lineup, once we have everyone back, everyone in this organization believes that we will be a team to be reckoned with.”
Eddie Mountain Division
The Columbia Valley Rockies are the first team in the league to have started games into the second half of the season, with 14 wins in 23 games. The Rockies have won three of their last five games and visit the Kimberley Dynamiters on Saturday. On the road, the Rockies have won five of their 11 games.
With their first half complete, the big thing that makes Head Coach Briar McNaney happy is the return of fans.
“It is an incredible feeling when they get excited and you don’t realize how much you miss them and their energy at home when you don’t have them,” says McNaney. “ As far as play goes, I am happy with the way the team has maintained a high level of play after playing this many games throughout the year. I feel that we have set a good foundation in our game which will translate well to the playoffs.”
On Dec. 3, the Rockies acquired the playing rights to 2001-born forward Trevor Ebeling from the Sicamous Eagles for future considerations. Ebeling was with the Okanagan Lakers of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League, but had yet to play a game. Ebeling made his Rockies debut the same day the trade was completed.
“Trevor has now played two games with us and has done a great job so far,” says McNaney. “We have given him a leadership, penalty killing and shut-down role to start and he has shown that he is capable of doing the job well. He has transitioned into our team quite quickly and we are happy to have a young man with his character.”
Kayde Kinaschuk leads the Rockies in goals (17) and points (25) in 21 games. Colby Phillips has 25 points in 22 games. Those totals put Kinaschuk and Phillips fourth and sixth overall in league points, respectively.
The Kimberley Dynamiters have 14 wins in 21 games and have won eight of their last 10. Head Coach and General Manager Derek Stuart likes that his players have bought into the defense-first approach.
“It is a big reason why we have turned things around,” says Stuart. “The attention to team defence seems to be especially good when we have a lead.”
The Dynamiters are undefeated at 9-0 when they score first and 11-0 when leading after two periods. They have 11 wins in 16 games against divisional opponents. While the Dynamiters have won five of their 10 road games, Stuart isn’t concerned with their road record.
“Apart from one game where we were dominated in Columbia Valley, four of our five road losses were one goal games,” he says. “Three of those four losses were in October when we weren’t playing like we are now.”
The Creston Valley Thunder Cats have won 12 of their 20 games. They have won three of their last five games, but have lost their last two against Fernie and Columbia Valley. Their next game is at home versus Fernie, who they have won two of their four games and are 7-2-0 at home. The Thunder Cats roster will look different as they traded Vin Jackson, their second highest points producer with 17 points, to Revelstoke for the playing rights to Kaito Umino, Joshua Singh and 2003-born forward Stavros Koutsantonis on Dec. 8.
The Fernie Ghostriders have three wins in their last five games and on Friday look for their 12th win in their 21st game. Hitting the midway mark of the season, Ghostriders Head Coach and General Manager Ty Valin likes how his team is looking.
“I feel like they are coming together nicely,” says Valin. “They are consistently getting better.”
Valin is really pleased with their commitment to playing strong in their defensive zone.
“They have committed to getting better at that. It shows in our goals against (51) and they have really developed that mindset.”
Valin says their division is extremely competitive, adding that anybody can beat anybody and it shows in the standings.
“When you have a division as tight as it is, it makes for fun games every night, every night is going to be a competitive game,” he says. “Every point matters that much more because the games are so tight.”
Kort Kisinger leads the team with 15 points.
The Golden Rockets have eight wins in 20 games and are winless in their last five. The Rockets have three wins in their last 10 games. Jordan Lario leads the team with 16 points, while Brydon Foster has eight goals in 18 games with the Rockets since being acquired from Osoyoos.
Neil Murdoch Division
With 13 wins in 21 games, the Nelson Leafs sit atop the division and have won four of their last five games and six of their last 10 as host Grand Forks on Friday. The Leafs have seven wins in 10 games at the Nelson Community Complex. They are led offensively by rookie blueliner and hometown product Bryce Sookro, who has 17 points in 21 games. Their leading goal scorer is Rhett Hamilton with nine goals in 21 games.
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks are two points behind the Leafs with 12 wins in 21 games. The Nitehawks have won three of their last five, but their last two have been losses and on Friday, they host the Castlegar Rebels, who they have split four games with. The Nitehawks have eight wins in 11 games at the Beaver Valley Arena. Rookie Hayden Stocks leads the team with 23 points, while Austin McKenzie leads with 12 goals in 19 games.
With eight wins in 21 games and five in their last 10, Castlegar Rebels Head Coach and General Manager Arnie Caplan feels the team is coming along and have made some strides with their team goals.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs which is typical of most teams, especially with a lot of first-year junior hockey players,” says Caplan. “We see progress in some areas, but it often comes with highs and lows before you can reach your goals consistently.”
The Rebels have made a couple trades over the last few days, the most recent on Wednesday, acquiring forward Caleb Genest and future considerations from the Princeton Posse for forward Colby Chavez-Leech, and defenceman Nick Woodrow from Golden on Dec.7.
“I believe Nick Woodrow will add some stability and youth to our blueline,” says Caplan. “He is a player we expect will step in and be effective, but will also continue to develop. He has some offensive potential which certainly could be a bonus for us.”
In 14 games between Kimberley, Fernie and Golden, Woodrow has two assists. Genest had a goal in 18 games for the Posse.
The Grand Forks Border Bruins earned their first win of the season Dec. 4 against Beaver Valley, with a 6-1 win.
“It was big. It was long overdue so it was nice that they got rewarded for their efforts,” says Border Bruins Head Coach and General Manager Dave Hnatiuk. “We have seen a lot of glimpses of our team playing one or two good periods that we are in games or have the lead and then we don’t complete the game. If you look at our last five game segments, going back to Golden, Creston and Castlegar and Nelson at home, and then BV, we played some pretty good hockey in those stretches. We could have won a few of those games. We just lacked that extra 10 minutes or 12 minute push. It’s a weight lifted off the shoulders for sure. We realize it’s one win so we have a long way to go. Now we are going to try and prove that it’s not just a lucky win and that we are capable of winning some games.”