The KIJHL completed a second week of action and the Golden Rockets are the lone team that remains undefeated at 3-0. Before the cancellation of the 2020-21 season, the Rockets were winless at 0-2.
Eddie Mountain Division
The Rockets have scored 11 goals and allowed four. Those numbers are the exact opposite from their 0-2 start last season. Offensively, the Rockets have three players tied for first with two goals and three points – Jordan Lario, Henry Loewen and rookie Will Vernon. Vernon, a Calgary product, collected his first KIJHL point on Tuesday, setting up Aiden Ballance for a power-play goal to give the Rockets four unanswered goals in a 4-2 victory over the Columbia Valley Rockies. Vernon then scored his first two career goals on Oct. 9 against the Fernie Ghostriders.
“For me it’s been, we’ve had some slow starts and have been able to get back on track. I like to see that from our team and that rebound ability within games and that they have a very strong pushback,” says Rockets Head Coach-GM Chuck Wight. “Our goaltending has been helping us stay in games early and through to the end. That has been a big part of it as well. Collectively we are playing better defensively right now which is great.”
The Kimberley Dynamiters sit second in the Eddie Mountain Division with three wins in four games. The Dynamiters lost their first game on Oct. 8, 2-1 against the Columbia Valley Rockies. They bounced back to earn a 2-1 win over Nelson. Cash Regan leads the Dynamiters with five points.
The Rockies picked up a pair of wins over Kimberley, 2-1 and Beaver Valley Nitehawks 5-3. Reed Sparrow and Ty Coady netted the winners in those games, respectively. Those wins improved the Rockies to 3-2. Colby Phillips leads the team with six points, while Sparrow has three goals – two of them game-winners.
The Creston Valley Thunder Cats have won two of their four games. After losing to the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 5-2, they doubled up the Castlegar Rebels 4-2 with Adam Redding scoring the winner. Carlos Siso earned his first win as a Thunder Cat with a 46-save effort.
The Fernie Ghostriders are 1-3-0 and new Head Coach-GM Ty Valin earned his first KIJHL win with a 5-2 decision over the Nelson Leafs. Their next game they lost 4-1 to the Golden Rockets. Kort Kisinger and Ethan MacDuff lead the Ghostriders with three points.
Neil Murdoch Division
The Nitehawks continued their undefeated start with a win over the Thunder Cats. They then dropped to 3-1 on Oct. 9 with a 5-3 loss to the Rockies. The Nitehawks have the second highest offence in the league with 20 goals. Rookie Judah Makway leads the team with four goals.
New Castlegar Rebels Head Coach-GM Arnie Caplan earned his first KIJHL win on Oct. 8 against the Grand Forks Border Bruins. Reacquired forward Griffen Ryden’s third goal was the winner in the third period. The next night at home, the Rebels lost 4-2 to the Thunder Cats, led by former Rebels coach Bill Rotheisler. Ryden has three of the Rebels nine goals.
The Nelson Leafs have a win in four games. After defeating the Ghostriders at home during the opening weekend, they lost 5-2 at the Fernie Memorial Arena on Oct. 8, giving up two power-play goals. In Kimberley, they were edged 2-1. Rhett Hamilton has three of the Leafs’ 12 goals.
Like opening weekend, the Border Bruins only played once on the weekend, losing 2-1 to the Rebels at home. Ray Warrack scored the lone goal on the power-play for his first KIJHL goal. Warrack is in a three-way tie for the team lead in points with Nick Morin and Hunter Wood at two points. The Border Bruins are winless in two games.
Doug Birks Division
The Kamloops Storm are in the penthouse of the Doug Birks Division with three wins in four games. They picked up a pair of road wins in North Okanagan and Chase, both 5-3. Zakery Anderson put up four goals, including the winner, against the Heat. Named the second star of the week this week, Anderson is fourth in league scoring with six points – all goals.
Keegan Pittendreigh’s winning goal helped lead the Chase Heat to a 4-2 victory over the Sicamous Eagles and gave them a 3-0 start, before losing to the Storm, 5-3. The Heat are averaging four goals a game, and are led in that department by Jarod Sigouin with four. Jacob Biensch is tied with Malachi Franklin with six points for the team lead.
There were four shutout victories over the weekend, and the Revelstoke Grizzlies were involved in two with their split. The final scores in their games matched at 2-0 – a loss to the Summerland Steam, then a victory over the Kelowna Chiefs. Ronin Pusch netted the winner, while Brandon Weare made 20 saves.
After opening the season with a loss, the 100 Mile House Wranglers picked up their first win, 5-4 over the visiting Princeton Posse. Garth Rasmussen scored the winning goal on a setup by Chase Vancoughnett-Lafleur. The Wranglers have seven goals in two games and are led by rookie Jace Myers of Williams Lake who has two.
The Sicamous Eagles lost both their games over the weekend to drop to 1-3. Kingsley Brockett leads the Eagles with three points, while Hayden Fast leads with two goals, both have come on the power-play.
Bill Ohlhausen Division
The Osoyoos Coyotes have three wins and an overtime loss, for seven points, to start the season and sit first overall in the league. The Coyotes scored 10 goals over the long weekend in a 7-3 win over the Kelowna Chiefs and a 3-0 victory over the Princeton Posse. Tanner Johnson earned his first career shutout with a 28-save effort. The Coyotes lead the league in goals with 23, led by Kaleb Kremp, who has four goals and eight points. Kremp netted a hat-trick over the Chiefs.
“I think the biggest thing as a staff that we are happy with is just our depth. We’re getting scoring from all 12 forwards and all six D every night,” says Coyotes Head Coach Carter Rigby. “The biggest thing, especially at this level, you find is that sometimes only your top two lines can score. We’re getting contributors from the backend, the power play, even strength and up front one through four.”
Summerland’s Ben Lewis was heavily tested by the Grizzlies in the Steam’s home-opening 2-0 win on Oct. 8. Lewis earned his first career KIJHL shutout with a 59-save performance and was named the first star for the 3 Stars of the Week. Lewis says a previous shutout performance he had in minor hockey was about 35 saves.
“I can’t even describe it. I was just almost in awe, especially against a team like Revelstoke,” says Lewis. “They have always been such a good team. We definitely came in knowing it was going to be a tough game. I was pretty ecstatic afterwards.”
Lewis says he had a good feeling it would be a good game, he just didn’t know it would be that good.
“I had a bunch of people come here to watch. I know they were pretty excited to watch hockey again,” he says. “I wanted to make sure it was a good game for everybody. Make sure it was a good home opener.”
The Kelowna Chiefs sit at 2-2 after four games. Rookie James Hooton of Winnipeg, has four of the Chiefs’ 13 goals. Hooton also has a game-winning goal. Goalie Frederik Larochelle has both wins with a .925 save percentage.
The Posse won one of three road games over the Thanksgiving weekend. They began their trip with a 5-4 loss to the 100 Mile House Wranglers. They were the other team involved in two shutout wins. They rebounded to defeat the Sicamous Eagles 3-0 on Oct. 9. And on Thanksgiving Day, they were in Osoyoos to play the Coyotes, losing 3-0.
The North Okanagan Knights remain winless after three games, losing 5-3 to Kamloops and 3-1 to the Steam. Against the Storm, the Knights had a 2-0 lead after the first period. The Knights have managed five goals and are led by Armstong’s Devin Jameson in points with three.