The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League 2021-22 season begins Oct. 1. Leading into the season we are providing previews on each of the teams.
Next up are the Chase Heat in the Doug Birks Division. The Heat under Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Brad Fox won two of their three games prior to the cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key Returnees: F- Jacob Biensch, D-Matthew Poole.
Biensch led the Heat in scoring with three goals and nine points in three games. Those totals were strong enough to place him second among the KIJHL scoring leaders. Poole, an Edmonton native who will turn 20 on Oct. 8, was with the La Ronge Ice Wolves in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, but didn’t see action in the short regular season. In his junior rookie season with the Heat, he had 19 points in 45 games in 2019-20.
Rookie to Watch: “The potential is there for it to be a really solid group of guys that can play in this league, contribute in this league under our identity,” says Fox, who isn’t ready to put a spotlight on any specific player. “There is a learning curve to see how far they can take it and what they can become.”
Fox added if they are good as a group, then individually, those guys “that have a skillset and a talent, are going to shine.”
Fox likes the players they’ve signed during the off-season because they are leaders.
“The majority of our guys wore letters on their minor hockey teams,” he says. “They’ve got leadership qualities in them which really bonds well into our identity. They bought in. They are we thinkers and that’s special.”
Season outlook: “We have a really strong cultured older group that has a lot of potential. Now we’re going to find out where we are going to take it forward from here. Through the course of the exhibition season, we have to establish an identity and we’re going to do that over the next three weeks.”
Fox says his group will be a pressure team. They put a lot of emphasis on tempo and being disciplined in that structure.
“If we execute the basics and the fundamentals as a team, together collectively well, the big things come easy,” says Fox.
Coach’s quote: “I like that we’re committed. I see we’ve got a lot of energy. I remember playing against Beaver Valley in the league finals five, six years ago. The one thing that was really evident to me in those teams, the Revelstoke teams, the teams that I’ve had in the past, when you have 23 or 25 that are a mirror of each other in how they play, under a very well structured system, that’s hard to beat. I think we have the culture and foundation of that.”
(D) Malachi Franklin: La Ronge Ice Wolves (SJHL)
(F) Trevor Kennedy: North Battleford (SJHL)