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 Fernie Ghostriders in the Eddie Mountain Division. The Ghostriders won two of their three games prior to the cancellation of the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19. They head into the season with a new Head Coach-GM in Ty Valin, who takes over from Jeff Wagner, hired by the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express.
Key Returnees: “Everybody is key. I’m a big believer in that,” says Valin. “Everybody is in that dressing room for a reason and plays a role. I’m going to lean on them early into the season a lot harder, especially through training camp and practices. I’ve put responsibility on all of them early on in different ways.”
The Ghostriders have 12 returnees on their roster.
First-Year players to Watch: D- Cole Fisher, D- Hayden Grabas, F- Rylan Cardinal, Kolby Hennessy and Cole Fournier.
Fisher – Ft. Saskatchewan Rangers (AEHL U18AAA) -”He’s a big boy (six-foot-seven, 220 pounds), plays the game hard and is physical. He can shoot the puck and make plays in the offensive zone as well. He is great defensively.”
Cardinal – Ft. Saskatchewan (AEHL U18AAA) – “He’s a power forward and does things the right way. He plays an honest game and goes hard to the net and isn’t afraid to play in the corners.”
Hennessy – Wenatchee (ECEL U18AAA) – Picked up from the Spokane Braves. “He’s a great young player. He’s going to have a lot of good hockey ahead of him. He’s a speedy, skilled forward that can make plays.”
Fournier – Shawnigan (CSSHL U18AAA) – “He’s a very highly skilled forward. He possesses a lot of speed.”
Grabas – EK Avalanche U18AA program – “He’s a quality local kid, is six-foot-one, 170 pounds. He shoots the puck well and makes a good first-pass and isn’t afraid to jump in the rush.”
“Everybody has been fun to watch. They have really embraced making the jump to the Junior level and putting their work boots on when they come to the rink,” says Valin.
Season outlook: “We want to be competitive and brought in people that want to compete every day. The expectation is no nights off. We’re establishing that right now with our group and they have embraced it well.”
Valin likes their leadership so far saying the returning players are excited and ready to go.
“They have been amazing leaders in our dressing room,” says Valin. “They really embraced the new players coming in and welcomed them to the Ghostrider family. Our group is tight because of that.”
Coach’s quote: “They are buying in. They understand what their jobs are and they are learning the new system, the new structure I’m bringing in and they are embracing it. They are not afraid to ask questions and want to learn the game and excel every day. We’re going to learn to play the right way.”
Brady Stange – La Ronge Ice Wolves (SJHL)
Alex Frank – Selkirk Steelers (MJHL)
Sawan Gill – Adrian College (ACHA 1)