The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has an exciting new wave of rookie talent entering the 2022-23 season, which begins on Sept. 23. Leading up to the start of the season, we will highlight those players from each team.
Next in the New Wave series are the Kamloops Storm. The Storm placed second in the Doug Birks division last season with 28 wins in 42 games and advanced to the Doug Birks Division Final in the Teck Cup playoffs.
Here’s a look at their new wave of rookies with insight from General Manager Matt Kolle.
Forward, South Anchorage High School
Last season, Willard had 14 goals and 22 points in 19 games. Kolle says the former captain shows maturity off the ice.
“At our camp he filled the net showing an ability and a knack for scoring goals. I think that he’s an offensive piece that will be helpful to us. Last year we struggled to put pucks in the net. Hopefully Wyatt helps us in that area.”
Defenceman, U18 Thompson Blazers
The Salmon Arm native captained his team and had 17 points in 36 games.
“He’s one of those guys that people respect and listen to. He’s got poise on the ice and he’s defensively very strong and can contribute offensively.”
Forward, Burnaby Winter Club
Last season with the Burnaby Winter Club, Phillips-Watts put up 14 goals and 27 points. The Quesnel native is a hard-working, two-way player with a high grit level.
“We expect him to impact our games with his speed, grit and tenacity. He’s the younger brother of Colton, who was a goalie on the team last season. Jake comes to work with his lunch bucket and plays hard.”
Forward, U18 Thompson Blazers AA
Field is a local player who had seven points in 33 games last season.
“He comes from a ranching family and is a workhorse. Over the last off-season, he has been putting in a lot of extra time working to round his game and really become a 200-foot player. He blocks shots, grinds it out in the corners, but one of his assets is his shot. He’s got an elite level shot and we’re hoping that he’s another guy that can put pucks in the net.”
Defenceman, Okanagan Hockey Academy U17 Prep
In 30 games last season, the Prince George native had one assist.
“He is a big, strong, aggressive defenceman and will provide a high level of toughness. He is a defensive defenceman and has been working on his agility and footspeed, so we’re hoping to evolve his game and get him more involved.”
Forward, Thompson Zone U18AA
Mykyte, who played one game with the Chase Heat as an affiliate player last season, has raw talent.
“He’s a big kid, with good size (listed at 6-3, 181 pounds). He skates well and his skillset is ready for our level. There is lots to work with, lots of learning needed on his end. We think as he develops, he’s going to become an impact player on our league just because of his size that he carries.”
Defenceman, Yale Hockey Academy U18 Prep
Aura is from Kamloops and has played the last two years at Yale. Last season Aura had 19 points in 36 games and is an all-around, talented defenceman.
“He is very strong defensively and has a nasty edge on him. If you are going to come to the net, you are going to pay the price. He can jump in offensively and contribute there as well. Owen really plays the game right. We are expecting some big things out of Owen if he doesn’t land in Junior A or the WHL first.”