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 Kelowna Chiefs. The Chiefs finished second in the Bill Ohlhausen division with 26 wins in 42 games. They qualified for the KIJHL Teck Cup playoffs, losing in five games to Summerland.
Here’s a look at their new wave of rookies with insight from Head Coach Travers Rebman.
Forward, Calgary Royals U18
Jugnauth produced 12 goals and 22 points in 27 games last season. Jugnauth committed after attending spring camp.
“He is a pesky player with a great engine. He has some skill that leads us to believe he will be able to produce at this level and he has already shown that in preseason. He is a great kid as well, so we are excited to have him in the fold.”
Forward, RHA Kelowna U17
Last season he produced 22 points in 26 games. A walk-on at main camp after being offered spots by other KIJHL teams, “we appreciated that he wanted to play in Kelowna.”
“He has some nice skills and can really shoot the puck. We know we have to find him more opportunities to shoot and expect if we can do that he will be a productive player and a really interesting player for Junior A teams to watch being that he’s only 17. On top of it, he’s the type of player that has some bite to his game which fits nicely with us.”
Defenceman, CAC Canadians U18
Ouellette produced 12 points in 31 games last season.
“We expect big things from him and saw a huge improvement from his first game to the next three to four. He is super coachable and can play the game any way you want – physical, skill, moving pucks, he can shoot too so we are excited about what he will be by year-end based on what he is already contributing.”
Forward, West Kelowna U18
Morcom had 13 points in 11 games last season and had been on our radar for a while as a local product.
“He’s still very young at 17 so there’s plenty of ceiling. He’s a guy that finds his way into the scoring one way or another and you get a consistent effort. He has deceiving speed and a knack for finishing on top of also being a great kid in the room. We believe he will surprise some people with his production and look forward to what he will bring this year.”
|Dain Levesque – Defenceman – Central Zone Rockets U18AA | Zach McCormick, Forward | Jaxson Boettcher, Forward
All three were part of the undefeated Rockets that won provincials convincingly last season. They also played games as affiliate players for the Chiefs so there is confidence in what they bring.
“Dain is smooth skating defeceman that has elite level puck protection. His speed allows him to get in deep on the offence and still recover easily. He can slot anywhere 1-6 on the D-core which is pretty hard to do as a rookie, so we expect him to impress the Chiefs fans.”
“Zach is a pretty skilled player and plays about twice his size. He’s already got a couple solid hits this preseason and with some more time we expect he will be nicely productive. He will block shots and kill penalties as well.”
“Jaxson is a bigger body who will be difficult to play against especially when he dials in some more defensive skill and learns a bit more. He is a guy that can play now and has a high ceiling while being coachable so that’s exciting. He can finish plays and is team-first no matter what.”
Forward, Central Zone Rockets U18AA
Dominik Dominquez is another member of the Rockets team that ran the table last year. He had 16 points in 20 games.
“He has some offensive flair and is fun to watch. He’s also a great kid that was fun getting to know in the off-season skates. It’s a heavy league so he still needs to adjust, but when he does, we expect he will put up some points.”
Defenceman, Bishop College School Varsity
Playing in 46 games in three leagues, Forest had 10 points. Forest comes from the same school as goalie Fred Larochelle in Quebec.
“We were impressed with his mobility and puck moving ability. He’s not the most physical player, but he makes up for it in recovering pucks and containing players with his skating. We see some power-play time in his future. He’s got that instinct to walk the blueline immediately and get shots through and make plays. I’m sure Freddy appreciates the odd conversation “en Francais” as well with Ludo around.”
Forward, RHA Kelowna U18
Peitsch played last season under Byron Ritchie with RHA so we had the opportunity to see him develop. He produced six points in 30 games.
“He has added a great deal to his skating and skill in the last year and has had an impact in the lineup already. He’s also a guy that may end up in the penalty box a few times and there’s not gonna be many guys excited to play against him after a few games. If he continues the trend at only 17 years old, we expect to see him in a KIJHL Step Up post at some point.”
Forward, West Van Academy U18
Kirkness produced 20 points in 31 games and became an obvious commit out of spring camp. He returned from a Junior A camp, but other programs in the area may take an interest.
“He is a man at 18, incredibly solid, the type of guy that hurts you when you try to hit. He skates very well and we think we can add to that and give him some more options in his offensive puck possession skills that will make him a real force. He shoots heavily and passes with pace in addition to being a solid team guy, so we are happy he is here.”