Welcome to the first KIJHL Notebook of the 2021-22 season. We feel optimistic about being able to give you snapshots on the teams in this space for an entire season.
There were 110 goals scored over the opening weekend – 50 on opening night and 60 on the second. That means fans had plenty to cheer about.
After sitting out the 2020-21 season, the 100 Mile House Wranglers returned to action with a revamped roster. They hosted the Chase Heat and bowed 5-2 with goals from a pair of rookies – Jayce Myers of Williams Lake and local product Ethan Sanders. Casey Thomson faced 43 shots – 23 in the second period.
“The big positive was Casey, he faced a lot of rubber and gave us a chance,” says Wranglers Head Coach-GM Dale Hladun. “Casey was definitely instrumental in keeping us competitive in that game. I like how local Ethan Sanders played. His game emits leadership. He scored a beautiful goal.”
Like the Wranglers, the Beaver Valley Nitehawks returned to league action winning both their games – 6-5 in a shootout over Nelson and 6-3 against the Grand Forks Border Bruins at home. Rookie Judah Makway from Trail was named the first star for the KIJHL’s 3 Stars of the Week following his five-point weekend.
“It was pretty exciting. We were pretty excited with that win in Nelson,” says Nitehawks coach Terry Jones. “We know with a young team getting on the right track is important. It’s important to build confidence. We felt our first game in Nelson was a pretty well played game. Against Grand Forks, we felt like we learned a lot. We didn’t play well, but we still battled hard and found a way to win and that’s a nice sign. We had contributions from lots of different players and that’s a great sign.”
Under new Head Coach-GM Arnie Caplan, the Castlegar Rebels came away with a point in two games. They opened the season on the road, losing to the Golden Rockets 3-1, and earned a point in a 5-4 in overtime loss to the Columbia Valley Rockies. They gave up the winning goal 1:15 into overtime. Griffen Ryden, who was brought back from Campbell River, leads the team with three points. He had 16 goals and 26 points in 28 games with the Rebels in 2019-20.
The Chase Heat are one of four teams to start 2-0. They opened the season at home with a 4-1 win over the Sicamous Eagles, then defeated the Wranglers 5-2. Grande Prairie’s Aiden Brown leads the team with three goals and four points. Rookie goalie Jack Osmond has played both games putting up solid numbers with 38 saves on 41 shots with a .927 save percentage and a 1.50 goals against average. In a full season of action, the Edmonton native went 11-4-2 for the CAC Canadians U18AA team in 2019-20 with a .930 SPCT.
The Columbia Valley Rockies are 1-2 to start. They were doubled 4-2 up by the Golden Rockets on the road. Their offensive leaders are a pair of rookies in Reed Sparrow at forward, who scored the OT winner against the Rebels, and defenceman Tyson Tisdale, who has three points in two games. Bryson Monych is tied with Sparrow for the team lead in goals with two.
The Creston Valley Thunder Cats earned a split in their first two games. They opened the season at home with a 4-0 victory over the Fernie Ghostriders. Harmon Laser-hume, named the KIJHL’s third star, turned aside all 34 shots he faced. On Saturday at home, the Thunder Cats lost 5-2 to the Kimberley Dynamiters. Sheldon Kwiatkowski is tied with rookie Adam Redding for the team lead in points with three. Rookie defenceman Ethan Boutcher and Reece Nelson lead with two goals.
The Fernie Ghostriders opened the season with a pair of losses under new Head Coach-GM Ty Valin. Tanner Chapman, who was picked up from the Rockies, has the lone Ghostriders goal. After opening the season with a 4-0 loss to the Thunder Cats, the Ghostriders lost to the Nelson Leafs 4-1 at the Nelson Community Complex.
The Golden Rockets hosted the Rebels on opening night, earning a 3-1 victory. Rookie Nathan Kaye, from Spruce Grove, Alta., netted the winner. They picked up their second win 4-2 over the Rockies with Connor Funke netting the winner in the second period. Levi Hall and Michael O’Sullivan have earned the wins in goal.
The Grand Forks Border Bruins lost their lone game, 6-3 to the Nitehawks. Hunter Wood leads the team with two points, both assists. Rookie goalie Justin Dueck made 35 saves, 22 in the third period.
New Kamloops Storm Head Coach Geoff Grimwood earned his first win, 7-6 in overtime over the Osoyoos Coyotes. Peyton Kelly, 19, of Kamloops netted a natural hat-trick in the first period, while Hudson Cameron scored the winner at 3:15 of overtime. Quesnel’s Colton Phillips-Watts picked up his first KIJHL win. Phillips-Watts also has a BCHL win on his resume when he played four games for the Merritt Centennials last season. The Storm then lost 3-0 at home to the Revelstoke Grizzlies. Kelly is tied with Harrison Ewert for the team lead in points, with three.
New Kelowna Chiefs Head Coach Travers Rebman started his KIJHL career with a pair of wins over the Princeton Posse, 4-2 and 6-5.
“The owner Jason Tansem messaged to congratulate me Friday in Princeton so that was nice and it sunk in a bit,” says Rebman.
Ty Marchant, named the KIJHL second star for the week, scored the equalizer midway through the third period, then netted the winner with 17 seconds remaining. Alex Edwards potted an empty netter with two seconds remaining. Frederick Larochelle of Brossard, Que., earned both wins, turning aside 70 of 77 shots. Rookie James Hooton leads the Chiefs with two goals and four points.
“What stood out most for me is that we have some nice pieces in place, some guys are already contributing more than we expected, but also how much detail and habits we still need to build into our game,” says Rebman. “I think it’s a product of most of the guys who really haven’t had many games at this level.”
After the opening weekend, the Kimberley Dynamiters have the best goal differential at plus-eight. Calgary product Trystan Self was in net for both games, turning aside 42 of 45 shots. In their opening game against the Rockies, Self turned aside 15 of 16 shots. He has a .933 save percentage to go with a 1.57 goals against average.
The Nelson Leafs earned three of four points to start. The Leafs lost 6-5 in a shootout to the Nitehawks, then rebounded to earn a 4-1 victory over the Ghostriders at home. Rhett Hamilton leads the team with three goals, while rookie defenceman Ryland Mennie has three points. Mennie hit the scoresheet in his first KIJHL game with a goal and an assist. The Leafs penalty-kill was very effective, going 12-for-13.
North Okanagan Knights Head Coach-GM Liam McOnie will head into the weekend looking for his first win on the bench. They opened the season in Sicamous, losing to the Eagles 3-1. Vernon’s Tyler Burke scored his first KIJHL goal, while goalie Jake Dubinsky earned the first star for his 31-save performance.
The Osoyoos Coyotes opened the season with a 7-6 overtime loss to the Storm in a game that saw the lead change a few times. Crae Dawson earned the first star with a three assist performance. At home, hosting the Summerland Steam, Osoyoos jumped out to a 5-1 lead en route to a 7-3 victory. Jack Henderson earned the second star with a three-point effort. Payton McDonald-Corea’s goal in the first period to make it 4-1 ended up being the winner. Kenneth Marquart earned his first KIJHL win making 19 saves.
After taking a 2-1 lead early in the third period of their home opener, the Princeton Posse surrendered the equalizer to Kelowna Chief Ty Marchant, who then gave his team a 3-2 lead with 17 seconds remaining. The Chiefs won 4-2. On the back end of a home-and-home set, Posse lost again, this time 6-5. Rookie Andrew Karam leads the Posse with three points, while another rookie, Jaden Fodchuk leads with two goals.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies opened the season with a 3-0 win over the Storm in Kamloops. Rookie Brandon Gallo scored the first of his two goals in the opening period to earn the first star. Brandon Weare made 20 saves for the shutout.
The Sicamous Eagles lost their first game to the Heat, 4-1 on the road. Ty McNaughton scored the Eagles lone goal, his first in the KIJHL. They bounced back at home to earn a 3-1 win over the North Okanagan Knights, the first victory for Gerald Bouchard. Paison Butler’s first KIJHL goal was the winner in the second period. Gage Reimer was named second star for his 29-save performance to earn his first KIJHL win.
The Summerland Steam lost their opening game on the road to the Coyotes, 7-3. Rookies Haiden Parks, Matt Mansfield and Jackson MacDonald each scored their first KIJHL goal. Rookie Graysen Chell earned the first star as he had two assists. Colton Macaulay, 20, finished with 35 saves.