KIJHL Notebook

The KIJHL's top-two point producers take a moment together during a break in action between their Golden Rockets and Creston Valley Thunder Cats. Bill Pringle Photography


From Nov.6-13, six goalies recorded shutouts including both Princeton Posse netminders. Jozef Kuchaslo of the Revelstoke Grizzlies leads with three shutouts, which is one away from matching what he recorded last season in 16 games. Right behind Kuchaslo with two shutouts is his teammate Owen Albers, Ethan Rau of the Posse and Trystan Self of the Kimberley Dynamiters. Rau leads all rookie netminders in that category and is followed by now former teammate Nate Glenn, who was traded to the Columbia Valley Rockies, Damon Cunningham of the Sicamous Eagles, Nelson Leaf Jasper Tait and North Okanagan Knight Austin Seibel with one each.

Now let’s get into each team in this week’s KIJHL Notebook.

Eddie Mountain Division

The Dynamiters have six wins in their last 10 games and three of those came against division leaders Revelstoke, Grand Forks and Columbia Valley. Head Coach & GM Derek Stuart liked how his team managed the puck and controlled the majority of both games on the weekend, especially on Friday, “when our opponent barely touched the puck all game.”

Recent acquisition Devin McNair has played two games after coming over from the Sicamous Eagles and Stuart liked how he performed. 

“Devin has been very good in his first few games with us. We really like how smart he is,” said Stuart. “His positioning is excellent and he consistently makes the right play with the puck.”

Netminders Trystan Self and Matt Fleet only allowed three goals on 75 shots and Stuart said they have been playing great lately. 

“Both Fleet is doing a great job pushing Self, and Self is showing why he is the league’s best goalie. Both are giving us an excellent chance to win every game,” added Stuart.

Kayde Kinaschuk led the Columbia Valley Rockies with three points, all assists in three games last week. The Calgary, Alberta product now has eight goals and 18 points in 15 games, which puts him fourth on the team, while averaging 1.20 points-per-game. Anthony Domina led the Rockies with two goals and 23 points in 14 games to lead the team and has nine goals.
The Rockets have won seven of their last 10, and earned victories in both their games last weekend, led by Jordan Lario who had three goals and five points in their win over Creston Valley. Head Coach & GM Chuck Wight liked that in their first game they played disciplined, not taking a penalty. In their second game, they found a way to “grind it out” and earn a shootout win. 

“It was two different styles of games that we found a way to win both,” said Wight. “We prefer to get that transition game and the forecheck going. We know we’re a tough team to play against and that was a very consistent way we played through the weekend on five-on-five.”

What Wight liked about Lario’s performance is that he makes good reads offensively once space is created through his speed or the work of his linemates.

“That is where he has really improved his game quite a bit. He has always had it in him,” said Wight. “It’s something that he’s doing quite well with this year.” 

Wight said Lario’s offensive production comes back to the time he put in training, which he talked about in Top Shelf – The KIJHL Podcast

“It’s about going to that next level and he’s very motivated to get some attention from some universities,” said Wight. “He’s always been a natural leader.”

Wight also noted they continue to receive solid play from goalie Levi Hall and defenceman Ethan Aebly has been great with producing as he had four assists in two games, while playing strong defensively. Aebly leads their blueline with 20 points in 18 games, which has him third on the team in points.

Ethan MacDuff led the Ghostriders with three goals and four points last week as they earned two points in three games. On Tuesday, they dealt goaltender Reed McLennan to the Grand Forks Border Bruins and on Wednesday signed goalie Aiden Kruhalk, who was with the Drayton Valley Thunder and played three games. Kruhalk will share the crease with Rodney Hanson.
Luke Chakrabarti and Campbell McLean combined for nine points in three games for the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. Chakrabarti now leads the Thunder Cats with 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points in 16 games. That total also has him second overall in the league. McLean has six goals and 18 points in 13 games. After coming over in a trade from Fernie, Taylor Schmideder scored his first goal as a Thunder Cat in their 5-4 OT loss to Kamloops.
Neil Murdoch Division
Tyson Tokarz had two goals and four points to help the Grand Forks Border Bruins collect three of six points on their East Kootenay road trip to Kimberley, Golden and Fernie. Head Coach & GM Dave Hnatiuk said leading up to their game against Kimberley, a group of players were ill and noted that Friday “wasn’t a great night”  playing shorthanded most of the game and gave up six power-play goals on 11 opportunities. They put Friday behind them and picked up their game, losing in a shootout. On Sunday against Fernie, they earned a 7-0 win against what Hnatiuk thought was a tired Ghostriders team.

“I’ll take three out of six points based on the situation,” he said.

Ray Warrack returned to the club from the SJHL and Hnatiuk said that was huge for them.

“He adds instant depth and he’s very versatile and I can use him in many situations,” said Hnatiuk, adding from a personal perspective he didn’t want to see Warrack return.

Hnatiuk also added Nikita Syerov from Revelstoke, and was a player who attended the Border Bruins/Nanaimo Clippers spring camp. Hnatiuk said Syerov is finding his groove and a role.

“He plays with a lot of fire, he’s a competitive guy and plays with some speed, he’s a good skater,” said Hnatiuk. “He has been playing just fine.”

Johnny Carmichael led the Nelson Leafs with five points in two games helping them collect four points on the weekend. The Leafs allowed two goals in both games combined as Jasper Tait earned his first junior hockey shutout in a 22-save performance. Carmichael is second on the Leafs with 13 points in 13 games and has scored six of his seven goals on the power-play. Tait has now won six of his 10 starts.
Nathan Dominici and Beau Manegre led the Beaver Valley Nitehawks with seven points combined in two games, which the Nitehawks didn’t collect a point. The Nitehawks have five wins in their past 10 games. Dominici and Manegre have 19 and 16 points respectively, to lead the team.
Castlegar Rebels Head Coach & GM Arnie Caplan has his team focused on scoring more goals heading into the weekend. Their 42 goals are the fewest in the division and third lowest in the league.

“That has been our deficit this year is putting the puck in the net,” he said. 

The return of Nathan Dann from the SJHL helps as he has three goals and six points in eight games. He led with three assists in two games last weekend.

“I think he is going to give us some spark,” said Caplan. “He’s starting to play really well and is definitely going to help us in that department. Guys really look up to him as they see what he brings to the table as far as his compete level and his scoring ability. It’s a big lift to our team and he is going to rub off on a lot of guys.”

Ravnoor Randhawa was added from Fernie and played his first game on Sept. 23. Since joining, the Calgary product has four assists in nine games.

“He’s a big guy that moves well and he’s capable of playing in all situations,” said Caplan. “He’s a very likeable team player that brings a certain kind of mojo to the team. He’s been pretty good. He’s still learning, he’s still gaining experience. He has done well.”

Caplan added Randhawa can win battles and provides a bit of offence and has the ability to be a good shutdown defender.

Bill Ohlhausen Division
The Posse had a five-game win streak snapped on Tuesday in a 3-2 loss to Kelowna. Last weekend the Posse were led by Anmol Garcha, who had a goal and five points in two games, and was named the Top Forward for the Instat KIJHL 3 Stars of the Week, while Ty Olsen had two goals and four points in two games. Garcha scored his second goal in the loss to Kelowna.

The players feel they have been pretty good and consistent with their play.

“We had a tough loss last night, but we will be able to bounce back. We’ve got a pretty resilient group and the guys are great,” said Garcha.

Since his return from the SJHL, Garcha said it has been tough getting back into things as he got injured the first day of camp with the La Ronge Ice Wolves. It took time for him to recover from his injury and now he is rebuilding his conditioning and has enjoyed being back in Princeton. Contributing offensively is important to Garcha and he likes that he has been moving his feet, which is key to his game. 

On Wednesday, the Posse made a pair of deals moving the rights to goalie Nathaniel Glenn to the Columbia Valley Rockies for defenceman Roan Girard, then dealt forwards Vin Jackson and Andrew Karam to the Ghostriders for Dayton Nelson.

Carter Yarish has three goals and six points to lead the Osoyoos Coyotes in offence up to Nov. 13. The Prince George product also leads the Coyotes with 24 points in 13 games and is the leader in assists with 19.

“He just has great vision on the ice. Most of his points are assists, and he just seems to find guys or he puts good shots on the net that are going to be there for rebounds,” he said. “Who doesn’t like a guy who can play on your first line and produce non-stop. He’s great, we’re still working a little bit on his defensive side, but when you are putting up numbers, that kind of takes the defence into account.”

Law is seeing improvement in Yarish’s defensive game, working hard coming back into the defensive zone. Yarish has also been very strong in the faceoff circle.

“We just started moving him into the middle just for the draws because outside speed is his biggest game,” said Law. “Just noticed him in practice he would take draws and he gets down into a nice position and he has good control of his stick and he is strong. If guys are going to try to lift him they are going to lose that battle every time.”

Kent Moors led the Summerland Steam with four points in two games and now leads the team with 19 points in 17 games. Connor Nicolay added two assists. The Steam has won four of their last 10 games. 
Brodie Pearson collected three assists in the Knight’s win over Castlegar, while Luke Rishaug and Jake Watson each had two goals. Watson has five points in his last four games and has 10 on the season. Austin Seibel made 37 saves for the win, his sixth of the season.
The Kelowna Chiefs snapped a 15-game winless streak with their 3-2 win over the Posse on Tuesday. Dain Levesque and Max Jugnauth led the Chiefs with three points last weekend. Jaxson Rebman netted the winner against the Posse on the power-play and Caleb Muri made 39 saves for his second win of the season.
Doug Birks Division
Luke Aston led the Grizzlies with three goals and four points in three games last week, while Jozef Kuchaslo had two wins, including a shutout and Owen Albers earned the other win. Kuchaslo had a .964 SP with a 1.00 GAA. Grizzlies Assistant Coach Jiri Novak said in their last two games the team has finally clicked on 5-on-5 and hadsome scoring chances on the power-play.

“We were better last week against Kelowna and got some goals 5-on-5,” said Novak, adding they had problems with their entry to create chances. “We just made bad decisions with the puck. Now we are playing more simple hockey and using our speed and the body to protect the puck. We are driving the net more and that is the reason we have more chances.”

Novak is happy to see Aston produce, and added he is more effective when playing a simple game.

“He’s getting there, but he needs more consistency,” he added.

Newcomer David Coyle, acquired from the North Vancouver Wolf Pack in the PJHL, started the season in the SJHL with the Melfort Mustangs. He has three points in six games with the Grizzlies. 

“We saw him play last year in the PJHL and knew that he has some skills,” said Novak. “Now it’s more about him adjusting to the structure and physicality of our league. We believe that he can contribute offensively and on the power-play.”

Coyle put up 58 points in 42 games with the Wolf Pack.

“He has really good hockey sense and vision. He can make plays,” says Novak.

Aiden Kalin and Nicholas Hughes led the Eagles with three points each last weekend. Head Coach & GM Nick Deschenes said Kalin has been working on his offensive game as it’s one of his strengths.

“The more he pays attention to his plays without the puck, he will have even more success,” he said. “We talked about how usually you get one good chance a game and it’s capitalizing on that opportunity. He’s starting to do that, connect with that.”

Deschenes said Hughes is a very “heady player who is starting to understand the league, starting to see where he has more opportunities with the puck and more plays that could be made.”

“He is starting to look for those and make them,” added Deschenes. “I think that is attributing to his success and being more comfortable as a first-year player and not being afraid to look for that extra play instead of bouncing the puck in for example.”

On Oct. 29, Hughes played a season high 24:44 against the Posse and averages 21:47 of ice-time a game.

Deschenes said a lot of his players are trying to figure out how to compete consistently and for success in what he sees as a stronger league from the year before. 

“No game is easy and we just can’t take a night off,” said Deschenes. “The importance of developing and climbing the ladder of the next level or having success here, has got to be an every day thing. As a group we are pretty well balanced up front and we’ve gotten good goaltending.”

Deschenes added their defence is getting tighter as the season goes and our team is getting better as well. 

Goalie Colton Phillips-Watts rejoined the Kamloops Storm from the Junior A level. The 19-year-old picked up a couple wins against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats and made 36-saves in a 2-1 shootout win over Columbia Valley. Phillips-Watts had a .929 SP with a 2.35 GAA. Cody Creasy also had two wins in three games with a .912 SP and a 2.00 GAA. Creasy has five wins on the season. Defenceman Devin Benson also returned from Junior A and has five points in five games.
The Heat have won five of their last 10 games and have been led offensively by Trevor Kennedy, Carter Spring and Mikkel Hrechka with three points this month in four games. Spring has two goals. Goalies Kael Beauregard and Roderic May each have a win.
The Wranglers have two wins in their past five games, their latest coming Tuesday, 5-1 over the Chase Heat. Curtis Roorda’s first KIJHL goal was the winner, while Ryder Gregga made 23 saves for his second win of the season. As of Nov. 16, Ethan Sanders leads the Wranglers this month with four goals and seven points in five games, while Nathan Bohmer is close behind with six points in five. Rookie Ethan Davey has four points in five games. In three games, Gregga has a .931 save percentage with a 2.37 GAA.