KIJHL Notebook: Team improvements


In this week’s KIJHL Notebook, we’ve continued to focus on how teams are playing, especially from the previous weekend and moving forward. And there is news on a KIJHL team helping the Princeton Posse.


Doug Birks Division

The Kamloops Storm defeated Summerland and North Okanagan on the weekend, then lost in overtime to Revelstoke on the road this week. Head Coach Geoff Grimwood likes that his players are committed to what they are trying to do as a program and have a team-first attitude.

The recent loss of Mason Svarisc to Nipawin in the SJHL left a hole in their lineup, but the program takes pride in moving players on and it creates opportunity for others.

Peyton Kelly is a player who we think can fill that void. He is a very good player for us who wasn’t finding the net earlier in the year, but I think is starting to find it,” says Grimwood. “He can slide into that centremen slot and continue to do a good job for us. We are also seeing a few more players starting to chip in offensively from our third and fourth lines. Our last three games we have scoring from different parts of our lineup so it is great to see that.” 


The Revelstoke Grizzlies picked up a win on Tuesday against Kamloops and take on Chase and Sicamous on Saturday and Sunday. They are riding a six-game winning streak and are 8-2 in their last 10 games. Porter Trevelyan leads the team with seven goals and nine points. Brandon Kasdorf, who returned to the organization from Junior A hockey, has six points in six games and is currently on a three-game point streak.

“Now at 20, where it took him two months to get going a couple years ago, he’s hitting the ground running and starting where he left off. It’s great to have him back in,” says Grizzlies Head Coach and General Manager Ryan Parent of Kasdorf, shortly after he returned to Revelstoke.


The Chase Heat last played on Friday, losing to the Osoyoos Coyotes. They have seven wins in 14 games and are 4-3-3 in their last 10 games. The Heat are led offensively by Jacob Biensch with 16 points. This weekend they play Sicamous and Revelstoke.


The 100 Mile House Wranglers earned a split on the weekend shutting out North Okanagan, then being shut out by Sicamous. Head Coach and General Manager Dale Hladun says he was disappointed overall with their lack of commitment to systems, and lack of battle.

“Wrangler hockey has been based on being a tough team to play and we have just not reached that level,” says Hladun. “It’s been a little frustrating that way, but I do have good kids. They are learning. The bright side is, there is upside.”

The Wranglers are also dealing with losing Colton Thon, who sustained a shoulder injury and has decided to stop playing after having trouble with both shoulders. Maguire Ratzlaff has signed with the Melville Millionaires of the SJHL. He had five points in six games.

“He’s a hard-working kid. He was fantastic on the penalty-kill,” says Hladun. “When we played Revelstoke (late October), he and Bohmer got two short-handed goals on that same penalty kill. He’s just a great team guy. He brings out the pace in every practice. He is going to do well in Saskatchewan.”

The Wranglers were supposed to play Princeton on Friday, but that game has been moved to Sunday, Nov. 27 at the Logan Lake Recreational Centre for 4:15 p.m. Due to what is happening in Princeton, where Hladun coached, they are going there anyway.

“Over the last weekend, during our two home games,  we’ve collected donations of non-perishables to take to Princeton and we’re still collecting. Hopefully we will have a trailer full of stuff to bring down for those that are in trouble – needing blankets and some groceries.”

They plan to arrive early on Friday and have a work day to help the community in any way that is needed.

“We’re pretty excited because the Cariboo area is really buying in. I’m excited we can take some stuff down and help the people in Princeton, just like they have done in the past for the Cariboo during the wildfires.”


On Sunday, the Sicamous Eagles picked up a 3-0 shutout win over the Wranglers with three lines. The Eagles are 3-7 in their last 10 games. General Manager Ron Sleeman says the guys are feeling good about themselves.

“The team is starting to gel. They are learning how to play for 60 minutes,” he says. 

The group learned to play through adversity and had two forwards (Jordan Radke and Alex Smith) playing defence, and Sleeman says they did extremely well. 

The good news for the Eagles is they are starting to get players back from injuries and there is excitement about what the team can do. Dmitry Dyskin scored his first KIJHL goal.

“He felt so good after the game,” says Sleeman. “We expect more from him as he’s a very good playmaker and not just a playmaker, he can shoot the puck. He loves the backhand.”


Bill Ohlhausen Division

The Osoyoos Coyotes have won their last two games and are 7-2-0-1 in their last 10.

Head Coach Carter Rigby says they’ve had a couple tough road games in Revelstoke and Sicamous and regrouped after that to take three of four points.

“It was a good wakeup call for our group to know that we’re not invincible,” says Rigby as they had not lost in regulation time before. “Our big boys are playing well, the Jack Henderson line, Alex Ochitwa, and whether it’s Ethan O’Rourke, or Ethan McKinley that are playing well.”

Rigby likes that the team is hard to play against and that they are showing up every night.  New goaltender Kenny Gerow has impressed making massive saves. In three games, Gerow has two wins with a 1.62 goals against average and .925 save percentage. 


The Summerland Steam have lost their last two games, but are 7-3-0 in their last 10.

Head Coach and General Manager Mark MacMillan feels his young team has been playing OK of late, noting they are having a tough time having the stronger starts they want. He added they are still learning the lesson that it takes 60 minutes to win. 

He has been impressed by the entire team and MacMillan says guys have grown in different ways since he joined the organization. 


The Kelowna Chiefs lost Wednesday night to Osoyoos and are 3-6-1-0 in their last 10 games. Head Coach Travers Rebman has talked to his team about discipline and being focused on their game. They play Kamloops and Princeton, who Rebman says have good special teams so they are focused on staying out of the box. Last weekend’s win over Osoyoos gave the group confidence that they can play with the top teams.

“It is just one game in a stretch where we have been really inconsistent, so until we can string that level of play together consistently, we won’t get too excited about it,” he says.


Winless in their last two games, the North Okanagan Knights are 4-4-2-0 in their last 10 games. Head Coach and General Manager Liam McOnie says against 100 Mile House they didn’t do a good enough job attacking the inside and were too comfortable playing in the perimeter.

“In our game against Kamloops, I thought we did a better job of creating chances in the offensive zone off the cycle and finding open guys in the slot,” says McOnie. 


Due to the flooding in Princeton, the Posse last played Nov. 19 in Summerland, losing 3-1. They are 2-6-2-0 in their last 10 games and play next on Saturday in Summerland against the North Okanagan Knights. Head Coach Mark Readman felt his team played pretty well against Summerland, whose goalie played exceptionally well in Readman’s opinion making some outstanding saves. He felt his team was able to push the pace and played strong defensively. In a unique situation playing home games in Summerland and Logan Lake, Readman says the message this week is “there has been so much external things we have had to devote some energy to and time to that was ultimately bigger than hockey.”

“We’re one of these organizations where we don’t have a ton of local players,” says Readman. “We have done our work, we have stepped up and helped the community  and we will continue to do so. At the same time, we also want to make sure we are spending the right amount of energy and focus on why ultimately players have come this far to be junior hockey players.” 

Readman says this weekend there are crucial points to be earned, especially in what he calls a four-point game against the North Okanagan Knights. This season, the Posse has two wins and an overtime loss against the Knights. Readman wants to show everyone that their record is “not indicative of the quality group that we have here.”

The Posse will have Daniel Thiessen and Mason Mowat back in the lineup from an injury. 


Eddie Mountain Division

The Columbia Valley Rockies finished with a split as they defeated the Grand Forks Border Bruins, then lost to the Kimberley Dynamiters and have 11 wins in 18 games. Rockies Head Coach Briar McNaney said in those games his team came out of its shell offensively.

I felt that we got complacent Saturday night, so we are hoping that is a good wake up call for the boys to work hard enough to maintain our expectations as a group,” says McNaney.

Gareth Nicholas and Kayde Kinaschuk were praised by McNaney as they have been playing very well defensively “and it goes to show that a commitment to defensive play will create offensive opportunities.”

“The offensive production is always nice, but they bring so much more to the table on a team than just putting up points,” he says.


The Kimberley Dynamiters swept their weekend games starting with Castlegar and finishing against Columbia Valley. Dynamiters Head Coach and General Manager Derek Stuart has liked their ability to identify lulls and work their way out of them. 

“Our team defence continued to be excellent,” he says. “When you give up just two goals in two games, you’re going to have a lot of success.”

Rookie Christian Mealey is smart with the puck and was able to score a big PP goal on Saturday. Stuart says Tyler Russell has been one of their best players over the last three to four weeks and is having an impact on the outcome of games. 

The Dynamiters roster has received a jolt with the return of local product Cam Reid back from the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks. Reid chose to return for his own reasons.

“He would still be playing in the best Junior A league in Canada if he wanted to be,” says Stuart. “We expect him to be the best defenceman in the league and from what I’ve seen thus far that is a very reasonable expectation.” 


The Creston Valley Thunder Cats have won their last two games against Grand Forks and Golden, improving to 11 wins in 17 games. Head Coach and General Manager Bill Rotheisler says his team had good moments, but they are working on being better daily.

“The games are just a showcase of the work that is put in much prior to that.  It’s nice to win games, but we are always just working on our next peak, and becoming better at what we do on a daily basis, regardless of game day or not,” says Rotheisler. “The guys have done a great job so far in this process, increasing their expectations of themselves in regards to standard of play and work ethic.”

Having been their best defensive player, Rotheisler says it’s not a coincidence that Tyler Badger put up four points. Badger tracks the puck well in his zone and his line with Denon Bamber and Reece Nelson is the Thunder Cats best at maintaining possession. Harmon Laser-Hume’s strong performance caught the attention of the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks. In five games, Laser-Hume has one win with an .874 save percentage and 3.40 goals against average.



Including last weekend, the Golden Rockets have won one of their last three games. Rockets Head Coach and General Manager Chuck Wight feels his team played better on the weekend and they can build off that. Their loss to Creston Valley on Tuesday came in overtime after overcoming a 3-1 deficit.

We played a good up-tempo game on Friday and played a more disciplined game on Saturday,” says Wight. 

Drayden Gibson and Brydon Foster enjoyed strong weekends and made an impact on the specialty teams. 

“Mike O’Sullivan was strong again in net making some key saves at important times in the games,” added Wight.


The Fernie Ghostriders lost both their games on the weekend against Golden and Castlegar, who clawed back from a 3-1 deficit to earn a road win. The Ghostriders are 5-4-0-1 in their last 10 games and open the weekend against the Rockies, who they have won the first game of their season series. Kort Kisinger leads the Ghostriders in points with 10 and has been playing extremely well according to Head Coach and General Manager Ty Valin.

Valin says is finding his “offensive touch.” Ethan MacDuff has also started to produce first-year player Kolby Hennessy is fitting in well. Valin says he keeps “elevating every weekend.”

Goalie McCoy Bidewell had joined the Cowichan Valley Capitals as an affiliate player. In two games, Bidwell has a .904 save percentage with a 4.00 goals against average. Bidewell will remain with the Capitals after signing with the BCHL organization.


Neil Murdoch Division

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks enter the weekend fresh from a sweep of the Nelson Leafs. Nitehawks Head Coach and General Manager Terry Jones liked how his team committed to play strong defence, blocked shots and were great on the penalty kill. The importance of those wins is that it restores confidence in what the team is doing with extra effort, positivity and belief.

“Our goaltenders Owen Albers and Kevin Engman were both outstanding in each win,” he says. “They were calm, composed and a steady presence leading our back end.”


The Nelson Leafs look to rebound after losses to the Nitehawks. Leafs Assistant Coach Adam DiBella felt they outplayed Beaver Valley in the first game, but said their goalie was the best player and the Nitehawks were hungrier at the net.

Lane Goodwin was dynamite on the penalty kill during the weekend and DiBella says he’s the best two-way player in this league. 

Tyson Lautard was solid as well. He is dynamic in his ability to control the pace of the game,” he added.

Following a slow start, Bennett Anklewich has come on strong the last month and brings a high hockey IQ. He is fourth on the team with nine points in 16 games.


The Castlegar Rebels picked up a split earning a win over the Ghostriders after losing to Kimberley to improve to seven wins in 16 games. Head Coach Arnie Caplan says it was an up and down weekend for his group. In Fernie, the Rebels overcame a rough first half and “managed to grind out a win.”

Caplan says that Griffen Ryden has been phenomenal.

“He’s playing like a man possessed. He has just been all over the ice,” says Caplan of Ryden, who is tied for the KIJHL lead in goals with 15 in 14 games. “He is playing a 200-foot game. He has been doing it all for us and is killing penalties, he’s been good on the power-play, he’s just been a huge force in our lineup. He’s really tough to handle when he gets going.”


The Grand Forks Border Bruins picked up their first points of the season in a shootout loss to Golden, in which Hunter Davis scored with a second remaining in regulation to force overtime. Against Creston Valley, they erased a 3-1 deficit to lose in overtime.


Head Coach and General Manager Dave Hnatiuk liked that his players competed hard each game and didn’t give up.

“It was nice to see some resiliency from our group,” he says. “Our PK was pretty solid again and both nights it was a team effort to get us a point in each of those games. Friday night in Columbia Valley started out OK, but a 45-second lapse late in the first period cost us two goals and took the wind out of our sails.”

Hnatiuk liked how goalies Justin Dueck and Ethan Shebansky played. Hunter Wood enjoyed a four-point weekend.

“Hunter Wood came alive this past weekend after being out with injuries,” says Hnatiuk. “He is a fast skater, who plays physical and has a great shot. When he is playing to his strengths, he is a solid presence in our lineup.”