KIJHL Notebook


Kelowna native Maddix McCagherty began his junior hockey career in the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos, who selected him in the 2021 bantam draft in the second round, 25th overall.

The 16-year-old played 13 games and registered four shots. The Kelowna Chiefs announced on January 7 that they added the 5-11, 160-pound forward. Along with watching the Chiefs growing up, McCagherty also played with fellow Chiefs rookie Zach Pietsch with the Rink Hockey Academy U18 team last season, he is also familiar with head coach Travers Rebman and general manager Jason Tansem.

McCagherty says his experience playing in the WHL was “really cool.” 

“It was good to see what high tempo hockey is like,” he said. “It just shows you how hard you have to work and what it takes to get to the next level. In Swift Current, we had a lot of guys drafted to the NHL. I was able to see what they do every day to achieve getting to the next level. I was very lucky to see that and able to work out lots. It was very good for my development.”

Knowing the coaching staff and having played with some of the current players made joining the Chiefs a great option for McCagherty.

There will be more on him in the Chiefs section of the KIJHL Notebook.

Bill Ohlhausen Division

Jalen McRae has enjoyed a stretch of four straight games of playing solid hockey for the Princeton Posse. Head coach Mark Readman credits it to McRae playing the right way.

“He’s hungry, creating some turnovers. He is really starting to trust himself more to make plays, hold onto it a little bit longer and trust his abilities to fend off some defenders,” said Readman. “Last night (Tuesday) he had two points (in a 7-2 win over Osoyoos).”

Another player who has performed really well and is on a 10-game points streak is Sean Mitchell. Readman says he is playing some really good hockey, along with Dayton Nelson, who is on “an absolute tear” since arriving and has 24 points in 15 games. 

“He’s just tenacious in every facet of the ice. He is creating turnovers.”

Jack Henderson, last year’s KIJHL MVP, now leads the Osoyoos Coyotes in points with 63 in 33 games and is two points away from tying his career high from last season. The Quesnel product has four goals and eight assists in his last four games to lead the Coyotes. Ethan McKinley had 11 points, while Coletyn Boyarski had 10. Henderson is five points behind Luke Chakrabarti for the league lead in points, but his points-per-game average is .02 higher than the Creston Valley Thunder Cat.
Kevin Thomas-Walters had three goals and two assists in his past five games to lead the North Okanagan Knights. Defenceman Adam Bourgeois had a goal and three assists. Maguire Nicholson had two goals in two games.
Kent Moors and newcomer Luke Rothfos led the Summerland Steam with five points in five games. Moors led with three goals.
McCagherty has seven points in seven games with the Chiefs. On January 20 against Osoyoos, McCagherty scored his first hat-trick and has led the team with six points in his last five games. McCagherty said it felt pretty good to get the hat-trick.

“I thought I played decently and my first two games I was struggling a little bit with my confidence,” he said. “I’m starting to gain my confidence back and am able to make the moves I’m used to. I’m a playmaking forward and I like making the players around me better. I like to pass, keep my options open and to be hard to play against. I love competing, I really like winning and doing whatever it takes to win.”

Doug Birks Division
In their last five games, Carter Bettenson leads the Revelstoke Grizzlies with eight points. Grizzlies head coach-GM Ryan Parent says for a 20-year-old, his game is getting better.

“His play away from the puck and how hard he is playing, especially with more responsibility has led to him producing more,” said Parent. “His attention to the defensive details have allowed them to spend more time in the offensive zone and when he’s gotten opportunities, he has made the most of them.”

Rookie defenceman Kesler Fyfe has really come on. The Lethbridge native has contributed more offensively and has four goals and five points in his last five games. His play has also earned him time on specialty teams where he has been effective putting up three power-play goals and three assists.

“He’s defensively been more responsible and it’s led to more of an offensive output for him,” said Parent, adding the coaches are trusting Fyfe more to give him time on special teams. Fyfe averages 18:20 of ice time a game. 

Gage Reimer has been very solid for the Sicamous Eagles in the last two to three weeks, posting a .945 save percentage.

“He’s a 20-year-old and since Damon Cunningham left, he’s taken over in net pretty well,” said Eagles head coach-GM Nick Deschenes. “His intensity and focus has gone way up. He has brought real steadiness to our defensive game. We’ve got guys still learning and figuring things out and he’s been able to make saves that sometimes hide our breakdowns and make us look better on paper. We appreciate how he can shut the door.”

Against strong divisional opponents, Reimer is always up to the task and gives them a solid chance to win. Deschenes said, “that’s all you can ask for from a goaltender.”

In his last four games, Branden Toye has led the Kamloops Storm in offence with three goals and an assist, bringing his season totals to seven goals and 10 points in 15 games. Defenceman Brody Johnston was right behind with three points in four games.
Nathan Bohmer, Jace Myers and Ethan Sanders led the 100 Mile House Wranglers with five points in their last six games. Myers and Sanders each had three goals. Tyler Smoluk scored an OT winner against Chase.
Trevor Kennedy, Maddex Bignell and Jalen Davidson each led the Chase Heat with five points. Davidson added three goals, including the winner against Kamloops on Tuesday night.
Eddie Mountain Division
Kayde Kinaschuk has been a very consistent player for the Columbia Valley Rockies. He has gone from being a player with scoring ability to a more complete force.

“He’s blocking more shots, playing in the D-zone and getting more pucks out,” said head coach-GM Emery Olauson. “He’s a really good leader in the room.”

On Tuesday, Kinaschuk recorded his 100th career KIJHL point in his 73rd game. He had two goals and an assist in a 9-2 win over Golden. 

“We’re excited for him to get that feather in his cap. One hundred points is no joke in this league over the course of Kayde’s career,” said Olauson. “We don’t play opponents that don’t notice when Kayde is on the ice and defend a little harder against him.”

In 34 games, Kinaschuk has 22 goals and 26 assists. Last season he led all KIJHL rookies with 54 points in 39 games and finished second overall in the league in points.

Defenceman Cam Reid has led the Kimberley Dynamiters with four points in his last four games. His offensive abilities are well known, says head coach-GM Derek Stuart, but there is more to his game than offence.

“I’m not too sure if many people know how good he is defensively as well without the puck and positionally,” said Stuart. “He runs our power-play, he goes on the penalty-kill as well. He’s elite with the puck and he’s a very good defenceman without the puck.”

Between the pipes, Trystan Self has two wins and a shootout loss in his last three games. Through the season his stats are strong with 16 wins in 26 games to go with a 2.15 GAA and a .926 SP. He shares the league lead in wins.

“He’s been good ever since he came here two years ago, but I think this year has been a little bit more up and down for him compared to last year,” said Stuart. “When he’s on his game, in my opinion, he’s the best goalie I’ve seen in this league. He’s been on his game a lot lately. He’s getting goalie instruction and help from Nathan Lieuwen with the Cranbrook Bucks and it’s helping him a lot.”

The Bucks owner played seven NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres, while most of his pro career was in the AHL with the Rochester Americans.

Stuart notices that Self seems more comfortable since his most recent session. Stuart also noted that defenceman Kasey Miller has taken a jump forward this year offensively and Stuart said he is great defensively and physically. Miller has 16 points in 37 games.

Golden Rockets head coach-GM Chuck Wight says that goalie Levi Hall is getting back into the rhythm with his play. 

“He’s playing much better now after coming back from the break,” said Wight. “He was solid all through the month of October and November.”

Rookie Kylow Monkman has two goals in three games to match Jordan Lario. Monkman dealt with an injury early in the season that slowed how he plays and his progress.

“We’re seeing that player emerge. He can be very strong on the puck and he has a very accurate, heavy shot,” said Wight. “It’s great to see him evolving his game, learning how to play at that tempo and pace.”

Rodney Hanson and Aiden Kruhlak have won four of their last five games for the Fernie Ghostriders. Hanson has two wins with a 0.97 GAA and a .965 SP. Kruhlak has two wins, one by shutout, with a 1.34 GAA and a .960 SP.
In their last six games, Reece Nelson and Luke Chakrabarti have led the Creston Valley Thunder Cats with 11 and 10 points respectively. Nelson has four goals and seven assists, while Chakrabarti has five goals and five assists.
Neil Murdoch Division
As a 17-year-old, Jonah Smith had four goals and 13 points in 42 games in his rookie season last year.

Dave Hnatiuk, the Grand Forks Border Bruins head coach-GM, said he had lots of chances to score last season, but wasn’t able to finish.

This season has been a different story and of late, Smith has impressed his coach with his play. Smith has seven goals and nine points in six games and recently hit the 20-goal mark against the Revelstoke Grizzlies. He now leads the team with 23 goals.

“He seems to be the driver of our offence as of late,” said Hnatiuk. “He is playing in all situations. He’s a 2004-birth year so last year he was a young guy. He keeps getting better and better and I’m really proud of Jonah for the work he is putting in and the results he’s getting because of it.”

Hnatiuk believes his overall maturity and being a student of the game are big factors in Smith’s success. He also possesses a high compete level and has confidence. Smith averages 19 to 21 minutes of ice time per game. 

Ollie Clement has four goals and three assists in his past five games to lead the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. Nathan Dominici has three goals and two assists in four games and leads the team with 36 points in 31 games. Dominici is one assist away from establishing career highs in all offensive categories. He has surpassed the 13 goals he had last season with 22 now.
Since taking over the Nelson Leafs as interim head coach, Briar McNaney says he has seen a lot of resilience from the players. He has seen them show “a great, hard working attitude that I wasn’t expecting.” 

“I’ve really been impressed,” said McNaney. “Everything that I have laid down, it picked up immediately and they have bought in.”

One of the things McNaney wanted to change was the way they broke the puck out of their zone and tweaked some things defensively. He feels the players have grasped the changes quick enough to do it full-time.

“Offensively, we wanted to change a little bit how we score off the rush. We’re hoping that we can get everything dialed in for the playoffs. We are looking forward to seeing how they progress.”

Ryan Quast has led offensively with three goals and four assists in six games, while defenceman Carsyn Crawford has five points in six games. Lucas Byrne also has three goals in his last six games.

The Castlegar Rebels, who have been officially eliminated from qualifying for the playoffs, have been led offensively by Evan Calder who has six assists in five games, while Daytn Kulynych has two goals and two assists. Reid Gerrand and Jace Kramer each had two goals.