Thirteen Kootenay International Junior Hockey League teams have scored in the first minute of a period this season, for a total of 24 goals.
The Columbia Valley Rockies lead with four first-minute goals, followed by the Spokane Braves and Summerland Steam with three. The Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Fernie Ghostriders, Kelowna Chiefs and Nelson Leafs have scored two, while the Princeton Posse, North Okanagan Knights, Kamloops Storm, Kimberley Dynamiters, Creston Valley Thunder Cats and Golden Rockets each have one. Josh Humphreys of the Braves and Kyle Cyr of the Steam are the only players with two first-minute goals.
Now let’s get into this week’s KIJHL Notebook.
Eddie Mountain Division
The Columbia Valley Rockies have seven wins in nine games and goalie Nate Glenn says the group has put together good efforts, but feel they haven’t been “consistent enough yet.”
“When we’re going up against the top-end teams, we’re putting together a good game, we’re playing in our system and doing the right things,” said Glenn, named the Top Goalie in the Hudl Instat KIJHL 3 Stars of the Week. “It’s just on the road, we have to be more consistent out of the gate.”
Last weekend against Creston, he said they were flat in the first and gradually got better. Glenn added that a 3-0 win over Kimberley gave the group “a massive confidence boost.”
On teammates Tysin Mulligan and Carter Velker, who lead the team with 11 points each.
“Mulligan has been an awesome two-way guy. He is doing all the little things and putting points on the board. Velker is a very good two-way forward. He gets into battles, and is doing the right stuff.”
Parker Konneke had a goal and three assists in the Kimberley Dynamiters overtime win over the Castlegar Rebels after they were shutout against the Rockies. Konneke said his weekend started slow with his performance against Columbia Valley.
“I definitely had some pent up anger from losing the night before,” said Konneke. “I let loose against Castelgar and put up four points.”
Konneke said his play this season has been pretty good and he’s been able to produce, with 14 points in eight games.
“I feel like I’m having a good impact on the Dynamiters,” said Konneke, who split last season with Virden in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and Olds in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
Playing in those leagues, which Konneke said are “very high level” taught him to do the little things right. He is mentally better and has improved in keeping his feet moving when playing defensively. He is also playing at a quicker pace and his shot is better.
Max Chakrabarti collected two assists in the Creston Valley Thunder Cats’ games against Castlegar and Columbia Valley over the weekend. The younger brother of Luke liked his play as well as the team.
“There are always things to improve on,” said Max. “I want to make a good first pass, good pinches and be strong defensively.”
Max attended the BCHL Cranbrook Bucks’ training camp and received valuable feedback to play with pace, harder, as well as making passes when he can.
Now in his second KIJHL season, Max has eight assists in eight games. Last season he had five goals and 20 points in 41 games and played for the KIJHL Prospects team in the BCHC Prospects Game. While his stats are pretty good to start, he knows he has lots to work on and isn’t worried too much about the points. He wants to help his team win and qualify for the playoffs.
Jack Lambert of the Fernie Ghostriders now has six goals in seven games after scoring three in their two games on the weekend. The Edmonton, Alberta product has matched the six goals he scored last season in 22 games. Lambert also has a game-winning goal.
Prezton Stewart is tied with linemate Brayden Bissell for six points to lead the Golden Rockets.
“I feel like I have been doing pretty good. Of late I’ve been putting a good stretch of games together,” said Stewart. “We haven’t been able to get the W, but we are working really hard in practice and I think if we make some minor adjustments, we can win those tight games.”
An explosive player, Stewart likes to play a gritty style, get in the corners and be a playmaker. He credited Bissell for helping him and says “we connect well and set up plays for each other.”
Neil Murdoch Division
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks are scoring more goals so far this season compared to last, which Ollie Clement says the team is happy about.
“I know coaches are always telling us to shoot the puck. Our games have been pretty high scoring,” he said. “We focus on defence first, but we’ve scored a lot of points.”
Being second in the league in goals scored and allowed has the Nitehawks off to a 7-0 start. Clement says the Nitehawks have played such strong defence because of their work in practice, which includes battle drills and a focus on positioning.
“Being a forward, we are told to always support our defencemen the best we can,” he said. “Get open for them on breakouts.”
Clement rejoined the Nitehawks after attending the BCHL Trail Smoke Eaters camp, and now the local product (Rossland, B.C.) is leading the team with 11 points. He credits his offensive improvement to a more accurate shot after shooting a lot of pucks during the summer.
“I focused on a quicker release and harder shots, rather than trying to pick corners,” he said. “My accuracy has come along with it. My stickhandling is also better.”
Since returning from the Melfort Mustangs camp, Chad Bates has liked his play for the Grand Forks Border Bruins, but feels his offensive start has been slow with four points in eight games. He is confident that it will come.
“This year I have been a lot more physical than I started off last year,” he said. “I got off to a hot start, then tapered off towards the end of the year last season. This year I think it’s going to be the opposite.”
With more strength on his 6-2, 180-pound frame, Bates looks to win more battles and play with speed. On a new Border Bruins team, he is looking to build chemistry with his teammates and be a leader.
Spokane Brave Tie Schumacher is “just playing hockey and having fun” without worry and it’s working for him with three goals and 17 points in eight games.
When he’s playing his best, the Post Falls, Idaho product is working well along the wall in the offensive and defensive zone, winning puck battles. Schumacher also likes making plays and getting shots off quick.
“I’m definitely a lot more confident and I’ve been through the situation of being down a couple goals,” he said. “I made the mistakes last year and now I can make less of them this year and help the team.”
Schumacher joined the Braves after playing his first Junior hockey season for the Sheridan Hawks in the North American 3 Hockey League, putting up 30 points in 37 games. Schumacher said the KIJHL is quicker when asked about the transition.
“It’s definitely been harder, but it’s been a lot more fun,” said Schumacher.
Carsyn Crawford leads the Nelson Leafs blueline with four points in seven games, including matching last season’s goal total of two. The Airdrie, Alberta native feels he’s been playing pretty good, but is more focused on “my defensive play, but offensively I felt really good and calm out there with the puck.”
“I think that my skating over the offseason is better as I’m more mobile with and without the puck,” he said. “I’m poised with the puck and I can see the play develop ahead of time.”
Crawford said the group is coming together as they continue to bond early into the season and work on executing plays to their game plan.
Gage Senio collected two assists in his first three games with the Castlegar Rebels and felt pretty good about his performances, minus a rough outing in his third game. The Red Deer product brings experience. He played 63 USPHL Premier games over the last two seasons, collecting 22 points and 49 penalty minutes.
At 6-0, 196 pounds, Senio likes to play physical, delivering hits in the corner and battling in front of the net.
“I like not being easy to play against, but also making a good first pass to help the forwards get out of the zone,” he said.
Bill Ohlhausen Division
Anmol Garcha had three points in two games for the Princeton Posse and leads the team with 11 points in eight games. He was held off the scoresheet in their loss to Osoyoos and felt that he could have performed better to get all three wins. Overall, he likes how he is playing.
“Compared to last year I feel a lot better. I was coming off a concussion and it was tougher for me to get in it,” he said. “This year having no injuries, it was a lot easier to come back and be more confident with the puck. That’s been the biggest thing.”
In his eight games, Garcha has been held off the scoresheet twice. With 32 career KIJHL goals, netminders may have to fear his shot which is better and more accurate than before.
“It has helped create more chances for myself and my teammates,” said the Sherwood Park, Alberta product.
Garcha is 12 points away from hitting 100 in his KIJHL career as he has 88 in 71 games.
Richard Burden had three points in two games for the North Okanagan Knights and Head Coach Liam McOnie really likes what Burden brings.
“He plays an honest, heavy, two-way game and brings a lot of intangibles,” said McOnie. “He plays hard and isn’t scared of the dirty areas on the ice.”
Burden is third on the Knights in points, and with his assist in yesterday’s 2-1 SO loss to Kelowna, he has eight points in 11 games and McOnie said “he definitely pays the price to get his cookies, taking lots of abuse in the corners and in front of the net.”
“We’re looking for Richard to continue being a big part of our team on and off the ice,” added McOnie. “He’s got good leadership capabilities and brings an enthusiastic energy and we need him to keep dragging the younger guys into the fight.”
Sixteen-year-old Tanner Sunderman is impressing Summerland Steam Head Coach Morten Kjolby.
“He was the best player last weekend,” said Kjolby. “No matter the outcome, the competitive level stayed the same. He made simple and smart plays the whole weekend.”
Kjolby said Sunderman, a centre, plays a strong game because of his skating and does many things really well. As the season continues, the hope is that Sunderman will be able to contribute more offensively. He has two points in seven games.
With two goals against Beaver Valley last week, Hunter O’Neal now has five goals and eight points in 10 games for the Kelowna Chiefs, tied for the team lead.
Head Coach Travers Rebman liked the jump O’Neal played with to get into space, retrieve pucks and get shots on net.
“He was one of our better forwards,” said Rebman, who believes O’Neal will continue to produce offensively.
Rebman added that O’Neal, who played for the Southern Alberta Hockey Academy U18 Prep last season, has great tools. He is a determined player, quick to execute plays and works for chances. Offensive opportunities will come as he adjusts to the league and receives more power play time.
Austin Rampone pocketed his first two points of the season for the Osoyoos Coyotes as a defenceman. With injuries impacting the Coyotes blueline, Head Coach Ken Law shifted the Penticton product back into a defenceman.
“He played a little bit in minor hockey, and he’s just a solid two-way player,” said Law. “He’s very defensive when he was playing forward, so we thought, let’s give him a shot on the back end and see what he can do. He was our best defenceman, playing with a lot of confidence and moved the puck well.”
His two assists came off nice plays getting into areas to pass the puck. Because he played so well, Rampone won’t be a forward for a while. Law also praised how good he’s been in practice.
“He likes it. He’s feeling the love because he gets more ice time,” said Law, who gave Rampone 22 minutes, 19 seconds of playing time compared to his 16:40 average. “He’s more involved. He’s so defensively gifted and works hard just to get back in plays. Now he’s looking up ice instead of from the opposite side and he’s got great vision.”
Doug Birks Division
Tyler Burke picked up assists in two of the three Sicamous Eagles games to help them win all three matches. Against Chase, he assisted on Caleb DeHoog’s goal to give them a 4-3 lead in what finished a 5-4 final. In their 4-1 win over Kamloops, Burke helped set up DeHoog’s winner.
In 10 games, Burke has 11 points, good for third on the Eagles. Last season after coming over from North Okanagan, Burke had 33 points in 31 games. The Vernon product is set to hit a couple of milestones as he is six games away from 100 career KIJHL regular season games and he’s 18 points away from 100.
Head Coach-GM Nick Deschenes earned a silver medal while he represented Canada at the International Function Fitness Fed Masters Worlds in Richmond earlier this month.
Since joining the Chase Heat from the Revelstoke Grizzlies, Lynden Robertson has been an impact player. Robertson had three points in two games, and Head Coach Brad Fox likes how hard the Red Deer native works.
“He has high intensity. It’s complemented with a pretty good skill set which includes a high IQ leading to strong offensive decision-making,” said Fox. “He has complemented our hockey team from the moment he got here and has chemistry with linemates Jalen Davidson and Kieran Strauss.”
Robertson is second on the Heat with nine points in eight games. Robertson played for the Red Deer Vipers in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League, where he had 11 points in 33 games. Fox said the 18-year-old has experience playing against older, stronger opponents, which is noticeable.
Kamloops Storm captain Evan Clark had a goal and assist in their split last weekend against Revelstoke and Sicamous. In their 4-1 win over the Grizzlies, Clark scored their second empty-net goal. In five games, Clark has three goals and three assists, while averaging 19:24 of ice time a game.
Luke Aston is a key piece for the Revelstoke Grizzlies. At the start of the season, Aston, 20, was named an assistant captain and Head Coach Jiri Novak says he cares about the team and wants to be a team leader. He wants to help in every situation with a focus on doing things right.
Aston is at his best playing with speed and energy, being a complete 200-foot player.
“When he plays simple, and with structure, he is really effective,” said Novak.
In his first season, 2021-22, he had 10 points in 36 games, last season he had 21 points in 39 games and this season he currently leads with four points in six games.
Captain Brady Schwab scored his second of the season in their 4-1 loss to Kamloops. Schwab has three points in three games, while averaging 16:15 of ice time a game. Last season Schwab had nine points in 30 games.
100 Mile House Wranglers Head Coach Dale Hladun has always known that Ethan Davey has offensive upside. Davey had five points in three games and Hladun is happy to see Davey “starting to find it.”
“Ethan has sense,” said Hladun. “He’s a lanky kid (6-3, 180 pounds) and is slithery, so he can slip through guys, but he can also push guys off the puck. He’s got a lot of assets that give him scoring chances.”
Hladun believes a big factor to Davey producing is his friend Kelton Shinde. Hladun tried to get the Terrace minor hockey product to play for the Wrangler last season, however, Shinde preferred to stay at home and graduate with his friends. Shinde and Davey grew up playing together.
“Now that they are playing together again, they are just starting to find what they had together in minor hockey,” said Hladun. “Ethan has a will to win. He’s competitive. He’s not happy with our record and is a big voice in the room for a young man.”
Davey has five goals and five assists in nine games to lead the Wranglers, while Shinde has four points in nine games. Davey played for the KIJHL Prospects team in the BCHC Prospects Game last season.