A look at KIJHL team improvements
By Emanuel Sequeira
In this week’s Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) Notebook, we’ve continued to focus on how teams are playing, especially from the previous weekend and moving forward.
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,” said 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 said.
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 said. “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,” said 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 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.
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 said 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,” said 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,” said 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.
Friday, Nov. 26
- Fernie Ghostriders vs Columbia Valley Rockies at Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena in Invermere. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
- Creston Valley Thunder Cats vs Golden Rockets at Golden Arena. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
- Kimberley Dynamiters vs Nelson Leafs at Nelson Community Complex. Game time is 7 p.m. PST.
Saturday, Nov. 27
- Golden vs Columbia Valley at Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena – 7 p.m.
- Creston Valley vs Fernie at Fernie Memoria Arena – 7:30 p.m.
- Kimberley vs Beaver Valley Nitehawks at Beaver Valley Arena in Fruitvale – 7 p.m. PST.
– Emanuel Sequeira is KIJHL Director of Communications