Osoyoos Coyotes forward Jack Henderson looks poised to win the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League scoring championship. As the regular season nears completion on Feb. 19, Henderson has a seven point lead on Columbia Valley Rockies rookie Kayde Kinaschuk. While Henderson looks to land the Top Scorer crown, Kinaschuk is battling with Tristan Weill of the Summerland Steam for a chance at KIJHL Rookie of the Year. For the final week of the regular season, the KIJHL Notebook puts the spotlight on each team’s most valuable players.
Doug Birks Division
Brandon Kasdorf has risen to the occasion every game for the Revelstoke Grizzlies. Upon returning from Junior A, the Rosemary, Alberta product leads the team in points with 35 in 29 games, for a 1.21 points per game average.
“He comes ready to compete every night. One of the most dangerous offensive producers in the league, he can play a 200-foot game,” said Head Coach and GM Ryan Parent. “A valuable leader and an example who sets the tone for his team.”
Alek Erichuk has been instrumental in the Kamloops Storms’ team success this year. In 33 games between Nelson and Kamloops, Erichuk has four goals and 20 points.
“He logs a lot of minutes, plays off situations, and is a very strong player at both ends of the rink,” said Storm Head Coach Geoff Grimwood, of the veteran, who spent last season with the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL. “He is a tremendous teammate, leads by example, and is respected by everyone in our dressing room. Without question we don’t have the season we have without Alek.”
Jacob Biensch is the Chase Heat’s leading point producer, but what he has done away from the rink, said Head Coach Brad Fox, has been a “pretty contagious thing for everybody else to be all in.”
“That’s what you need if you are going to have success in the playoffs,” said Fox. “He has taken on a role with a minimal group of veterans. What he has done is elevate everybody’s want and care by putting a lot of pressure on himself to make sure everyone is buying in every single day, 24/7. That’s a tall order. He has done it well.”
He is very driven and “wants the puck all the time” and wants to be involved in everything on the ice.
“He has also been extraordinary in being unselfish towards the common goal,” said Fox.
Hayden Fast has consistently been a top player for the Sicamous Eagles. Head Coach Nick Deschenes said there are players who have elevated their game.
“He has been performing at a level that is higher amongst his peers,” said Deschenes. “He got listed as an affiliate player with the West Kelowna Warriors. There are things part of his game that makes him valuable to our group.”
Since coaching the Eagles, Deschenes has liked that Fast is coachable, works hard, is a good teammate, and does everything – the little things – right.
The 100 Mile House Wranglers is Loic Mainguy-Crepault’s team, said Head Coach and GM Dale Hladun in January. After Casey Thomson was traded to Fernie, along with part of the Wranglers’ leadership group, Mainguy-Crepault was named an assistant captain.
“Loic was consistent in giving our club a chance to win, or keeping us in
any game he played,” said Hladun. “Our very inexperienced club would often allow
upwards of 50-plus shots on net and Loic would always meet the challenge. I believe he is the top goalie in the division, if not the KIJHL. Loic has a bright future ahead in his hockey career.”
With his five wins, Mainguy-Crepault has a .913 SP with a 4.08 GAA.
Bill Ohlhausen Division
Osoyoos Coyotes Head Coach Carter Rigby joked that Jack Henderson having 60 points helps his case for team MVP.
“Just everything he has done, he’s a guy that changed his game a lot, took a leadership role to the next level and cares about the D-zone,” said Rigby. “He has gotten a chance to play with Merritt (BCHL), he changes the dynamics in the game. He does a lot of good things off the ice too, in the dressing room. He’s a guy that without him, changes the whole team. To have a leading point guy on your team, anybody in the league would want that. He has been great for us. He just does everything right and plays the right way.”
Several players are deserving of being MVP on the Kelowna Chiefs, said Head Coach Travers Rebman.
“Patrick Reynolds has an impact in most games with his puck possession and ability to slow the game down and make plays,” said Rebman. “He is tops on the team in points (38 in 30 games) even missing a number of games.”
Spencer Horning and Cody Laybolt have played a ton of minutes on specialty teams and “Laybolt has been consistently our top faceoff guy.”
Patrick Ferrie and Owen Spannier, who joined after Christmas, have made real positive contributions in a shorter time.
“Ty Marchant has played every game except one where he just flat out deserved a rest when we played four in five nights recently,” said Rebman. “He plays between
25 and 30 minutes most nights and just has so much in the way of puck control to create one-man exits when needed, which takes pressure off our D-zone. He is up there in league D-man points (is second with 33 points in 39 games) and is our captain so he is a huge part of our group’s success.”
With the balanced group the Summerland Steam have, Head Coach and GM Mark MacMillan said Tristan Weill has had a great year up front, he has been in the top-10 in points all season. Grayson Chell has had a great year.
“He’s got a ton of goals for us,” said MacMillan.
Captain Cole Waldbillig “is just a stable force on the backend and he has been putting up numbers offensively and he is arguably our best defensive defenceman,” said MacMillan. “He just does everything for us.
“We’ve won by committee this year, it’s different guys every night doing the right things for us,” MacMillan continued. “I think because our team is so young, a lot of teams in Junior B have a couple of older guys that lead the charge. Wally has done a great job for us on the backend with doing that. Up front, Weiller and Cheller have done well. We’ve had different guys every night.”
Curtis Gould and Peyton Trzaska have done a lot to contribute to the Princeton Posse’s success.
“You look at how consistent Curtis has been since the start of the year, he is always a physical presence from the backend and consistently plays a lot of minutes to provide some stability,” said Head Coach Mark Readman. “Curtis has had some experience at the BCHL level, and with our younger D-core, he has been able to lead the way by his actions and show our new players what it takes to compete at this level on a day-to-day basis.”
Trzaska has been a rock.
“Peyton missed some time with a broken wrist, but you can see the difference when Trzaska is in net. Great goaltending gives you a chance to win every night, and that’s what he does,” said Readman. “Trzaska has been integral to our team’s success since returning after the Christmas break, his numbers have been off the charts, and the confidence our group breathes when he is in the net is one of a kind.”
Goalies Jake Dubinsky and Gabe Murrells-Allaway are the co-MVP’s for the North Okanagan Knights. Both have four wins, and have combined for an .898 SP and a 3.89 GAA.
“They have both been great and have always given us a chance to win every night,” said Head Coach and GM Liam McOnie. “Both are starting goaltenders at this level and we are very fortunate to have had the goaltending we did this season.”
Eddie Mountain Division
The Kimberley Dynamiters have chosen not to reveal their choice until they hold their awards banquet at the end of the season.
Rookie Kayde Kinaschuk and Dylan Malarchuk have been two big pieces for the Columbia Valley Rockies.
“Kayde led the team in scoring (32 goals, 53 points in 37 games) and has been great off the ice, and Dylan was a strong two-way presence who played both defence and forward whenever we asked,” said Head Coach Briar McNaney. “They have both been phenomenal.”
Scott Sinclair and Dayton Nelson have been key pieces for the Fernie Ghostriders.
“He’s just a great leader in our dressing room. He’s a guy that can be counted on in every situation or scenario that comes up,” said Head Coach and GM Ty Valin of Sinclair. “He’s been a very good role model for our younger defencemen and even our younger forwards too.”
Valin has seen the players respond to that really well.
“They embrace learning from him and how hard he works everyday and that is starting to rub off on other guys.”
“Dayton Nelson has been amazing for us,” said Valin. “He rises to the occasion every night. That guy takes a beating everyday and he keeps on going, nothing fazes him. He wants the team to win and will do whatever it takes, he understands his role.”
If he’s needed to play physically, he will play that style. If he’s needed on the power-play, he will do it (10 power-play points).
“He has even been on the PK. He’s a guy that kind of just does it all,” said Valin. “Teammates feed off of what he does and tt’s something that is contagious for our group.”
Levi Hall has been a steady, calm influence in the net for the Golden Rockets. Head Coach and GM Chuck Wight said Hall has kept them in games.
“He makes very athletic saves and keeps us in a position to be competitive,” said Wight. “He has done that consistently.”
Wight has seen improvement in Hall’s mental focus and keeps getting better at it.
“He has worked on his puck-handling skills and he has been a lot calmer with the puck,” said Wight.
Neil Murdoch Division
Joe Davidson and goalies Tenzin Mint and Dylan Marshall are co-MVP’s for the Nelson Leafs. Assistant Coach Adam Dibella had high praise for the trio.
“Joe never cheats on effort and has great hands around the net,” said DiBella of the hometown product, who has 16 goals and 38 points in 37 games as of Feb. 15. “Although Joe is a young player in this league, his leadership has really been showcased this season. Joe is a natural leader.
“Our goaltending position has been our most consistent for the entire regular season,” continued DiBella. “We always trust and can rely on either Tenzin or Dylan to give us solid goaltending every night.”
The duo has combined for 29 wins, a .912 SP and a 2.20 GAA with five shutouts.
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks were not ready to reveal who their MVP is, choosing to do it at a later date.
Luke Chakrabarti and Carlos Siso have been key for the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.
Head Coach and GM Bill Rotheisler carded six goalies this season and Siso was the one constant in a rocky season.
“He held us through and got us some wins,” said Rotheisler. “We would be facing a different team in the playoffs if it wasn’t for him or not even in it. He really came on when he became the guy (after Harmon Laser-Hume moved on to the SJHL). He kind of realized that. Siso worked with our goalie coach constantly going over video, talking with him. For a 20-year-old he evolved his game a lot.”
Rotheisler said Chakrabarti “drives the play every time he is on the ice.”
“He doesn’t get enough credit for his defensive play,” he said. “He is pretty fast on loose pucks in his own zone, no different than he is in the opposition zone. He came in and not only ended up being our best player, he is a great teammate. He works exceptionally hard and came during a time where we were really struggling to finish.”
The Castlegar Rebels are having their awards banquet on Sunday, so their MVP choice will appear in the next Notebook.
Ray Warrack, Matteus Reis and goalies Ethan Shebansky/Justin Dueck have been key for the Grand Forks Border Bruins this season.
Head Coach and GM David Hnatiuk said his captain Warrack has done a great job learning the role, learning Hnatiuk’s expectations, and leadership style while understanding the vision of the rebuilding process they are in.
“Ray’s work ethic is extremely consistent, he works hard every rep in practice which carries through to every shift in games,” said Hnatiuk, adding Warrack has also been heavily engaged in community programs.
Coming from the Kelowna Chiefs, Matteus produced more helping the offence and power play.
“He has been a great addition and brings a positive energy and truly loves the game,” he said. “He has definitely gained more confidence and is fun to watch when he has the puck.”
The goalies have been great this year and want to play Junior A, putting in the work to get a shot. Shebansky recently played for the Trail Smoke Eaters, seeing 10 minutes of action against Salmon Arm.
“I would argue that we have one of the best goalie duos in the league, especially both being 2003’s,” said Hnatiuk. “They both carry a SP over 90 per cent (Shebansky – .911 and Dueck – .904) and have split duty the majority of the season.”