Since the calendar flipped to 2023, 11 hat-tricks have been scored. Included are two four-goal performances by Reece Nelson of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on and Kaelan Shelton of the Columbia Valley Rockies. Shelton’s came on the same night that Nathan Dominici of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks collected three goals against the Nelson Leafs. Recently on Jan. 27, Kevin-Thomas Walters of the North Okanagan Knights and Tanner Funk of Princeton recorded hat-tricks.
Let’s get into this week’s KIJHL Notebook.
Eddie Mountain Division
|The Columbia Valley Rockies have the third best power-play in the KIJHL at 21.5 per cent. They have 35 goals and 163 chances and their top-three PP scorers are Keenan Ingram with 12, to lead the league, Kayde Kinaschuk with seven and Anthony Domina with four.
|The Kimberley Dynamiters own the best power-play in the KIJHL at 23.9 per cent. The Dynamiters have 43 goals on 180 chances and are led by defenceman Cam Reid who has nine goals on the man-advantage. He is followed by Cash Regan with seven and Kade Leskosky with six. Reid has 24 power-play points.
|The Golden Rockets are ninth in the KIJHL with a power-play at 18.6 per cent. They have 30 goals on 161 chances. Liam Furlong and Jordan Lario are tied with six goals each, followed by Nick Morin with five.
|Fernie Ghostriders head coach-GM Ty Valin has been happy his group is finding the consistency they want to play with for 60 minutes over their last five games. He is also happy with the timing, but cautioned about peaking too early.
“They are coming together at the right time because this time of the year is important as we move forward when games are so meaningful,” said Valin.
Ethan MacDuff has really been good for the team, but Valin added a lot of guys have been good.
“Ethan has been putting up a lot of numbers up, and same with Taylor Haggerty as well and Jack Lambert,” he said. “We’re getting contributions from everybody. It’s not only putting numbers up, it’s little things. It’s blocking shots, killing penalties and being able to shut guys down and play tight defensively.”
Haggery leads the Ghostriders with five power-play goals, while Scott Sinclair and Kort Kisinger have four each.
|The Creston Valley Thunder Cats earned a 4-3 shootout win over Kimberley on Tuesday night and made some changes to their lines. That was done because head coach-GM Brad Tobin said they know where they are in the standings and are going to the Neil Murdoch division for the playoffs. He felt they could tinker with their lines.
“We wanted to see if there was some chemistry happening in other areas of the line up,” said Tobin. “All the guys seemed to have a positive view on that. They were all working hard. It was good to see that we go on to Kimberley and get a result.”
Tobin tried Nikolai Morrion on a line with Luke Chakrabarti and Blake Anderson. Tobin said looking throughout the rest of the lineup it was finding other players that were working hard playing well together. Brayden MacKay, with Kolby Hennessy and Hassan Himour made a really good play in Tobin’s view on their first goal.
Luke Chakrabarti leads the Thunder Cats with nine power-play goals, while Stavros Koutsantonis has six and Reece Nelson has four.
|Neil Murdoch Division
|Jonah Smith has five goals in his last five games for the Grand Forks Border Bruins, whole Karsten Gorrill was behind him with two goals. Spencer Horning has a goal and four assists. In three games, Ethan Shebansky earned a point for the Border Bruins in a shootout loss and had a .924 SP.
Cody Laybolt, Russell Kosec and Jonah Smith each have four power-play goals.
|Ollie Clement has five points in his last six games for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and head coach-GM Terry Jones said he is playing with much more confidence.
“Throughout his time with the Nitehawks, he has been a hard worker, a very reliable penalty killer and a dependable defensive player,” said Jones. “His high energy and intensity is paying off with some offensive production.”
As a 16-year-old rookie, the Rossland, B.C. product had four goals and six points in 28 games. This season the 5-9, 153-pound forward has 10 goals and 20 points in 37 games.
Nathan Dominici leads the Nitehawks with nine power-play goals.
|Ryan Quast had three goals and five assists in six games for the Nelson Leafs. Quast now has 18 goals and 33 points in 41 games. Quast was followed by defenceman Tyson Lautard who had two goals and five assists in six games. Lautard leads the Leafs defence with 27 points in 37 games. Johnny Carmichael leads the team with eight power-play tallies, while Lucas Byrne has five.
|Matteo Hueston recorded a 44-save shut out for the Castlegar Rebels in a 2-0 victory over the Beaver Valley Nitehawks. It’s the first shutout for the Edmonton product this season and the second of his KIJHL career. Jozef Kuchaslo of the Revelstoke Grizzlies is the only other goalie this season to record a shutout with more saves, with 54 against Kimberley.
The Rebels have Calvin Morrison, Bradley Beals, Jace Kramer and Austin Lourenco with two power-play goals.
|Bill Ohlhausen Division
|Tyson Horiachka has been one of the Princeton Posse’s most complete players.
“He makes it difficult for opponents to gain offence on his line,” said Posse head coach Mark Readman, who added that Horiachka was rewarded for his efforts with a three-point performance on Jan. 24.
Readman has seen continued improvement in the Sherwood Park, Alberta product.
“He’s such a smart hockey player and pays attention to every little detail. Playing away from the puck, he’s extremely great at supporting his teammates. He’s able to drive certain areas to push defenders back and open up some room.”
Readman said defensively, Horiachka is very conscious of playing strong and is great at supporting defencemen and helping on exits.
“His focus is strong and he takes pride in every little detail. He has been a welcome blessing this year.”
Horiachka has 10 goals and 24 points in 35 games. Ty Olsen leads the Posse with five power-play tallies, while Dayton Nelson, Horiachka and Lucas Sadownyk have four goals.
|The Osoyoos Coyotes have the eighth best power-play in the KIJHL at 18.9 per cent with 38 goals on 201 chances. Coletyn Boyarski leads the Coyotes with 10 man-advantage goals, which is second best in the league. Ethan McKinley is second with six, followed by Zach Park with five.
|Tyson McCaig plays a simple game for the North Okanagan Knights and is very structured defensively.
“He’s a very meat and potatoes style and makes the first pass and chips the puck out,” said Knights head coach-GM Liam McOnie. “He is an old school stay-at-home defenceman, which we have come to love. He has really done a great job of buying into that role and taken on some of the toughest matchups in our division. He has done a really good job of being a plus player and eats a lot of minutes.”
Per Instat, McCaig averages 17 minutes of ice time a game.
Kevin-Thomas Walters leads the Knights with seven power-play goals, while Matthew Johnston has six.
|Kent Moors, who leads the Summerland Steam with 37 points in 36 games hds a goal and four points in his last five games, prior to their game against the Coyotes on Wednesday. Of Moors’ 17 goals, eight have come on the power-play. Since joining the Steam from Kimberley at the trade deadline, Luke Rothfos has five assists in six games. Cassiday Hank is second on the team with five power-play goals.
|Aiden Morcom has led the Kelowna Chiefs with three goals and two assists in five games. Morcom leads the team with 24 points in 40 games. He also leads the Chiefs with four power-play goals. Parker MacDonald, Easton Hall and Max Jugnauth each have three power-play goals.
|Doug Birks Division
|Daniel Wittenberg and Carter Bettenson each had six points in their last five games for the Revelstoke Grizzlies. Bettenson led with four goals, while David Coyle had three. Bettenson leads the Grizzlies with nine man-advantage goals. Nineteen of his 42 points have come from the power-play.
|With seven wins in their last 10 games, the Sicamous Eagles have had a balanced attack in their last five-games. Tyler Burke was tied with a trio of rookies in Warren Roberts-Lee, Noah Edstrom and Sean Smith with four points. Roberts-Lee led with three goals. Alex Smith leads the Eagles with eight man-advantage goals.
|Kamloops Storm goalie Cody Creasy became just the second goalie in KIJHL history to score a goal into an empty net.
“I didn’t even look at the clock to be honest and shot the puck as hard as I could, hoping it would go in,” Creasy told Chad Klassen of CFJC Today. “It went over a couple guys, so I guess I got lucky.”
“It was around the three or four-minute mark, our assistant coach Andrew Fisher gave us the idea that if their goalie gets out we’re going to pass it back to [Creasy] and try and go for it,” said Storm captain Jameson Rende, who was the player to feed Creasy. “A couple minutes went by, it was near the end of the game. The original plan was to get up the ice and hinge it back to him, give him some time, but there wasn’t much time left, so I just threw it — a hope play — thank God it worked out.
“Every goalie dreams about, whoever straps on the pads dreams about it,” continued Creasy. “It’s going to be a really memorable moment for myself.”
You can read the full story written by Klassen here.
|100 Mile House Wranglers head coach-GM Dale Hladun has seen defenceman Tyler Smoluk steadily climb as a force in the league.
“He has scored some pretty premier goals the last few games, with a game winner against Chase in overtime,” said Hladun. “Smoke is really blossoming as a player and I think he’s destined for Junior A and beyond.
An affiliate with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings, Hladun says Smoluk is always competitive.
“He engages a ton and will engage in every battle, he rushes the puck. I think he’s really found his game to adjust as to when he’s more lethal. With his strong skating skill, he can go end-to-end with that puck and get it in deep. I think a lot of young defencemen, when they first start, they think they have to deke everybody. You tend to lose the puck. He’s learned how to evade people and can drive wide and protect the puck with his body and use his speed. That makes him so much more effective getting up ice.”
Smoluk has averaged 22:02 of ice time per game. Ethan Sanders leads the Wranglers with three power-play goals.
|Chase Heat head coach Brad Fox is looking for small victories as it is more than likely his team will not qualify for the KIJHL Teck Cup playoffs.
“We look for little things that can keep our group engaged and focused,” said Fox. “A lot of our things have just been conversations of talking about pushing hard every single day no matter what. We have a long run of Game 7s. We’re working hard. The compete level has been high, the mental make us has been a challenge for us to stay in the fight and we’re working through it.”
Braeden Huth, Jalen Davidson and Trevor Kennedy all had five points in their last six games, Davidson the exception having played five. Davidson leads the Heat with five man-advantage goals. Davidson, a rookie, averages 15:58 of ice time a game, which includes 2:59 on the power-play.