On Tuesday, the British Columbia Hockey Conference announced the rosters for the KIJHL and PJHL teams that will compete in the first annual BCHC Prospects Game on Tuesday, November 22nd at the Sardis Sports Complex in Chilliwack, BC.
The team, featuring players born mainly in 2005 and 2006 with a maximum of six from 2004, will be coached by Dave Hnatiuk of the Grand Forks Border Bruins. He is joined by assistant coaches Mark Readman of the Princeton Posse and Ty Valin of the Fernie Ghostriders.
It was announced last month that the 2022 BCHC Prospects Game will see the top young players from the KIJHL and PJHL face off in front of Junior A coaches and scouts. This week’s KIJHL Notebook highlights each of the players who have been selected for the KIJHL team. In speaking with them, they expressed excitement to be on the team, play in the game, and are honoured to be chosen. They are also looking forward to showcasing their skills to earn a shot to play Junior A hockey in the future.
Eddie Mountain Division
|Keenan Ingram, 18, of the Columbia Valley Rockies is second among all KIJHL rookies in points with 19 in 12 games and is tied for the league lead in goals with 11. The Calgary, Alberta product has only been held off the scoresheet once this season and has three, two-goal games. He’s currently on a five-game points streak with seven points and has scored a goal in four straight games.
Ingram says he has been playing a good role for the team and producing and doing what he can to help. He credits his production to practice and strong chemistry with his linemates Anthony Domina and Lucas De La Salle.
“My backchecking has gotten stronger and my defensive game for sure has gotten better,” he said. “I like to think I’m a playmaker and a goal-scorer.”
|Evan Tsadilas, 17, has four goals and seven points for his hometown Golden Rockets, which has him eighth on the team in that category. The six-foot, 186-pound forward has a game-winner, which he scored on Oct. 15. Tsadilas has three goals and five points in five games. Tsadilas said it’s pretty exciting to be chosen to the KIJHL Prospects team and he’s “pretty pumped to go” and sees it as a good opportunity. Tsadilas has enjoyed playing at home, as it was a dream when he was a kid. This season he has been focused on consistency.
“I have been working on always playing good and not having a bad shift. Just being someone who can go out there and give something bad up,” he said. “I can make plays and set plays up.”
Tsadilas didn’t feel he played well at the start of the season, but has picked it up the last couple of games. He views himself as an offensive player, but also cares about playing strong defensively. He’s improved with his consistency and overall play.
|Taylor Haggerty, 18, is third on the Fernie Ghostriders with 13 points in 16 games. The Sherwood Park, Alberta product has three points on the power-play, two of them goals. Haggerty said he has played well so far.
“I’m using my offensive abilities well and working really hard, but I still have more in the tank,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve played my best hockey yet, which is exciting for me because I have been playing so well. I hope to keep that momentum moving forward.”
Haggerty likes to make plays and slow the game down in certain situations, looking for the right plays to set teammates up.
“I also like to play with speed, play with a little bit of grit and muck and grind, get in on the forecheck,” he said. “I’m a jack-of-all trades, I’ve got that offensive ability, but I can be tough to play against, which helps me even more.”
|Max Chakrabarti, 17, leads the Creston Valley Thunder Cats defence in points with seven in 15 games and has two goals. He recently scored an overtime winner against the Revelstoke Grizzlies for his second goal of the season. Chakrabarti, whose brother Luke is also on the Thunder Cats, is happy with his own play adding its one of the stronger starts to seasons he has had.
“I’m an offensive defenceman, I rush the puck and make good breakout passes in my zone,” he said.
To start the season he was nervous as he adjusted to the league play and facing older opposition. After the first few games he began to settle in. He has improved his speed, and with help from Head Coach Brad Tobin, there has been a focus on quick feet and joining the rush. He has also adapted to the physical play of the league.
|Neil Murdoch Division
|Chad Bates, 18, is fourth on the Grand Forks Border Bruins with 15 points in 17 games. Of his nine goals, one is a game-winner. The six-foot-two, 180-pound forward is on a four-game points streak with six points. He had a four-point performance against the Chase Heat on Oct. 21. The Regina, Saskatchewan product says he’s had a great start to the season and the last few games have gone really well for him, getting a lot of momentum. He’s produced four goals and six points in four games.
“I’m a bigger body (six-foot-two, 180-pounds), I can get in front of the net. I think I’m pretty skilled for a bigger guy, winning puck battles and being a reliable player,” he said.
Bates has seen improvement in his physical play and forechecking.
“Coming from midget, it was a lot less physical so the physical game was a big thing to get used to in this league,” he said.
Ben Edwards, 17, is right behind his teammate Bates with 15 points in 16 games to lead their defence in that category. The second-year blueliner, and hometown product, has already equaled his point totals from last season with the Kelowna Chiefs in nearly half the games. Of his 15 points this season, four are assists on the power-play.
The six-foot-one, 195-pound defenceman is very happy with his play.
“I like to be a team player, pass the puck around and I’ve started to shoot a bit more, which has got me two goals this season,” he said. “Coach Dave Hnatiuk, he puts a lot of trust in me and he uses me out there on the power-play.”
The biggest area where Edwards has improved is with his confidence, which has grown since the end of last season.
|Tyler Seminoff, 18, of the Nelson Leafs has two assists in 11 games. The Oliver product earned his first junior hockey point on Oct. 7 against Revelstoke. Seminoff, a defensive defenceman, said he feels he can do more, however, he has been really happy with his play on what is a really good Leafs team.
“I get a lot of time on the penalty-kill and I do whatever my team needs,” he said. “I’ve gotten a lot more physical, in this league there is more physicality and I feel like I’m definitely getting a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger.”
|Doug Birks Division
|Daniel Wittenberg, 18, is third on the Revelstoke Grizzlies with 11 points in 16 games. Three of the five goals scored by the Calgary product have come on the power-play. The six-foot-five, 189-pound forward says he has been playing pretty well.
“I’m playing the body, I’m physical, I’m getting scoring chances. Overall, I think my game has been pretty good,” said Wittenberg. “I knew I could produce points in this league and be a good player.”
Wittenberg credits the great coaching overall to his success and said Ryan Parent is a great coach as he “really pushes us in practices, helps us understand the game more and that has really been helping me out.”
Kurtis Kinoshita, 16, has two points in 14 games. The hometown product says he has played pretty good this season as he learns the structure and systems. Last season Kinoshita played with the Grizzlies as an affiliate player and helped them win bronze in the Cyclone Taylor Cup. That experience has helped him and gave him confidence.
“I usually focus on being effective on the penalty-kill and being a grinding player,” he said. “We’ve been focused on structure so I feel like I’ve gained more speed and confidence in hitting.”
|Damon Cunningham, 18, of the Sicamous Eagles is fourth among rookie goalies in the KIJHL with five wins, to go with a league-leading .957 SP and a 1.57 GAA. A butterfly goalie, Cunningham credits his strong stats to their defence and the structure the team plays in front of him.
“I’m pretty dynamic, I’m very quick across the crease,” said Cunningham, who enjoys watching NHL goalies Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders and Jordan Binnington of the St. Louis Blues. “I feel like I’ve been playing pretty well, but I also feel I can do better. My team has been playing really well in front of me, which has given me the opportunity to have success.”
Cunningham worked hard over the summer to get his game to where it needed to be and give himself the best chance to make a Junior A program. He added when his team is playing as well as they are in front of him, it makes his job much easier.
“There are some good players in the league, good teams, played Revelstoke last night (Tuesday) and they were a nice little challenge,” he said. “It’s a lot more physical and a lot more aggressive. It’s a nice change.”
|Owen Aura, 17, has four points in 13 games for the Kamloops Storm. He recorded his first point in his fourth game and it was a goal on Oct. 7. The hometown product said he feels he has played pretty good.
“I’m just getting used to playing with older players and more physical players from when I played last year,” he said. “I like to play a two-way game.”
After a slow adjustment to the league, the six-foot, 198-pound defenceman feels his game has picked up. He is getting more confident with the puck to make plays and passes. He is able to protect it and go around opponents, and battle in the corners. Aura also feels he is close to being able to produce more points.
Jake Phillips-Watts, 16, has three goals and seven points in 16 games. All of his goals have come on the power-play and he has a power-play assist. The Quesnel product says he is a hard worker and doesn’t “shy away from much.”
“I’m a defensive player, I don’t get scored on a lot when I’m on, but am able to provide some offence,” he said.
Phillips-Watts has improved his shot, which has come a long way from the start.
|Tyler Smoluk, 17, of the 100 Mile House Wranglers has six points in 15 games, which ties him for the team lead for points among defenceman. The Kamloops product has three power-play assists. Smoluk has experienced a learning curve facing older and more developed players, who are bigger, stronger and faster. Smoluk likes to play a two-way game.
“I think I’ve had a pretty good start to the season. I hope I can keep it up and keep trending upwards. I think the Wranglers do a pretty good job of developing their players and getting rookies to play. I like to be physical and block shots, jump up into the rush and pass and shoot, make plays. I feel I’ve made some jumps in skating and I’m able to keep up and push the pace of the game.”
|Bill Ohlhausen Division
|Jonathan Ward, 17, of the Princeton Posse is 10th on the team in points with six in 15 games. The Kamloops product collected his first junior hockey point on Oct. 7. Ward said he feels better now about his play as at the start it was hard, as he was adjusting to the league.
“I came from AA last year and it was a really big adjustment, it took a few games but we’re getting there,” he said. “The speed, it’s just a lot faster. It’s more hard hitting, you are playing with older guys. Speed was the biggest one, there is so much less time.”
Ward has become more calm with the puck and has felt his confidence grow. He likes to play a forechecking style and being strong in his defensive zone.
Jalen McRae, 17, has three points in 12 games. The Merritt product collected his first junior point on Oct. 4. McRae said he’s put together a good couple of games and is looking to keep getting better. McRae likes to play a gritty style, forechecking hard, while locking things down in the defensive zone. Coming from minor hockey, McRae said it has been a big step physically and with the pace of the game, which forced him to make decisions quicker.
“I like that I get the puck deep and to my teammates and help get things going in the offensive zone,” he said.
“It’s a huge opportunity and I’m really looking forward to getting to play in front of a lot of people and hopefully my parents can make it down, it’s really just an honour,” said McRae.
McRae is an affiliate player with the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials.
|Austin Rampone, 17, of the Osoyoos Coyotes plays a key role as a shutdown forward in their bottom-six. He’s counted on to kill penalties and is happy with how he has performed.
“I’m more like a chippy, Matthew Tkachuk-style player, being in everyone’s faces, getting pucks out and being solid on defence,” said Rampone, a Penticton product.
As the youngest player on the Coyotes, it’s been an adjustment to the league, especially after playing a top-six role last season with OHA. He’s become stronger on the ice seeing that there is less time and space, he has had to adapt to that. Rampone said it means a lot to be selected for the team.
“It takes weight off my back knowing how hard I have worked and definitely thank the boys for helping me along the way and it’s such a good opportunity,” he said.
Rampone is an affiliate player with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.
|Kent Moors, 17, of the Summmerland Steam is second on the team with 15 points in 15 games and leads the team with seven goals. Moors feels he has had a decent start to his season and “I definitely had a lot more to give. I’m definitely not at the top of my game.”
Moors feels he’s a good two-way centre, who is hard working, and wins battles.
“I feel like I’m a good special teams player, I can win faceoffs, but I can also make my linemates better, producing opportunities for them and myself,” he said.
It took Moors time to adjust to the league, but it’s been a good transition for him. His biggest improvements have come from his shot and faceoffs. Head Coach Mark MacMillan has given Moors a lot of tips on how to improve in the faceoff dot.
“It’s such an important part of the game as a centreman if you want to get to the next level,” he said.
Moors is looking forward to playing with the good, young talent on the roster, and the experience of it.
“I feel like it will be cool playing with guys I haven’t met before and playing against the PJHL,” said Moors. “I’m excited to represent my team and the KIJHL.”
|Austin Seibel, 17, of the North Okanagan Knights is sixth among league rookie goalies with five wins and has a 3.03 GAA with a .921 SP, both in the top-10. The Coldstream, B.C. product says he has been playing well with lots to improve on.
Seibel is confident in his crease and is even-keeled and likes playing a patient game, and communicating with his teammates is important. Adjusting to the KIJHL has been a step from when he played in the CSSHL with the Prairie Hockey Academy.
“It’s definitely pushing me and it’s going to be good for me at the end of the year as I improve more and more,” he said.
The six-foot-one, 162-pound goalie has improved his reads as the pace is faster, and knowing what is coming and what he needs to be aware of.
Seibel is an affiliate player with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
|Aiden Morcom, 17, has four goals and five points in 13 games for the Kelowna Chiefs. He’s tied for the team lead in that category. Morcom scored his first junior hockey goal in his fourth game and had his first multi-point game on Saturday against the Columbia Valley Rockies. The West Kelowna product feels he has played pretty good this season and he wants to maintain his performance.
“I try and work hard all the time and win puck battles,” he said. “I feel like I’m very good at making plays in the offensive zone.”
Morcom says he has improved his skating and his shot thanks to practices every day. It gives a lot of time to work on skills.
Zach Peitch, 17, has three assists in 12 games and recorded his first junior point in his third game. All of Peitch’s points are assists. The Kelowna product said their season hasn’t started off the best, however, the defenceman has taken on a leadership role to try to bring the Chiefs closer together and being built of a younger group,
“I want to show the guys it’s important to play with some heart guts out there,” said Peitch. “I like to be physical, and I have a good offensive side as well. Last year I played a lot of forward as well as defence. I’ve really improved my offensive side, while also just being hard-to-play against defenceman.”
In his first junior hockey season, he has had to adjust to size of older players, and the speed of the game. He feels his pace and decision-making is quicker.