Spokane Braves goalie Andrew Tworkowski has played the most minutes of any KIJHL goalie at 1,766 and has faced the most rubber – 1,482 shots. The next closest to Tworkowski is Osoyoos Coyote Hunter Arntsen who has faced 1,699 shots. What’s even more impressive about Tworkowski’s play is his save percentage – .911, while Arntsen has a .914 SP and three shutouts. There have been a few occasions in which Arntsen’s head coach Ken Law has said that if the product of Dinsmore, Sask., played on a stronger team, he’d have the best stats in the league.
This week’s KIJHL Notebook focuses on each team’s goaltending tandems.
Eddie Mountain Division
With Nick Kunyk and Levi Hall, the Fernie Ghostriders have the luxury of being able to play either goalie and knowing they can win. Kunyk has won 16 of 20 games and head coach-GM Ty Valin said, “he has done an extremely good job.”
“It’s a hard position for anybody to play, but especially when it’s your first year,” he said.
Since joining the Ghostriders from Golden at the deadline, Hall has four wins in nine games with a .927 SP and a 2.66 goals against average.
“He’s got a reputation as being one of the top goaltenders in the league. He has done it for three seasons and we have that confidence in him. You know what you’re going to get out of Levi on a nightly basis.”
Together, Matt Fleet and Ryder Ponto have a .912 SP and a 2.57 GAA for the Kimberley Dynamiters.
“It’s very comforting to have two starting caliber goaltenders,” said head coach-GM Derek Stuart. “Matt and Ryder work very well together and accept their roles.”
Fleet recently committed to the Vancouver Island University Mariners and Stuart said through his work ethic and determination, he has turned into “a championship-winning starting goalie last season and is a huge part of our team again this season.”
Fleet has won 16 of his 27 games. Ponto is 10-2-0 in 14 games with a .918 SP and a 2.25 GAA average. In a previous Notebook highlighting rookies, Stuart said that Ponto is learning from Fleet.
“Both goalies give us a chance to win. Ryder continues to impress every practice and start. He has shown us that he is more than capable of playing against anyone and he has earned the complete trust of his teammates and coaches.”
Columbia Valley Rockies head coach-GM Tayler Sincennes feels they have the perfect situation with Nate Glenn, 20, and Jaiden Jakubowski, 18.
“Glenn has come back and performed really well,” said Sincennes, noting that the Cary, NC product is among the best in most statistical categories.
Glenn plays with a calm confidence and as Sincennes says, doesn’t get over emotional.
“It almost looks nonchalant, but he’s making huge saves,” he said.
Jakubowski relies on his athleticism.
“He makes the big athletic Dominik Hasek-type saves,” said Sincennes. “When Nate went down, Jaiden stepped up and played really well. It’s 1A, 1B for us.”
Dario Cantini and Jacob Burnside have combined to earn the Creston Valley Thunder Cats 19 wins. They have a 3.28 GAA and a .900 SP. Cantini leads the duo with 12 wins, a .920 SP and a 2.83 GAA.
“Dario and Jacob have had good chemistry and they push each other in practice daily. It’s been a good tandem, with each having some solid performances over the season,” said head coach-GM Brad Tobin. “Dario’s started to find his groove as of late, he’s really started to get that confidence that he can take over a game with saves in key moments. His communication and leadership qualities have shown throughout the season.”
Eighteen-year-olds Kaeden Serpa and Alex Jessey are sharing the Golden Rockets crease after they moved on from Levi Hall. Interim head coach Jed Houseman said Serpa has been consistent all year, seeing a lot of shots and providing solid gameplay.
“He’s of high character, a very positive individual and a great team player,” said Houseman. “His lateral movement, and being able to track pucks through traffic are really good.
“Jessey has had some busy nights as well, he’s competitive and wants to stay in the net,” continued Houseman. “His game is continuing to grow and he has good rebound.”
Houseman believes the Rockets goalies have a bright future and hopes they “learned from a goalie like Levi Hall.”
Neil Murdoch Division
Connor Stojan (21 wins) and Landan Uzeloc (nine wins) have given the Beaver Valley Nitehawks solid goaltending. The pair have combined for a 2.35 GAA and a .922 SP and helped the Nitehawks win 16 straight games, dating back to Dec. 8. That streak was snapped by Grand Forks in a 3-2 shootout loss on Feb.6. During that time, Stojan went 10-0 with a 2.27 GAA and a .929 SP, while Uzeloc was 6-0 with a 2.19 GAA and a .924 SP.
For most of the season the Grand Forks Border Bruins had veteran Ethan Shebansky and rookie Matthew Dovichak. Another rookie in Gabe Osmond was added in a trade from Princeton, though he has played 111 minutes. In that small frame of work, head coach-GM Dave Hnatiuk has liked what Osmond has given and said he’s “a very capable goalie.”
“We have Ethan there to lean on for Matthew and gain experience with. It’s gone really well and Matthew is having a great year,” said Hnatiuk. “Matthew gives us a chance to win every time he plays. He has been stellar when called upon.”
Jackson McLeod and Karl Soneff are pushing each other to be their best for the Nelson Leafs.
“Everyday is a compete day for them and that fits right into our culture,” said Leafs head coach Briar McNaney.
Soneff has four wins in six games since joining the Leafs with a 2.66 GAA and a .903 SP.
“I feel Karl has come in and been one of the top goaltenders in the league since joining us,” he said. “His professionalism is second to none and the rest of the team sees that. He has been as advertised and more since day one.”
McLeod has played better in the second half of the season after what McNaney said was a “tough adjustment period.”
“He is really starting to buy into what we are laying down as far as tweaks to his game goes and it is helping quite a bit. I am proud of the progress he has made on and off the ice throughout the year,” said McNaney of McLeod, who is 9-1-0 since Nov. 10 with a 2.84 GAA and a .894 SP.
The Castlegar Rebels tandem of Ethan Lawczynski and Matteo Hueston, both 20, have combined for a 3.09 GAA and a .908 SP.
In an earlier KIJHL Notebook, head coach Nicholas Headrick said they chose to go with two 20-year-olds to give their team the best chance to win. Especially with having many back-to-back games.
Hueston has 10 of their 19 wins and has a 2.70 GAA. Hueston is known for being calm and composed in goal, and Lawczynski can be counted on for big saves in key moments.
Spokane Braves head coach Darin Schumacher likes that Tworkowski and Jack Wood have work well together and developed all season.
“Andrew is having a great year, proving himself each game,” said Schumacher. “He has earned a lot of confidence and really helped our young team.”
“Jack has been battling injuries all year and is an extremely talented young goalie. He needs to heal this offseason and come back strong for his team,” said Schumacher, as Wood has an .853 SP in 14 games. “Throughout his injury issues, he has worked hard and remained a solid teammate and a great goalie partner.”
Bill Ohlhausen Division
The Princeton Posse have a new tandem with Joey Hawco and Blake Sittler. Hawco played his first game on Jan. 9 and has won three of his five games with a 1.80 GAA and a .934 SP with two shutouts. Sittler is 4-0 with a 1.75 GAA and a .935 SP and one shutout.
“Regardless of who plays, we’re getting a quality chance to win a hockey game,” said head coach Mark Readman. “They play different styles. Joey is a little bit undersized, but super fast and agile. We are seeing progressions and he’s explosive as he allows his athleticism to help make some big saves. Blake is quick and more of a block-style goaltender. He’s a bit bigger and smothers rebounds. He has been really efficient, growing his game and getting that confidence.”
Josh Hager and Michael Malinowski have a 3.24 GAA and a .910 SP for the North Okanagan Knights. Knights head coach-GM Liam McOnie said Hager has had really good performances and has a 2.53 GAA with a .934 SP.
“The playoff games he got into last year, he was really good,” said McOnie as Hager had a win in three games to go with a 2.83 GAA and a .927 SP.
McOnie feels rookie Michael Malinowski has done an excellent job and has a .902 SP.
“Mike has done an excellent job of pushing Josh. He has been really solid as well and I really like the tandem.”
The Osoyoos Coyotes have counted on Arntsen to play most of their games (11 wins in 31 games), and he’s been supported well by late addition Hayden Lee.
“Hunter’s overall game has improved greatly with rebound control and positional awareness every game he has played,” said Law. “He has been a complete competitor who controls his emotions and keeps the players around him more focused.”
“Hayden, when called upon, has stepped in and done a fine job. He is getting quicker and his recovery has improved with his shot control. He has good puck moving skills and can definitely get the puck up ice when the opportunity presents itself.”
Brendan Smith has been carrying the workload for Kelowna Chiefs with consistent play and as a dressing room leader. Head coach Travers Rebman sees Smith raising his play to be ready for the KIJHL Teck Cup playoffs.
“You can see some added focus and determination so we are looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish in the postseason,” said Rebman.
James Hunt, who has played in three games, has been a good addition, especially in terms of the competition he brings.
“He’s got a lot of pride and is always eager to get in net.”
There was optimism around Derek Sparks, but he was challenged by injuries and has gone home for the rest of the season to take care of his health.
The Summerland Steam have Jasper Tait and Josh Muir as their main duo with Zackary Garnett, 17, as their third goalie.
“They are not only good goalies, they are really good kids as well,” said interim head coach John DePourcq.
Tait has had a good season thanks to his off-season work, resulting in a .916 SP.
“The kid has stolen games for us and kept us in it,” said DePourcq. “He just never gives up and is positionally sound. He is competitive. He plays hard every time he is out there.”
With the team pushing for a playoff spot, Tait has been leaned on. Muir has played in 13 games, understanding his role and making sure he is ready by putting in the work during practice.
Garnett, who earned his first KIJHL win on Oct. 7 versus 100 Mile House and is learning from his teammates and working with their goalie coach Pierce Diamond from DiamondCut Goaltending.
Doug Birks Division
The Revelstoke Grizzlies have Jozef Kuchaslo (17 wins), the reigning KIJHL Top Goalie, and Montreal native Louis Adler (14 wins) as their tandem, who have combined for a 1.79 GAA and a .933 SP.
“I like our goalies. They compete and push each other in practice,” said Grizzlies head coach Jiri Novak. “Joe is a good example for Louis and is pushing him to be a better goalie for the future. He has set a standard and showed him what it means to be a good goalie in the KIJHL.”
Novak said that Adler has developed well and also pushes Kuchaslo.
“Joe is more mature and calm in net. That comes with experience. He had a good mentor in Brandon Weare and is transferring some of his experience to Louis.”
Their GAA is currently tied with the best in league history by the Osoyoos Coyotes from 2015-16 when the Coyotes allowed 93 goals in 52 games.
Jan Ludvig feels lucky with the goaltending the Kamloops Storm have in Colton Phillips-Watts and Dawson Holitzki.
“Colton in my opinion is the best goaltender in the league,” said Ludvig, the Storm’s head coach as Phillips-Watts is among the league’s best in wins, GAA and SP. “I’ve seen him do stuff where I just shake my head. I don’t even know how he stops some of those shots. Dawson Holitzki has only lost one game. His numbers are incredible (11-1-0, 2.12 GAA, .925 SP). He’s solid and is lucky to watch Colton every day in practices and games.”
The Storm also have 18-year-old Jaxson Haywood as their practice goalie.
“He has been unbelievable in that role because he doesn’t complain. He’s needed when Colton or Holitzki need a break and works hard every practice.”
Sicamous Eagles head coach-GM Nick Deschenes likes having an experienced goalie to lean on while having a younger goalie to be groomed for the starters role. He has that with Dylan Marshall and Gabe Bergeron, who have combined for a 2.86 GAA with an .896 SP. Bergeron, 18, has 16 wins with a 2.68 GAA and a .897 SP. Marshall has experience and is 14-5-1 in 20 games with a 2.83 GAA and a .903 SP.
“I think both of our goaltenders have played to expectations this year,” said Deschenes. “They have shared the net and we want our goalies comfortable with the opponents, especially in the division.”
Luke Roberts and Meyer Gaume provide the Chase Heat netminding with their own styles and while the duo has a combined 4.39 GAA with a .888 SP, head coach-GM Brad Fox said they need to defend better to help their goalies. Gaume has saved 962/1,076 shots, while Roberts has stopped 438/494 shots.
“They are both capable of winning on any given night,” said Fox. “Luke is a much more tactical goaltender, who is more patient in the net and that has served him well. Luke plays in the paint and reacts really well. Gaumer, when he is in the zone, he is a little more aggressive and has the ability to make really good saves at a critical time.”
The 100 Mile House Wranglers have rookies Ivan Tolsma and Owen Pettipas sharing the crease. Since Dec. 1, Tolsma has four wins in 10 games with an .895 SP, while Pettipas is searching for his first KIJHL win and has an .848 SP.
“Ivan has been a mature rookie taking the starter role and Owen has come in and is working hard to become a strong goalie in this league,” said Wranglers interim head coach Lee Hansen.