The KIJHL Teck Cup Championship playoff action continues to be great as the second round enters its latter half with a few teams now in best-of-three battles as you can see in our playoff bracket. This edition of the KIJHL Notebook focuses on how teams are doing in their respective second-round series.
Bill Ohlhausen Division
Osoyoos Coyotes captain Nathan Hannon said their starts have not been good against the Summerland Steam and they haven’t been happy with their play until Tuesday night, as they evened the series at two.
“We’re feeling good besides the first 20 minutes usually,” said Hannon, as the Coyotes are 3-2 when opponents score first. “Once we figure out how to get past that hump that we put ourselves in at the start, then we’re feeling good.”
Hannon said their first line of Jack Henderson, Alex Ochitwa and Ethan McKinley have been good all year, but “they have been putting on a show in the playoffs.”
“It’s always impressive and fun watching those guys go to work,” said Hannon, as the trio has 44 points combined in 27 games.
Hannon said there aren’t many adjustments needed to be made in order for them to win the series.
“When we come to play how we know we can, and how we have been playing all year, I don’t think there are any teams in the league that can really beat us,” said Hannon. “We just have to play a full 60-minutes in order to win.”
Hannon said they have faced more adversity in the playoffs compared to the whole season. They had only lost back-to-back games once and then did it in Games 2 and 3 versus the Steam.
“There is no quit in us that is for sure,” he said. “It’s been good for us.”
With their series now a best-of-three against the KIJHL Regular Season champs, the Summerland Steam have received offence by committee. Tristan Weill leads the Steam with six points against the Coyotes, followed closely by defenceman Cole Waldbillig, who has five points, all assists. Parker Konneke and Grayson Chell each lead with three goals in two and three games, respectively.
The Steam have scored the first goal in two of the four games. When they do that, they are 5-1. When they don’t, they are 1-2.
In goal, Ben Lewis has played in three games, and has earned a win. He has stopped 94 of 106 shots for an .887 SP and a 3.86 GAA, while Colton Macaulay won his lone game, stopping 34 of 39 shots.
On the power-play, the Steam have gone 3-for-22. Goals for and against for the teams are tied at 17.
Doug Birks Division
Jameson Rende of the Kamloops Storm said they were really happy with how they came out after a long seven-game series with Chase. They simply ended up on the wrong side of close games, all decided by a goal.
“Our forecheck has been pretty good. We have adjusted our systems quite well to play against Revelstoke,” he said. “I think the whole buy in from the group with the quick turn around we had from the last series, one day off from Game 7 after that triple OT win, no practice in between, just to switch all our systems up and go into Revelstoke was definitely tough, but I think the boys are doing a good job.”
Rende emphasized the need for them to stick with what they are doing and to what the coaches are telling them to do.
“We are ready for a seven-game series,” said Rende, adding there is a confident group in the room. “We have been saying that since it started. We’re not done yet.”
Rende said goalie Colton Phillips-Watts has been ready to go every single night.
“He kept us in some games there in the first series and has come up with big saves against Revelstoke.”
Cole Berg of the Revelstoke Grizzlies said the team has been playing really good.
“Kamloops is a really good team as well so we have to come out every night with our best game,” he said. “Playing to our systems really well, keeping everything tight in our D-zone and then working well in the offensive zone.”
Berg said their goalie Brandon Weare has “stood on his head.”
Weare has put up great numbers against the Kamloops Storm as they lead the series 3-1. Weare has stopped 102 of 107 shots for a .953 SP and a 1.26 GAA. In seven playoff games, he has six wins with a .947 SP and a 1.30 GAA.
“He has been playing unbelievable for us,” said Berg, who has two goals and four points in eight games. “Everybody can stepup at any moment.
The Grizzlies have scored eight goals in the four games and are led offensively by Bennett Kuhnlein, who has a goal and three assists. Eight players have scored for the Grizzlies in the series.
Neil Murdoch Division
Tyson Lautard of the Nelson Leafs said their first game (5-3 win) was really strong and then the second game BV “kind of stepped up the gas”, but added they lost players to suspension and injuries in the past three games.
“We gave it a pretty hard push on our Game 3 (8-1 win) and then last night we just let off the gas a bit,” he said. “We just need to commit for the full 60-minutes.”
As a group, they have liked how they are getting to the net, including moving the puck and getting it on net. They are also playing a physical game. Lautard added they have had a few guys stepup during the playoffs.
“Ryan Quast (three goals, two assists versus Beaver Valley) is a rookie and he has just been playing a great role on our penalty-kill,” said Lautard. “Liam Noble (two goals, three assists) has been very effective in the offensive zone and he’s been making great plays.”
Brennan Wilson of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks said they have had their ups and downs, but he’s confident going into Game 5 to bring the series back home on Friday as he believes they will have a good turnout at the Fruitvale-Beaver Valley Arena.
“That really helps us play in our own barn,” he said. “It’s been a good series. I think we play some of our best hockey against Nelson as guys really like to push themselves against that team. It’s just really good hockey, both teams performing at their best.”
Good things Wilson has seen from the team is the power-play, which he feels has been clicking.
“You can really count on any guy on our two power-play units to get one when the time comes,” he said, as their power-play has gone 3-for-24 against Nelson and 13-for-59 in the playoffs for 22 per cent efficiency. “Between both of our goalies, both have had exceptional games that have really won for us.”
Hayden Stocks, who leads the team with 17 points in 11 games, has seven power-play points. Wilson himself has 12 points in 11 games and nine have come on the power-play.
“I owe it to the guys, just the energy in the room is positive,” he said. “It’s been one of our biggest focuses as a rookie team is really bringing each other up. It’s been easy to play for the guys on the team when you have a bad shift, you come off the ice, and they are telling you to worry about the next one. It’s easy to keep moving forward.”
Eddie Mountain Division
Austin Daniels of the Kimberley Dynamiters said they feel pretty good about how they are playing against the Columbia Valley Rockies, despite a bit of a slow start in the first game.
“I think we’ve been playing as a team and sticking to our system and we’ve had goals from guys all throughout the lineup,” he said. “Our depth is really showing in this series as well as our fitness, we don’t seem to be fatiguing too much. We are pretty happy with how things are going so far.”
Daniels said they like that they are keeping things simple, trying to stick to their systems.
“Our defence has obviously been something we are pretty proud of,” he said. “We haven’t let in too many goals and CVR has a pretty high offence. We have been limiting them as best we can and I think their defence has been doing a really good job this series.”
Daniels said that everyone has been playing pretty well.
“I can pick pretty much any guy on our team,” he said. “Everybody has been showing up to play every single night. It has been pretty awesome to see that.”
Kayde Kinaschuk of the Columbia Valley Rockies said in Game 1 they played really well against the Kimberley Dynamiters, winning 2-1, and said the last couple of games bad bounces have hurt them.
“We have been right there, a couple one-goal games (4-3 and 5-4 for Kimberley) and we could easily be up in this series,” said Kinaschuk. “I still think we have got the team to comeback in the series for sure.”
Kinaschuk said an adjustment they need to make is playing better defensively and simplifying areas of their game.
“We are all playing as a team and everyone is doing their part,” said Kinaschuk. “We have definitely generated a lot of offence, a lot of chances and we just have to bear down and start putting them in more.”