The second British Columbia Hockey Conference Prospects Game is less than a week away as it takes place in Kamloops on Tuesday, November 28. This week’s KIJHL Notebook dives into the players that make up the KIJHL Prospects team.
Nick Kunyk of the Fernie Ghostriders gained a confidence boost with his selection. He was already feeling good about his play with eight wins, a 1.42 goals against average and a .945 save percentage.
“I have a really good team in front of me which helps with those stats,” said Kunyk. “I’m very quick and agile.”
Kunyk has only faced more than 30 shots a game twice this season and has allowed 12 goals on 217 shots.
Nathan Preston of the Princeton Posse is “super hyped to get going with the team” and looks to help the KIJHL get a second win.
With 10 wins in 11 games to go with a 2.18 GAA and a .927 SP, the Penticton product feels he’s been playing very well with the support of a strong team.
“I feel like I’ve shown a lot of confidence in net,” said Preston, whose allowed 24 goals on 328 shots. “It took a bit of an adjustment after a few first games. I like to stay on my feet, move quick, be explosive and be in front of the puck.”
Preston has three games in which he’s saved 30-plus shots.
Creston Valley Thunder Cat Max Chakrabarti is one of three players selected to the team for a second time.
“That was fun and an awesome experience. I’m very excited to go again,” said Chakrabarti, who ranks third among KIJHL blueliners with 14 points in 16 games. “I remember it being a very fast paced, physical and intense game.”
The brother of KIJHL MVP Luke Chakrabarti is very happy with his play and is close to his goal of being a point-a-game player.
“I’ve liked that I’m joining rushes, playing solid defensively, and trying to keep the plus-minus positive.”
Per Hudl Instat, Chakrabarti averages 23:05 of ice time per game and is plus-five.
Brayden Gosselin of the Summerland Steam is excited to represent his team.
“I’m excited to show what I can do out there,” said Gosselin, who has nine points in 18 games, which ranks 18th among all blueliners and is tied fourth for rookies.
The Summerland product is playing with confidence and likes to be physical. When the opportunity is there, he shoots the puck.
“I like to be the guy out there on the penalty-kill and get into that corner to battle for pucks,” said Gosselin, who averages 2:57 of penalty-kill time.
Gosselin, who plays 21:31 a game for the Steam, is looking forward to joining his KIJHL teammates in Kamloops and standing out.
Grand Forks Border Bruin Ben Edwards is another getting his second Prospects Game experience. He started the season with the WHL’s Victoria Royals playing seven games before returning to Grand Forks.
“It’s an amazing accomplishment and I’m proud of getting to go back to this game,” said Edwards, who has seven points in 11 games. “It’s a pretty big privilege and a great experience. I had lots of fun and I’m excited to do it again.”
The Grand Forks product likes how he’s playing, but most importantly, said the team is doing well.
Edwards looks forward to playing with a new group of players and showcasing his skills.
“There is still going to be some nerves, but last year I just forgot to really take it all in. That is something I want to do. I want to take in the experience and really enjoy it this time.”
Will Caputo of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks is excited to be part of the team. After a slow start, the offensive blueliner has picked up his play and gained confidence.
“I’m starting to find my game and I can’t wait to show off my skills in Kamloops,” said the Trail product, who has six points in 15 games, including five in November. “I like to think of myself more as a Quinn Hughes-type player. I like to jump up in the rush, and make some hits.”
Tate O’Brien of the North Okanagan Knights has three points in 16 games. The Salmon Arm product plays an average of 18:52 a game, including 1:38 on the penalty kill. O’Brien also gets power-play time, averaging 1:21. He has a goal and an assist on the man-advantage.
Connor Grainger of the Kimberley Dynamiters is excited and happy for the opportunity to play in the game and said he’s had a good season.
While he hasn’t earned his first KIJHL point yet, he’s played strong defensively as a stay-at-home blueliner who carries the puck up when needed. He averages 16:55 of playing time a game and has won 61 per cent of his puck battles per Hudl Instat.
Sicamous Eagles centre Owen Dewitt leads all KIJHL rookies with 28 points in 21 games, which ranks him third in the league. His 21 assists also tops all rookies. The Sicamous product said his selection is a reflection of the hard work he has put in and that the KIJHL Prospect team coaches want to see “what I’m capable of with other players.”
A playmaker working towards making himself a two-way threat, Dewitt looks forward to the learning experience that will come from being with new teammates and coaches and how they like to play.
“I’ve played pretty good and I know there is room to improve,” said Dewitt. “My goal is to improve every day. I like how I’m able to move the puck and give it to teammates in areas to score and when I’m able to get the puck in the slot, I’m able to bury it.”
Hayden Evans, is a linemate of Dewitt, and is tied for second among all rookies with 27 points in 20 games. His 14 goals tops all rookies and is second in the league. The Revelstoke product is excited to be part of the team and looks forward to playing with and against the younger, elite players.
“That will be pretty fun trying to get some chemistry with them,” said Evans, adding he is also looking forward to the WHL combine testing.
Evans, with Dewitt and linemate Everett Boutcher, have been a big part of the Eagles’ success. Along with scoring goals, Evans has been happy with how effective the line is in the defensive zone.
Grand Forks Border Bruin Levi Astill is fourth among all rookies with 25 points in 20 games and is excited and honoured to be part of the team.
“It’s going to be a really fun experience playing with the great players around the league. I’m going to learn a lot from them.”
Astill, an Edmonton product, wants to learn how they prepare each night for games and what they do to win.
Tie Schumacher of the Spokane Braves ranks fifth among rookies with 24 points in 19 games. His selection is “a huge honour for me and the Braves organization as a whole.”
The Post Falls, Idaho product looks to gain more experience playing with and against great players.
Schumacher feels he’s played pretty well this season.
“I feel more and more comfortable every game and having great teammates makes it easier,” said Schumacher, who is second on his team with nine goals. “I like to play in the offensive zone and try to put the puck in places to generate offensive chances.”
Tysin Mulligan of the Columbia Valley Rockies is seventh among rookies with 21 points in 19 games. His 13 goals are tied for second. Mulligan said being part of the team is a “really good opportunity to showcase myself” with a group of top talent.
Part of a deep Rockies forward group, Mulligan has played a big part in them being one of the best teams in the league.
“It’s a really good start and I attribute it to the team I’m on. We have all had a really good start. I came into the season with a shoot-first mentality and it’s been paying off on the scoreboard,” he said. “I like to work hard, try to get into the areas a lot of guys won’t to recover the puck and lead to opportunities, whether defensively or offensively.”
Nathan Simm of the Beaver Valley Nitehawks is 21st among rookies with 14 points in 18 games and is excited to be joined by teammates, Connor Drake and Will Caputo.
“It’s a good opportunity to show off to the scouts coming,” said Simm. “I’m a hard worker who is good in the corners and can play in any situation.”
Averaging 15:02 of ice time a game, Simm said with each game he’s getting more and more comfortable with the speed and that’s connected to some of his production.
Connor Drake is 39th among rookies with 11 points in 14 games and is thankful to the coaches, including David Hnatiuk, for selecting him.
“I’m proud to support Beaver Valley and I look forward to showing what I can do on the ice in front of scouts,” said Drake, the nephew of Dallas Drake, a Stanley Cup-champion with the Detroit Red Wings.
The Fruitvale product wants to learn from Chakrabarti, Edwards and Phillips-Watts, who are playing in their second BCHC Prospects Game.
“I like to play with speed and have good hockey sense,” said Drake. “I can find my linemates and battle in the corners.”
Teghan Mullin’s Kamloops Storm head coach Jan Ludvig said he’s deserving of his selection because of the hard work he put in during the summer. Mullin’s 12 points in 19 games ranks him 34th among all rookies.
“He has a high hockey IQ, is a great passer with great vision and a very good shot,” said Ludvig.
The Storm coach said this experience will be a big benefit.
“It’s always helpful to be amongst the best players of his age to see what he has to improve.”
Jake Phillips-Watts said it’s “awesome” to get another opportunity.
“Last year was a great experience getting lots of exposure,” he said. “I’m excited to showcase myself for the second year.”
Adding to his excitement is the fact it’s in Kamloops in front of Storm fans and his family.
With nine points in 20 games, the Quesnel product didn’t have the offensive start he wanted. However, since Nov. 10, he has seven points in six games, including a hat-trick which got his confidence going.
Thomas Clarke has eight points in 18 games for the Storm. He looks to bring speed and he likes to use his 5-11, 190-pound frame.
“I’m a big hitter, I like to finish checks and forecheck,” said Clarke.
Jordan Brunham of the Castlegar Rebels has eight points in 17 games and feels his hard work resulted in his selection. He hopes to contribute offensively and learn from the experience.
The Castlegar product feels he’s playing well this season.
“I like to be chippy and grind in the corners, get pucks out of our zone, get shots on net,” said Brunham, who had his first multi-point performance against the Spokane Braves on Nov. 21.
Jackson Gush of the Princeton Posse called it “a great honour” to be selected.
“It means a lot to represent the KIJHL,” said Gush, who has one assist in 13 games, while playing for his hometown team.
Gush wants to enjoy the experience and learn from the coaches and play well in front of the scouts.
While he hasn’t been able to produce as he would like, he’s happy with his play and battles every night.
“I like a fast tempo game, always pushing the pace,” he said.