The 2021-22 season of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League begins Friday, October 1. Before the start of the season, the league provides a series of previews with the latest news from each team.

The North Okanagan Knights enter the Bill Ohlhausen division after promoting former assistant coach Liam McOnie to head coach and general manager following the departure of Dean McAmmond.

Main returnees:

(F) Bryan Brew, Cade Enns, Kyle Bax; (D) John Kalmakoff, Tyler Jamieson, Tenzin Bogardis; (G) Jake Dubinsky.

The quartet of Brew, Enns, Bax and Kalmakoff give the Knights a solid core of veterans who have all adjusted to the Knights in the last full KIJHL season in 2019/20. Enns led the Knights in scoring in the shortened 2020/21 campaign with four points in three games after finishing fifth in team scoring as a rookie with 23 points in 49 games. Dubinsky is expected to take the reins in the goal.

Recruits to watch:

(D) Brock Holliday – U18AAA Rink Hockey Academy – He’s a physical, uncompromising right-hand man with attacking potential.

(D) Tyler Burke – Notre Dame Midget AAA – Qualified left-handed winger / defender with great vision and playing ability.

Outlook for the season:

McOnie believes he has a smart, capable squad that is responsible enough to play solid defensively, jump in on offense and play an overall team game. With player development at the forefront, McOnie set his sights on the Knights winning the Teck Cup championship.

“The presence and leadership of veterans are two important elements for success in junior hockey,” said McOnie. “Having that, with Jake Dubinsky at the net, will be great.”

This leadership group extends to their 18 and 19 years old and some returning freshmen. “They bring a lot of intangibles to our team and I think there will be a lot of buy-in from our group.”

Coach quote:

“I want our team to play like the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s very structured and responsible. Also dynamic offensively and very fast play, ”said McOnie. “I like their discipline, the attention to detail. The attention they bring each day is obviously unmatched – they’ve won back-to-back Stanley Cups. Skill is obviously on a different level, but there’s no way it’s not impossible to replicate.

Advancing players:

(F) Owen Spanier – Okanagan Lakers (BCIHL)

(F) Zac Funk – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

(F) Steel Quiring – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

(D) Ethan Matchim – Swan Valley Stampeders (MJHL)

(A) Darius Makse – Swan Valley Stampeders (MJHL)


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