KIJHL

Carter Rigby behind the bench

Leading up to the start of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s 2020-21 season, which starts Nov. 13, 2020, the league is publishing team previews.

These stories will highlight areas of focus for the respective organizations as well as players. We last featured the North Okanagan Knights and now we stay in the Bill Ohlhausen Division to highlight the Osoyoos Coyotes.

The Coyotes finished last overall in the KIJHL’s regular season standings with nine wins. Their focus heading into the 2020-21 season is the on-ice play. Head coach Carter Rigby felt that with the skill level, last year’s team didn’t have what it took to be competitive at the junior level. They have four returning players.

“It’s nice that I can bring guys in that I want in the program,” says Rigby.

Some key deals Rigby made to strengthen his roster included Josh Bourchier from the Summerland Steam. He also picked up Tyson Soobotin from the Castlegar Rebels. Most of it was recruiting. He also picked up Jordan Berschiminsky, a 20-year-old goalie.

“I predict him to be right up there with Curt Doyle in competitiveness,” says Rigby.

The Coyotes held their main camp last weekend, starting later than other teams. That gave them more time to find billet homes, which was an issue. They will use the next two weeks to get into game shape. They will also learn the systems.

“The nice thing is we haven’t been around for two months just practicing our skills work. We are thrown into the fire right away,” says Rigby. “We can ramp up our game play and get everyone going right off the bat. You are not screwing around with too many numbers. This is our group we are going to have. We are bringing in more guys next week. I’m really happy with that.”

Incoming rookies: Crae Dawson and Levi Carter, both played for the South Zone in the midget level.

Dawson is from Osoyoos and Carter is from just outside Keremeos. “It’s nice to bring in kids like that that are familiar with the program. They are two very highly skilled players. Defensively responsible. I put them with any rookies in the league. Those two kids work their bag off. They are working to push the olders guys.

Logan Cunningham-Defence- Selected in the WHL bantam draft in the third round by Spokane. He has already played a WHL game. He’s 16 years old, but he’s arguably could challenge for a top spot as top defenceman in the league if he really wanted to. He’s playing with a 20 year old that I brought in from junior A. He carries himself like a young man. He’s very humble. I expect him to do great things at our level.

Returning guys: Ryan Bester-looked very good at camp. Is a quick player, brings a lot of energy. He’s a depth guy. Has a lot of skill up front.

Seth Kriese- is recovering from shoulder surgery. Local kid. Fourth year in league. Can play forward and defence. When he plays defence, he can quarter back the power play and use his feet to get out of trouble. Has a lot of skill. Up front, he adds skill and depth to our forward lineup too.

Jack Henderson is coming back from the Merritt Centennials. It’s always nice to have guys who should be a junior A, but unfortunately things just didn’t work out, to get him back. I expect Jack to be a point per game guy.

Ollie Morberg- came to camp in very good shape. Very quick. He came from kimberley last year. Had wrist surgery. He’s an energy guy with skill too. It's nice to be able to put him with some skill guys. He creates room with his speed and his body.