The ever-evolving game of junior hockey involves player movement, injuries, statistics and wins/losses. The past week, the evolution of the Chase Heat was filled to the brim with actions and reactions as the regular season passes the halfway mark.
For starters, the leading scorer in the KIJHL, Josh Bourne spent two games with the Nanaimo Clippers of the Junior A BCHL, but decided to return home to his team, the Heat. That decision alone is similar to getting a top sniper on the trade deadline. But there is more – last season’s leading scorer Michael Fidanza has returned from post-secondary studies to rejoin his team as well, a very top-class, skilled and entertaining star returning to the team.
Along with that, four deals were made to bolster the lineup for the second-half run at success.
Caleb Biensch from Marsden, Sask., an 18-year-old defenceman, strengthens the back end in arriving in trade from the Kimberley Dynamiters. Added to that is 20-year-old Darion Nordick, a power forward in trade from the Golden Rockets. As the Rockets’ captain he brings leadership and a fierce competitive edge.
Also added was 18-year-old Richmond youngster Seamus Collins, a talented forward from the Richmond Sockeyes. And last but not least to this juncture in the season is lanky and solid goaltender Jared Breitkreuz, a Summerland lad obtained from the 100 Mile House Wranglers. Leaving the Heat are forward Lucas Smith, defenceman Garret Watson and goaltender Billy Cawthorn. The Heat are now a bit older, experienced and skilled.
In the KIJHL, Bourne has been recognized as the Okanagan Conference Player of the Month for November, and continues to lead the KIJHL. Defenceman Pat Brady is second overall in back-end scoring, one goal behind the leader. Six Heat players remain in the top 50 in scoring overall. Chase is third overall on the power play at 23.5 per cent and tops on the road at 26.2 per cent.
On the game front, the locals forgot their A game at home on Wednesday the 29th of November versus the Revelstoke Grizzlies.
In a 3-1 loss, Brady scored the only goal of the third period on the power play from Zac Fournier and Kolten Moore.
In a classic confrontation at home versus the Kamloops Storm on Saturday, Dec. 2, the fans watched an exciting and high-level contest. New recruit Seamus Collins popped in his first KIJHL tally in the first assisted by Evan Hughes and Brady.
In the second, Fournier added to the lead, helped by Kaden Black and Biensch. Then Moore from Brady and Black on the man advantage made it 3-0. However Kamloops came back strong, scoring late in the period to start the climb back .
In the third the Storm scored a pair of power-play counters to tie up the game at 3-3, thanks to a needless four-minute double minor for spearing. The wheels were all of sudden starting to fall off, and in the first overtime stanza the Storm finished off the Heat 4-3.
Next up is a Wednesday wagon ride to the Cariboo to face the 100 Mile House Wranglers in their barn. That is followed by a Friday the 8th encounter with the Eagles in Sicamous.
Next game at home in the confines of the Art Holding Memorial Arena is Saturday the 9th when the Princeton Posse ride six white horses or more into Chase.
Boot up, buckle up and scrunch all ten gallons down over your ears for this one.