This week’s KIJHL Notebook begins with a focus on education with insight provided by Tom McEvay, the league’s education director. McEvay answered some questions to provide players with valuable information to consider when making that important decision for their future.
The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
KIJHL: In using hockey as an avenue to further their educational pursuits, what are three key things that the student-athletes need to keep in mind?
Tom McEvay: I speak to a lot of athletes, and tell them, if you want to go on to play at the college level, there are three things that you have got to consider.
First off, your education. If a school can’t get you in because you don’t meet the admissions requirements, they can’t get you in. You have to focus on your education.
If you want to be an elite athlete and play at the college level in hockey, you have to be good enough. Do all the things you need to be the best athlete you can.
Character is what is going to win it out for most athletes because there are thousands who can get into schools who have lots of talent. It’s easy enough for the coaches to gauge, to do the research on those two things. Character is the thing that is going to get you the deciding factor. Character means how you conduct your life, how you treat other people, what you give back. One of the best definitions I’ve ever heard about character is, character is how you behave when nobody is watching.
Those are the three things that they really need to focus on is education, your sport and then character.
KIJHL: What do you consider the top-three most important things a student-athlete should know when it comes to considering a U.S. college to play hockey?
Tom McEvay: I get asked a lot, how do I decide? What things do I have to consider when looking at universities, colleges, etc. I’m going to change the parameters to say there are four things.
First off, what does the school offer for education? Is it of good quality? Is the program that you are interested in even offered by that school? Why are you looking at it if you are thinking of engineering, committed to that road, and the school doesn’t have engineering programs? Engineering is going to be the long-term game, hockey is the short-term game. Education has got to be something that you put paramount.
If you’re a hockey player, you have to look at what is happening within their program. Who are the coaches? Are their philosophies something that matches with you and how you play? I’ve seen some disasters with players who are excellent, but they end up in a situation where how they play and the decisions they make is just not how that coach coaches. Where do you fit in the pecking order of that team? If you are a defenceman and they already have eight solid people in that position who are all freshman or sophomore, first or second year guys, they are not going to be having many changes. You are going to be going in there and being the odd man out. You may not even play for two or three years. You need to consider all those things.
Third thing is cost and that is all over the board. You could be looking at costs, Canadian between $100,000 a year down to $15,000. You need to know what’s realistic for you and your family. Scholarships and financial aid may determine that, but know what your number is and have that conversation with your parents to know what you can afford. If a school offers you a scholarship that is not a full ride, and you know that you have this much money, maybe it is realistic. People don’t consider this until the very end and now it’s buyers panic.
The fourth is lifestyle. Where do you want to go? What type of a school? Do you want to be in a large school? Should it be a small or intimate school? You know that the larger school you are going to have massive classes in your first or second year. That could be a deal breaker. Where is it located? Think about the type of lifestyle that school offers outside of your hockey and your schooling. I think that will be an important step.
KIJHL: Are there some areas that you have seen student-athletes not give enough attention to?
Tom McEvay: I’ve seen a lot of situations that I wish had been different. Essentially, I think the biggest problem for a lot of student-athletes in all sports, but hockey, is they have come very fixated on that. They are doing everything to prepare themselves to be an athlete, but what are you doing to be a student?
Hockey happens to be a bit of an older sport because in junior hockey you come out of high school, you graduate, very few universities in Canada or in the States are taking true freshmen at 18-years-old. Most of the time they are accepting 19-21-year-olds. So what is an athlete gonna do between the time they graduate and go to university which could be between one to three years? I’ve had athletes saying to me, ‘Oh, I’m just going to take a year off or two years off and focus on my hockey.’
That can be a very huge mistake. You haven’t done anything to prepare yourself to be a student and step into a college atmosphere where you are going to be a full-time student and a full-time athlete. It is a very demanding role and not an easy route to go. You have to prepare yourself for both halves of the equation.
Bill Ohlhausen Division
|The Princeton Posse have won seven of their last 10 games. On the trade deadline, they re-acquired goalie Nathan Glenn from the Columbia Valley Rockies for future considerations. Glenn has 11 wins in 12 games with a 2.05 GAA and a .935 SP. They made that move after Ethan Rau signed with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. With the Posse, Rau won 11 of 18 games and had a 2.45 GAA with a .923 save percentage.
On Dec. 1, the Posse signed Ty Russell from the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers. Since joining the Posse, the 6-1, 180-pound forward has six goals and 12 points in 11 games. In 11 games with the Steelers, the Calgary product had one assist.
|The Osoyoos Coyotes have won eight of their last 10 games. Head coach Ken Law says the players are buying into the systems and making sure that everyone is accountable.
“I think the biggest thing is we are working as a unit, every unit that goes out there is paying the price to get the job done and using each other,” said Law. “We’ve got pretty good puck movement, we seem to buzz the other team pretty well and it starts with the back end and the forwards come up with big time plays when we need them.”
On January 9, Law traded the playing rights to 2003-born forward Crae Dawson, 2004-born forward Kieran Christianson, 2004-born defenceman Charlie Lockhart and future considerations to the Nelson Leafs to acquire the playing rights of 2003-born forward Joe Davidson and 2003-born forward Marko Pavlovic. It’s a deal that Law feels works out well for both teams.
“Joe is a very offensive-minded forward, he’s a big power-forward and he has been in the league for three years already and when you can get a guy like that, who was leading their team in points, it’s exciting for the group that we’re bringing him into.
“When you can get a six-foot-seven guy and he skates well, and he has some stuff to offer, it’s hard to pass him up,” Law said of Pavlovic. “We think he hasn’t reached his potential yet. If we work with him, and get him on page with the guys we have now, I think he will turn out to be a very rewarding player.”
Both players made their Coyotes debut on Wednesday against Kelowna and Davidson had two goals and four assists, while Pavlovic had two assists.
|The North Okanagan Knights have five wins in their last 10. On deadline day, the Knights made some moves acquiring Colton Fleming from the Kamloops Storm for future considerations. They also dealt defenceman Ben Van Langen to 100 Mile House for future considerations, forward Jake Watson to Kimberley for future considerations and acquired forward Tyler Badger from the Grande Prairie Wheat Kings for future considerations.
|The Summerland Steam have won three games in their last 10. Tristan Weill, who had returned from the Winkler Flyers, produced eight goals and 16 points in 14 games and was moved to Kimberley for rookie Luke Rothfos and future considerations. Rothfos had 13 points in 28 games. The Steam also moved Connor Nicolay, who had 18 points in 26 games, to the Chilliwack Jets of the PJHL for future considerations. Jacob Rausch, who they acquired from the Kelowna Chiefs on December 1, has three points in eight games.
|The Kelowna Chiefs have won two of their last 10 games, as of Wednesday night. Maddix McCagherty collected his first KIJHL point after joining the team from the WHL on January 7. He scored the lone Chiefs goal, short-handed, in their 12-1 loss to Osoyoos Wednesday. Captain Patrick Ferrie returned to the lineup from injury January 7.
|Doug Birks Division
|The Revelstoke Grizzlies have five wins in their last 10. The only move they made on deadline day was trading Wyatt Sorken to the Chilliwack Jets of the PJHL for future considerations.
|The Kamloops Storm have seven wins in their last 10 games and head coach Jan Ludvig said they have really been working on their individual skill development.
“That’s kind of the secret because you can win many different ways system wise. It’s only as good as your individual skill levels at different positions allow you to play in,” he said. “That’s a big improvement on our team.”
The biggest thing that Ludgiv likes about their team is the group in the dressing room. They enjoy coming to the rink, like each other and work hard for one and other.
“We’re getting unbelievable goaltending from both of our goaltenders,” he said.
The Storm made one trade on deadline day sending defenceman Colton Fleming to the Knights for future considerations. The team recently had Branden Toye return from the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. In 10 games, Toye has four goals and six points.
“He’s a great kid, he’s really good in the dressing room,” said Ludvig of Toye, who will be featured in Top Shelf – The KIJHL podcast on Friday. “As far as individual skills, he’s fast and he’s got a great shot, great one-timer. He drives the pace. We became a faster team since he came back and that goes for all the Junior A guys, Jacob Hufty and Ashton Taylor. Those guys can drive the pace and make us faster.”
Hufty and Taylor were signed on Dec. 2 from Melfort in the SJHL. Since joining the Storm, Hufty, a Kamloops product, has five points in seven games, while Taylor, also from Kamloops, has four assists in eight games.
|The Sicamous Eagles have won eight of their last 10 games. Eagles head coach Nick Deschenes said their first two to two-and-a-half months was a lot of guys settling in.
“I’ve always felt that we’re better than our record,” he said. “Our goal is to be the best team at the end of the year, the best team we can be. If that is enough to get us to where we would like to be, then that is great.”
Deschenes said that this group has more potential than he anticipated. The lone recent move the Eagles made was adding goalie Rhys Netherton from the Knights after Damon Cunningham signed with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks. Netherton earned a win, stopping 28 of 31 shots against the Chiefs.
“He made the saves that he needed to make, I think maybe he would have liked to have one or two back,” said Deschenes. “To me, it’s about getting him in the net, getting him feeling comfortable.”
Netherton was one of the final three goalies at the Salmon Silverbacks camp. The other recent move the Eagles made was signing Warren Roberts-Lee from the Olds Grizzlys of the AJHL on Dec. 2. In eight games, Roberts-Lee has four goals and eight points, and is tied for the team lead with three game-winners. The 18-year-old from Beaumont, Alberta played 18 games with the Grizzlys last season, earning one assist.
|The 100 Mile House Wranglers have five wins in their last 10 games. The lone move they made on deadline day was picking up defenceman Ben Van Langen from North Okanagan. Van Langen had seven assists in 25 games.
|The Chase Heat have one win in their last 10. They made two moves on deadline day, first dealing Aiden Brown, who had 18 points in 26 games, to his hometown Grande Prairie Wheat Kings for future considerations, and trading Jarod Sigouin to the Fernie Ghostriders for future considerations.
|Eddie Mountain Division
|The Kimberley Dynamiters have won eight of their last 10 games. Head coach Derek Stuart liked the first seven of those games, and added this past week they weren’t at their best, yet managed to get five out of six points.
“I really liked how we were playing good team defence, before this past week,” he said. “I think the Christmas Classic helped with that motivation, but the guys have really been coming together, playing more as a team lately and that has been a big help.”
Stuart said they stole a win from Castlegar last weekend after they scored two goals in just over two minutes for a 2-1 win. He said if that doesn’t happen too frequently, he’s fine with how they pulled out that victory.
“If it happens a lot, it kind of gets you a false sense of achievement. We didn’t really deserve to win that game,” he said. “I don’t think we really deserved to win on Tuesday in Golden as well.”
Stuart wants his group to play their style and see if opponents can keep up. That is something he wants to see change this weekend.
On January 9, Stuart acquired Tristan Weill from the Summerland Steam.
“He’s going to definitely address the offensive challenges. I’d like to score a bit more, I think we should be scoring a bit more based on our chances,” he said. “He finished third in scoring in the league last year. He will definitely help in that department.”
To acquire Weill, Stuart had to move their leading rookie scorer in Luke Rothfos, someone we didn’t want to part with. Stuart also traded for Jake Watson from North Okanagan to make the Dynamiters tougher, harder to play against.
“He plays hard and likes to play physically,” said Stuart. “He can also chip in offensively. It just gives us a bit more strength and toughness in our forward lineup.”
|The Columbia Valley Rockies have won eight of their last 10 games. What head coach-GM Emery Olauson has liked is that the group is playing with more attention to detail, system play has come along,
“I think the guys are taking a little bit more pride in the D-zone,” he said. “All year we have been a team that at times get into some track meet games and we try to outscore our opponents. That’s not going to be the way the season finishes out typically. I’ve liked our defensive play a lot better and you get pretty good performances out of your goaltenders.”
On deadline day, the Rockies moved goalie Nate Glenn back to Princeton. Recently they also added Blake Hiltermann and Jack Wieninger, both defencemen.
“Blake makes our D-core a little bit older with him being 19. He has played in the league and has been in a playoff series so he is a big addition,” said Olauson. “He’s a very good two-way defenceman. He’s an aggressive player. He seems to take the right risks and plays with a lot of confidence and solidifies our right side.”
Wieninger comes from the Flin Flon Bombers of the SJHL.
“He’s a really high-end 18-year-old prospect that we believe is probably making the jump back up to Junior A next year,” said Olauson. “He’s an elite passer, a great skater and just adds to where we already felt deep, but it kind of puts us over the top.”
|The Golden Rockets have three wins in their last 10. The Rockets didn’t make any moves on deadline day and haven’t made an acquisition since resigning Liam Flynn. The rookie defenceman has two assists in 15 games.
|The Fernie Ghostriders have four wins in their last 10 games. On deadline day, they acquired defenceman Charlie Lockhart from the Leafs for future considerations, then added Jarod Sigouin from Chase for futures and moved Vin Jackson to Campbell River in the VIJHL for futures. On Dec. 1, they added Liam Fitzgerald from Revelstoke and he has 10 points in 12 games.
|The Creston Valley Thunder Cats have five wins in their last 10. On Jan. 9, they re-acquired Hassen Himour from the Nanaimo Buccaneers of the VIJHL for future considerations. Himour had 21 points in 25 games for the Buccaneers. In his first game on Jan. 10, Himour collected an assist against Fernie on the winning goal in a 4-2 final. In 2021-22, Himour had 12 points in 37 games with the Thunder Cats.
|Neil Murdoch Division
|The Grand Forks Border Bruins have won five of their last 10 games and recently clinched a playoff spot. They made no moves on deadline day, though their most recent acquisition was signing goalie Ewan Soutar from the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires on Dec. 5. He’s a netminder head coach-GM David Hnatiuk believes has a lot of promise.
|The Nelson Leafs have won three of their last 10 games and two moves prior to deadline day. The first was moving Joe Davidson and Marko Pavlovic to the Osoyoos Coyotes for Crae Dawson, Kieran Christianson, Charlie Lockhart and future considerations. Lockhard was then dealt to Fernie for future considerations.
|The Beaver Valley Nitehawks have six wins in their last 10 games. Nitehawks head coach-GM Terry Jones said that overall his team has played pretty well, though they are still looking to be more consistent.
“I think that we have come back from the break pretty refreshed and ready to go,” said Jones. “We are hopeful to make some improvements to our special teams, and continue to be better on the defensive side of the puck.”
The Nitehawks didn’t make any moves on deadline day and their recent addition was acquiring Tyson Tokarz from the Chase Heat on Dec. 29. Since joining the Nitehawks, Tokarz has three goals in four games.
“Tyson is a scoring specialist, shoots the puck well, and makes intelligent offensive decisions,” said Jones. “He has been a great addition to our team.”
|The Castlegar Rebels have won two of their last 10 games and didn’t make any moves on deadline day, but did make a trade on Jan. 4, sending defenceman Tymon Sanikopoulos to the Campbell River Storm of the VIJHL for future considerations.