KIJHL Notebook: Unsung Heroes

Tami Quan photo

This week’s KIJHL Notebook recognizes the unsung hero on teams. According to, that term first appeared in the mid-1800s, though it has its roots in ancient Greece. They say an unsung hero is a person who has achieved great things or committed acts of bravery or self-sacrifice, yet is not celebrated or recognized. The Urban Dictionary says an unsung hero is a person who commits an extraordinary act but does not receive recognition or proper respect. It’s time to give both to these players.


Doug Birks Division


Ty Horner brings a consistent work ethic to the Kamloops Storm.

“He does a lot of the grunt work that tends to go unnoticed, but within our dressing room he is really appreciated and respected,” said Head Coach Geoff Grimwood. “He has a great attitude, is very coachable and is a good teammate. He is definitely a guy that we appreciate having here and we understand how much he brings to our team.”


Collin Kozijn and Ethan Mattern have been key for the Revelstoke Grizzlies.

“Both those guys work extremely hard with very little ego,” said Head Coach Ryan Parent. ‘They just want to see our team win.


Bryan Fraser of the Chase Heat is described by Head Coach Brad Fox as a “throwback to the 80s stay-at-home defenseman.”

“He’s one of those guys that gets lost in a game and won’t make the highlight reel because he is a simple player,” said Fox. “He’s hard to play against and competes extremely hard in the 50/50 pucks. He makes really solid decisions in being a stay-at-home defenceman. If you are playing against him every single night, you know that he is somebody that is going to challenge you and push back all the time. In a seven-game series, and your sixth defenceman, when you are pushing to play in games that are very meaningful, I want him in our lineup all day long.”


Chaz Sylvestre has a phenomenal work ethic for the Sicamous Eagles. 

“Chaz is a guy that we can move to any line, we can put him out on the penalty kill, we can put him on the power-play, a centre we can put on the wings,” said Assistant GM and Assistant Coach Rob Sutherland. “Even when he isn’t 100 per cent, he has still given it all he has got.” 


Reid Stumpf has killed a lot of penalties for the 100 Mile House Wranglers, and has double shifted as a centre.

“He’s a workhorse, his play inspires his teammates,” said Head Coach Dale Hladun, who recently named him an assistant captain after moving a captain and an assistant. “He does a lot of dirty work. He forechecks hard, he blocks shots.”


Bill Ohlhausen Division


Ryan Bester and Jared Gale of the Osoyoos Coyotes stand out to Head Coach Carter Rigby.

Bester has elevated his game significantly to Rigby, but he does a lot, whether playing on the second to fourth line.

“He kills a ton of penalties for us, he’s great on the forecheck,” said Rigby. “He has contributed in all aspects of the game. He’s a very good leader in the room, which I love.”

In his rookie season, Gale has made himself versatile as Rigby uses him everywhere.

“He’s one of my go-to penalty-killers and he blocks a lot of shots and flies around creating energy,” said Rigby. “He doesn’t get the top-six minutes, but every night he is there competing and wanting to get better.” 


Cody Laybolt has been a big piece for the Kelowna Chiefs

“Cody Laybolt has been a model of consistency for us and has been a real mainstay on the PK for us,” said head coach Travers Rebman, who said he has a number of players who come to mind for this category. “He is one of the guys we go to in 5-3 PK situations and him and Nick Morin have been really good 5-4. He has also been consistent on face-offs. He is progressing defensively as a centre as well and putting up some points of late.” 


Prezton Stewart and Mason Ouchi have been important pieces for the Summerland Steam. Stewart, 16, may be the smallest player in the KIJHL, but Head Coach and General Manager Mark MacMillan said he doesn’t play like it at all.

“I think because of his size (5-5, 145 pounds), not a lot of people expect him to do a lot, but he’s always willing to do whatever it takes. He kills penalties for us, scores the odd, big goal.”

Ouchi, on our backend, is someone that always over achieves.

“He is always doing a great job when he is out there,” said MacMillan. “He’s very solid and what you want in a defenceman. I always say that if you don’t notice a defenceman in a game too much, he probably had a really good game. That means he wasn’t making mistakes and he hardly ever makes mistakes. He makes a good first pass, kind of always makes the right play. He’s out there against other teams top lines and just does what he’s asked.”


Brayden Baustad of the North Okanagan Knights does all the little things right. 

“He plays hard, smart, is disciplined and kills penalties,” said Head Coach and General Manager Liam McOnie. “Being an older and mature player, he has really accepted his role of being a shutdown forward and hasn’t been overly concerned with his own stat line, but more so team success.”


Mason Mowat is a complete 200-foot player for the Princeton Posse

“In terms of chipping in at both ends of the ice, he’s relied upon defensively, plays a heavy penalty-kill roll,” said Head Coach Mark Readman. “If guys come down, or he’s needed he’s got no problem jumping up on the power-play. He has been one of our most consistent players at 5-on-5 all year. He’s got such a drive off the ice, he’s one of the most polite human beings you will come across. He works his hardest every single day and always wants to get better.”


Eddie Mountain Division


Jayden Kostiuk of the Kimberley Dynamiters has been really good for the team the past few months. 

“He is reliable in all situations. He is routinely one of our hardest working players in practice and games,” said Head Coach Derek Stuart, adding that he is getting rewarded statistically as well with seven of his 10 points coming in their last seven games. “We have been very impressed with his understanding of our team systems and his ability to execute them properly all the time.”


Columbia Valley Rockies Head Coach Briar McNaney says they don’t have a true stand alone for this category.  

“Each individual on the roster has executed their roles extremely well and has contributed in many ways to the success we’ve had this season,” he said. “To name one would not be fair to the others because I could name the entire team as an unsung hero and it would be a legitimate selection.”  


Jock Michael of the Fernie Ghostriders leads by example every day while being quiet.

“The guys respect him for the way he plays on the ice,” said Head Coach and General Manager Ty Valin. “He plays an honest game. He blocks shots, wins faceoffs, and he doesn’t care what we ask for him to do, he will go out there and do it. That is something that is huge on the team. Everything that he does – the way he practices, plays, is wearing off our dressing room – it’s contagious.”


Creston Valley Thunder Cats captain Corbin Cockerill is consistently the hardest worker on and off the ice, but doesn’t flaunt it.

Head Coach and General Manager Bill Rotheisler said he is selfless and hardworking.

“He made many sacrifices to play his 20-year-old year with us, and is the first to “sweep the sheds,” said Rotheisler, adding that while missing last season as he was unable to join the team because of the closed border, he continued to train to be ready.

Rotheisler said Cockerill is a true leader who takes care of everyone before himself and even stayed by himself in Creston over the holidays out of concern over the cumbersome process of getting back to Canada. 

“Corbin took over the captaincy during the toughest time I have seen a captain take over a group, with depleted support as he only had Camsy (Campbell McLean) there for leadership assistance at the time,” said Rotheisler. “He took over on the heels of trading a popular, local captain with not even an announcement; just pressure, a thank you to the previous captain, and unfair expectations. Despite that he has done a tremendously successful and perfect job at not only healing a fragmented room, but making it stronger.”


Brydon Foster of the Golden Rockets wasn’t brought in to lead the team offensively, but is their leading goal scorer, while currently being injured. 

“He is known more for his defensive play,” said Head Coach and General Manager Chuck Wight. “He has also shown that he has a good scoring touch in tight at the net and has good leadership skills we like.”


Neil Murdoch Division


Ryan Quast of the Nelson Leafs plays a heavy game and “understands that every play matters.” 

“He never takes a shift off, blocks shots and wins puck battles,” said Assistant Coach Adam DiBella.


Nathan Dominici and Joel Smyth played hard every shift for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, have been great teammates and continue to improve daily.

Nathan Dominici plays each shift with ferocity, blocking shots, taking and making a hit, and gives it all he’s got,” said Nitehawks Head Coach and   Similarly, Joel Smyth has been a great surprise for our team this year.  Joel always wins the impossible battles finding a way using his strength, desire and determination to get the job done.  Both players chip in with timely goals, excellent penalty killing but what makes them unsung is that their effort is always top notch, and as coaches we know we can rely on this every night.


Mitch Daines, A.K.A., (Dainesy) is a hardworking player who exemplifies team spirit for the Castlegar Rebels.  

“He’s a selfless player who always puts the team ahead of himself,” said Head Coach and General Manager Arnie Caplan. “He is a fearless shot-blocker, he’s a solid penalty-killer, and he’s a pleasure to coach.”


Ray Warrack of the Grand Forks Border Bruins has been working hard to get to the next level.

“I can consistently count on him, on and off the ice,” said Head Coach and General Manager David Hnatiuk.