‘08 Western Canada club finds spot in the top-10
With the latest release of the World Hockey Hub rankings this week, numerous birth years across Canada saw new programs popping up in the top 10. One of these teams, RINK Hockey Academy Kelowna (16-3-0), is in the midst of a 10-game winning streak. A stretch of games that has vaulted them from a bubble team into the No. 6 spot among fellow ‘08 teams.
The stars have seemingly aligned for them, as they have an explosive offense, tight-checking defense, and an NHL Hall-of-Famer behind the bench.
And when a club has someone like Jarome Iginla as their head coach, is it really that surprising when success follows?
Kelowna kicked off their season with a handful of cross-border matchups against U.S. teams in which they fared relatively well. Programs such as Team Wisconsin, Chicago Fury and Cleveland Barons were all early victories.
Since then, their calendar has exclusively been full of matchups against fellow CSSHL clubs. After a slow start out of the gate, a date with No. 8-ranked Edge School served as the first real test for the club, which eventually ended in a 3-3 tie.
Kelowna look to claw their way to the top
Using that tie as motivation, they have rattled off 10 consecutive wins in CSSHL play. Resulting from this stellar stretch, Kelowna has raised their profile not only in league play, but nationally as well.
With recent victories over teams such as Yale Hockey Academy and Delta Hockey Academy (Green), Kelowna has been able to boost their position in the CSSHL. Currently they sit tied for third with 18 points with Edge School and St. George’s School.
Their biggest win of the season and a major factor in their current place in the Canada rankings was a sound 6-3 win against the former No. 6-ranked Ardrie Xtreme.
The most vital factors to Kelowna’s success have been their explosive offense and sturdy defense. 16 of their 19 total games this season has seen them score 4 or more goals, leading to an impressive plus-76 goal differential.
Smith, Verhoeff lead distribution of Kelowna’s wealth
Cage Smith leads all Kelowna skaters with 20 points (8G,12A), but it has not been the amount of points he puts up but the importance of his goals. A constant threat on the power play, he has struck three times on the man advantage as well as compiling three game-winning goals as well.
Just as it has been easy for them to fill the back of the net, Kelowna’s performance on the blueline and in the defensive zone has made it a nightmare for opponents to score. What stands out about the d-corps of the team is their imposing size.
Among these blueliners is Keaton Verhoeff, who towers at 6-foot-3 and asserts his dominance by sheer size alone. He is an absolute force in front of the net, and it’s tough for opponents to move his 190 lbs. His size is not the only strength, as he leads all Kelowna defenseman in CSSHL scoring with 11 points (2G, 9A).
Looking ahead, Kelowna will have their eyes set on continuing their recent success both in the world rankings as well as among their CSSHL group. With two upcoming games against the North Shore Warriors and Delta Hockey Academy (Black), they will attempt to prove that the last few weeks have only been a sign of bigger things to come.