By Dan Walton
The Oliver Arena served as a surrogate venue for the Osoyoos Coyotes in their 6–0 win over the Princeton Posse last Sunday.
“Oliver’s always been good to us,” said Coyotes head coach Ken Law, adding that Sunday’s win was a nice way to rebound from their previous game, when they suffered a 4-3 loss against division rivals the Summerland Steam.
“We worked a lot harder in Oliver on Sunday than we did Friday night.”
The Coyotes are currently leading the league’s Okanagan Division and Summerland is the only team in striking distance that can overtake them.
Although some of the KIJHL’s top performers belong to the Coyotes, Law said his most talented players are happy in Osoyoos and probably won’t be getting scooped up by any teams from the Junior A level.
“A couple guys were offered and said no.”
Leading the league in scoring (as of press deadline) is Coyotes forward Colin Bell with 20 goals and 37 assists after 34 games.
“He’s a guy that has good vision on ice,” said Law. “He finds open sticks and he’s always looking for another opportunity.”
Last weekend’s shutout was earned by Osoyoos’ backup goaltender, Liam Aitkin. It was his 10th win in just 13 games.
“Liam’s been good for us every time we put him in. We can trust him to compete and work hard. It’s nice to have such a young goalie coming along and playing outstanding. We’ll be giving him the next start too.”
Right-winger Jackson Glimpel also delivered an outstanding performance on Sunday, scoring four points – a hat trick and an assist.
“Jackson was putting pucks on net and getting himself to the scoring area,” Law said. He was in front of the net a lot and took advantage of loose pucks.”
Since the Coyotes have been winning more than three-quarters of their games this season, Law said it’s usually easier for them to stay more disciplined than their opponents, as it’s typical for players on losing teams to become more aggressive.
“It’s one of those things, trying to get a team off their stride by creating havoc; take our top players out of the game and get under our skin. But we know we have to keep our composure,” said Law.
While Osoyoos has comfortably clinched a spot in the playoffs, Law said the rest of the regular season is about keeping their edge.
“We need to make sure we’re taking care of our own zone. We have to stay on top of the little things that usually end up making the big differences.”