The Osoyoos Coyotes are poised to be stronger than last year when they won the Okanagan Division.
The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League team is coming together nicely for coach-general manager Ken Law and his staff. The Coyotes had 42 skaters and nine goalies attend camp and are now down to 28 skaters and four goalies.
“We had a good mix of players, some veterans coming back in, some new guys,” said Law, a former KIJHL coach of the year. “Some surprises that walked on that really turned our heads a little bit.”
One is American Bobby Larue from Spokane, Wash. He is a 20 year old who hasn’t played in the KIJHL since 2012-13 with the Spokane Braves. Last season he saw action with the Cheney Icehawks in the Northern Pacific Hockey League (NPHL). The NPHL is a tier 3 junior A league, whose most notable graduate is Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson. Larue put up 12 goals and 26 points in 18 games with the Icehawks.
Law said that Larue, a member of the U.S. National Guard, has decided he wanted to continue playing. Law likes Larue’s speed, leadership qualities and how hard he works.
“He’s hard on every puck. He finishes every check,” said Law. “He’s got nice hands around the net.”
During the camp Law liked the mix of speed, talent and smarts the players displayed.
“It’s going to be easy to put our systems in place,” he said. “They have great understanding of what is expected of them.”
On Aug. 30, the Coyotes hosted the Grand Forks Border Bruins at the Osoyoos Sunbowl and earned a 5-2 win. The Coyotes had three-point performances from Scott Robinson, Connor Onstein and Hunter Johnson. Law dressed a younger team and said many of the players performed well.
“We had a lot of pressure and a lot of good things developing on the ice,” he said. “I just wanted to see our compete level. Make sure that we were in motion all the time. We found guys there that we think will be good fits for the team.”
The Coyotes have three more exhibition games before making their final roster decisions. On Friday, the Coyotes travel to Grand Forks, then host the Summerland Steam at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday. They visit the Steam on Sept. 8 at the Summerland Arena at 7:30 p.m.
Coyotes fans can expect another hard working group that is fast and a little more skilled.