Brody Dale and the Kelowna Chiefs will host the Summerland Steam on Saturday night.                                Steve Dunsmoor/Dunsmoor Creative

Brody Dale and the Kelowna Chiefs will host the Summerland Steam on Saturday night. Steve Dunsmoor/Dunsmoor Creative

Chiefs buckle up for stretch run

Kelowna coach likes team’s make-up heading into final 12 games of KIJHL season.

With the trade deadline in the rear-view mirror and their roster pretty much set, the Kelowna Chiefs are buckling up for the stretch run of the 2017-18 KIJHL season.

With some key additions over the last several weeks and a mostly healthy lineup, head coach Jason Tansem likes how his team is positioned heading into the last 12 games of the regular campaign.

“This is as strong and as stable as we’ve been all season,” Tansem said. “The boys have been coming together and have been playing well the last few games. We’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Kelowna (17-13-1-4) will visit the Princeton Posse Friday, before returning home Saturday to take on the Summerland Steam.

Face off at Rutland Arena is 7 p.m. as the Chiefs play host to another Mental Health Awareness Game. Funds raised will be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The Chiefs received a boost in the new year when forward Brody Dale returned to the club. Dale, who has three goals and an assist in two games since his return, spent 25 games with the OCN Blizzard of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

Kelowna-born forward Zach Erhardt was a key addition in December and has 16 points in 10 games, while the 6-foot-5 Matt Alcorn will bolster the club’s defense, joining the Chiefs from the Campbell River Storm.

After plenty of movement in goal this season, Tansem believes the Chiefs are in capable hands with the additions of Joseph McLeod and Reign Turley. McLeod, 20, who has 55 games of junior A experience, is 3-0 with a 1.96 goals against average since joining Kelowna.

Turley, 19, was playing senior hockey in Quesnel prior to his addition to the roster this month.

As they have done all season, the Chiefs will continue to look to Brett Witala for leadership, on and off the ice. The 20-year-old captain is on a torrid offensive pace with 26 goals and 62 points in just 26 games.

“Brett came in this summer and really wanted to take on the role he has now,” said Tansem. “He’s hungry and he wants it. He’s been nothing short of fantastic.”

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