With five wins in their last seven games, the Kelowna Chiefs ended the KIJHL regular season on a high.
The Chiefs hope to carry that momentum into the playoffs as they open their best-of-seven Okanagan Division semi-final Friday night in Summerland against the Steam.
Game 2 goes Saturday, with Games 3 and 4 at Rutland Arena on Sunday, Feb. 22 and Tuesday, Feb. 24.
The third-place Chiefs finished off the regular season with three straight victories, including a 3-1 decision over the second-place Steam on Saturday night in Rutland.
Summerland took five of eight meetings between the teams on the regular season, but based on his team’s play down the stretch, Chiefs coach Jason Tansem likes his Chiefs’ chances heading into the post-season.
Kelowna is healthy and will be well-rested for the opening face off on Friday night.
“Last year at the end of the regular season, we were spent, we didn’t have much left,” said Tansem. “This year, I couldn’t feel a whole lot better about where we are. It’s been a long season, with a lot of travel. So to play (Saturday’s game) with four full lines and six D was really nice. I like our depth going into the playoffs.”
The Chiefs (23-25-2-2) have benefitted of late from the return of forward Nick Josephs, who rejoined the club in January. With the Calgary native in the lineup—the club’s leading scorer last season—Kelowna posted a 6-1-0-1 record.
“Nick’s the best player in the league, so to have him come back to us was really nice,” said Tansem. “He’s a natural leader and a nice person, so of course he’s going to be a key guy for us in the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, the Chiefs handed out their individual season awards in Saturday night.
The winners were:
Fan Favourite—Jonathan Lee
Scholastic Player of the Year—Cole De Jonge (for the second straight year)
McDonald’s Rookie of the Year—Josh Kobelka
Most Improved Player—Josh Baird
Most Sportsmanlike Player—Josh Johnston
Unsung Hero—Dylan Jamieson
Top Defenceman—Kevin Roth, with eight goals and 16 assists in only 36 games.
Top Scorer—Braeden Cyra with 15 goals and 45 assists in 49 games
Volunteer of the Year—Cameraman Carson Ivens.