The Osoyoos Coyotes are enjoying their strongest season in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL – Junior B) since 2010-11 when they were indoctrinated into the league, won 42 of 50 regular season games and captured the Cyclone Taylor Cup.
This year, they’ve strung together 27 wins in 34 games, sit in first in the KIJHL by a six-point margin, and have scored 84 more goals than they’ve allowed.
One of their secrets?
Two cousins from Prince Rupert.Tyler Ostrom, 20, a graduate of the Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Seawolves program, and a former member of the Prince Rupert Rampage, is enjoying his second and last year as a junior hockey-eligible player with the Coyotes and joining him is his younger cousin, Judd Repole.
Repole, 17, is also making his presence felt in the KIJHL, having already doubled his point totals from a year ago, scoring two goals and eight assists for 10 points in just 26 games compared to five in 40 in 2013-14.
“That’s what brought them down here is that they’re cousins. They’re pretty close [on and off the ice],” said Coyotes head coach Ken Law last week.
“They roomed together last year and they’re separated this year just because Judd’s a school-age player so we only have so many [billet] homes that fit school-age players’ [needs],” said Law.
Law found Ostrom when he attended the Coyotes’ annual Spring Prospect Camp in 2013 and invited the teen to join the Coyotes’ main camp.
The Rupertite soon found a home defending opposing forwards as a stay-at-home defenceman and has been doing that job effectively ever since, albeit with some bite to his game.
“He just plays a little physical and that’s kind of what we want from him. He’s a big body and he’s a presence when he’s on the ice,” said Law.
“He’s made great strides here and now he’s a team leader – a guy who steps up anytime on the ice for you.”
Ostrom has chipped in offensively with a goal and six assists for seven points thus far and has garnered 54 penalty minutes – the most on the team.
“He is very creative offensively and his first pass out of the zone has been excellent,” Law told Jen Jensen of the Osoyoos Coyotes’ official team blog.
Ostrom has done a little flip-flopping on both sides of the ice as well. Normally a right-sided defenceman, Ostrom has played both left-D and right-D, slotting in wherever he’s needed.
“He plays on his off-wing which we really need because we’re short of lefties,” said Law,
As for his younger cousin, Repole came to the team following billeting in Penticton at the tender age of 14 and has been supplying his energy and work ethic to the very deep forward corps the Coyotes employ.
“He played a good amount last year and learned our systems,” said Law.
“He’s a smaller player; we’ve got to get him thickened up a little bit. He’s a gamer. He’ll go head-to-head with anybody but he’s in a different weight level,” he added of the five-foot-nine, 155-pound framed Repole. Though, at 17, Repole’s got some time before he hits his height peak.
“He’s very skilled. He sees the ice well and he’s a fan favourite and a player favourite – all the guys on the team just love him. He’s got a very good work ethic. You know what you get from him every time he’s on the ice.”
After what the team hopes is an extensive playoff run, Ostrom has a strong backer in Law as he decides what to do with his hockey and schooling career post-Coyotes.
“Hopefully we can find him a place to go to school if he wants,” said the coach.
Repole will continue as a depth forward and move up the lines, one of which features three Terrace players.
“They’re just a great group of kids. We can roll four lines and not get into any trouble at all and where most teams probably have two number-one lines, we’ve got four,” Law added.