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Border Bruins welcome new wave of rookies

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has an exciting new wave of rookie talent entering the 2022-23 season, which begins on Sept. 23.

As part of the league’s New Wave series, here’s a look at the rookies joining the Grand Forks Border Bruins, with insight from head coach and general manager Dave Hnatiuk.​

Russell Kosec, Defenceman, Kelowna Rockets U18AAA

The Kelowna native played two games with the Border Bruins as an affiliate player and had six points in 36 games with the Rockets last season.

The stay-at-home defenceman will attend the camp of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, who the Border Bruins have a partnership with in hosting camps.

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“He’s definitely capable of creating offence just with his good first-pass, the heads-up play. I’m really excited that we got Russell here,” Hnatiuk says.

“I’m really looking forward to Russell being a main guy on our blueline this year. Even as an AP he stepped in, he ran one of our power plays, so I’m really confident in Russell’s ability. He’s very mature, prepared and has a high hockey IQ. He makes good decisions, sees the ice well and makes great first passes. He will help with quick transitions and breakouts.”

Reid Schechtel, Defenceman, Sherwood Park Oilers U18AA

The Sherwood Park, Alberta native had 14 points in 31 games for the Oilers.

“I think Reid is going to be sneaky and one of those guys that picks up some points. He’s a smart player, is physical, a grinder, and will be tough to play in the corners. He is really good at containing guys,” Hnatiuk says.

Hnatiuk believes he will be a nice steady addition that will help improve their backend from last year. “He sees the ice well and is going to be another nice piece to add some solid defence back there.”

Will Osika, Defenceman, Airdrie Lightning U18AA

The Airdrie, Alberta native is described as a swiss army knife type of guy and he can play as a forward as well. Last season for the Lightning, Osika had 12 points in 34 games.

“He is a physical, strong kid, who is going to bring some grit to our backend and if need be, I can move him up front,” Hnatiuk says.

“I’m not sure if Tyson Kistner will be back as he might make the Estevan Bruins. Tyson was one of those guys last year we relied on for some physical play and the ability to move to forward and defence. Will is the kind of guy who can fill that role.”

Rylan Numrich, Forward, Regina Rangers U18 AA

The Regina native was almost a point-per-game player with 25 points in 33 games. He also played five games as an affiliate player for the Regina Silver Foxes in the PJHL.

“I expect Rylan to come in and contribute to that third line energy type guy, and put up some points for us for sure,” Hnatiuk says. “We’re going to see how he does. It’s going to be a transition year for Rylan getting used to this pace.”

Zoltan Bencsik, Goalie, Vegreville Vipers CAJHL

The 19-year-old from Calgary played 15 games for the Vipers and had a 4.66 goals against average with a .884 save percentage.

“He is a big body (listed at six-feet, 190 pounds) that moves well,” Hnatiuk says.

“He competes hard and is very dedicated. He wants to play college and wants to win. Losing Justin Dueck to retirement and the uncertainty of Ethan Shebansky coming back, Zoltan is a big body who is going to compete, similar to Shebansky. He is fairly technical with a little bit of experience.”

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