Wherever Jonas Horvath ends up on his puck path, it seems Grant Iles is sure to follow.
The two Whistler hockey players grew up together, played Jr. 'B' hockey on Vancouver Island with the Comox Valley Glacier Kings and now are reunited in the Interior at the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League with the Selkirk College Saints.
Thanks to the duo, Selkirk is off to a league-leading 11-2-1 start. In his rookie year, Iles, 21, has contributed four goals and five assists in 14 games while Horvath, 23, is playing a defensive role, anchoring the first-line penalty kill. Though he's been held off the scoresheet in his 10 contests in his third campaign in Castlegar, Horvath knows he'll slake his drought soon.
"I've been super snake-bitten," he said. "I'm playing lots, but still haven't broken the point barrier yet."All the guys are giving me a hard time about it."
Horvath added that the coaches are helping to guide him through the goose egg, reminding him he's tasked with shutting down the opponent's biggest threats and doing an effective job in his assigned role on a solid squad."We've been playing really well. We've got to come out and be the hardest team to play against, be super physical and (be) good in our own end. We have some super skilled guys who are putting up some points, too," he said. "It's a really good combination so far."
Iles, meanwhile, has settled onto an attacking line with Dane Feeney and Parker Sharp, two of the Saints' leading scorers. Iles has been named a star of the game three times already this season, but credits his teammates for helping him out.
"We're a really hard-working team. I've found chemistry with a couple of pretty good players and that definitely helped me along," he said. "We all cycle the puck really well and are quick down low. We get it to the net and score."
Iles' most memorable moment of the season to this point was getting his first goal against Vancouver Island University in October, saying the set-up was so good, he "could have put it in with the other end of (his) stick."
Though Iles has only taken 12 penalty minutes this season, Horvath said he straddles the line of legality and is effective at goading opponents into penalties.
"I'm glad he's on our team, not the other team," Horvath said. "He gets under everyone's skin."
After winning a title in his rookie season of 2015-16, Horvath hopes to help Iles do the same. Iles is certainly on board.
"We're definitely eying up a championship this year," he said.
Academically, Horvath took carpentry in his first year, securing his ticket in that field. He's building on his education by taking business management part-time so he can still work.
"That's what brought me here. It's the only place in the league where I could do a trade," he said.
Iles, meanwhile, is taking heavy-duty mechanics after finishing his junior career with the Creston Valley ThunderCats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League last season.
"It's a lot of fun. It definitely doesn't feel like school," he said with a chuckle. "It's definitely a little bit different having to go to school and having a bit more responsibility."