Spallumcheen goalie Caedon Bellmann is taking his game to the next level.
The North Okanagan Knights netminder of the Kootenay International Junior B Hockey League team is moving on up and east.
Bellmann, 18, has signed a letter of intent to play with the Red Lake Miners Junior A squad of Red Lake, Ont. in the six-team Superior International Junior Hockey League. Red Lake is 535 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay, and just 62 kms from the Manitoba border.
Bellmann spent two seasons with the Knights, compiling a career record of 6-20 and a save percentage of .878. His play down the stretch in 2020 saw Bellmann post a .915 save percentage as he helped the club clinch a playoff spot. He appeared in one post-season game in North Okanagan’s five-game loss to the regular-season champion Kelowna Chiefs, stopping all seven shots he faced in a relief appearance.
The league’s post-season was shut down after the opening round because of COVID-19.
“I want to thank head coach and general manager Geoff Walker for this great opportunity to play for the Red Lake Miners and their first class, hard-working organization,” said Bellmann. “I appreciate the time and effort Coach Walker spent with me explaining the process of player development, open communication, player advancement and the support and passion the people of Red Lake have for their hockey club.”
The Miners finished second in 2019-20 with a record of 32-18-3-2 (wins-losses-overtime losses-shootout losses) for 69 points, three back of the pennant-winning Thunder Bay North Stars.
Rounding out the league are the Thief River Falls Norskies, Dryden GM Ice Dogs, Wisconsin Lumberjacks and Fort Frances Lakers.
Bellmann had heard of Red Lake courtesy of former Knights goalie Zach Willms, who played there the last two years, and said it was a great place to play.
The move up to Junior A would not be possible, he said, without the Knights organization.
“I also want to thank the North Okanagan Knights players, staff, ownership and fans for all their support,” said Bellmann. “I feel with this past season I have improved my mental and technical game dramatically and now I am ready to take the next step to the Junior “A” level.”
Also garnering praise is Knights former head coach and GM Bryant Perrier, who first noticed Bellmann as a 14-year-old. He listed Bellmann as an affiliate player with the squad which gave him the opportunity to practice a couple of times a week with higher-level players that were as much as six years older
Perrier became Bellmann’s life coach, working hard on his preparation and the mental side of hockey.
“We also took any negatives we had and made them positives and I felt it took a lot off my mind and less stressed, and as that happened I felt it really improved my game and in whole my confidence soared as Bryant believed in me and my potential before I saw it in myself,” said Bellmann, busy picking asparagus at his parents’ (Brad and Jennifer) Spallumcheen farm.
When not working in the back 40, Bellmann will work on getting stronger and quicker for a faster game with a higher level of players.