Knights tame Grizz
After two-and-a-half seasons, the North Okanagan Knights finally scraped two points out of the Revelstoke Forum.
Winless at their Doug Birks Division rivals’ barn since they joined the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League in 2009-10, the Knights iced the host Grizz 4-2 to end the drought Wednesday night.
“It was a great game,” said Knights’ forward Tanner Burns, who buried an insurance marker while on a 2-on-2 with Eric Chore with three minutes in regulation.
“We’ve got some new faces in the lineup and with Patrick (Chore) leaving (signed by BCHL Prince George Spruce Kings), it’s been tough. But we’ve been putting it together against the top teams lately.”
One of the Knights’ newcomers, defenceman Lee Muir, opened the scoring in his debut. Formerly of the Princeton Posse, Muir intercepted a clearing pass and wired a shot past Ethan Wood from the high slot at 12:56.
After Darnel St. Pierre equalized for Revelstoke, the Knights’ Alex Klintaire, on another interception, and the Grizzlies’ Mike Roberts, a Vernon product, traded singles to end the period tied 2-2. Vernon’s Riley Spraggs, who started the year with the AJHL Drumheller Dragons before suffering a knee injury, earned the assist on Roberts’ hard one-timer from the slot.
Cory Hochausen supplied the winner late in the second period on a shorthanded effort in front of 320 fans.
Knights’ netminder Dustin Nikkel posted 39 stops for the win. Wood, who allowed four goals on 23 shots, gave way to Vernon’s Conrad McMillan (nine saves) later in the game.
“He’s been unreal lately,” said Burns of Nikkel. “He’s been working hard with his goalie coach (Brett Thomlinson) and he’s almost been perfect.”
North Okanagan (21-10-0-1) is one point back of Revelstoke (21-7-0-2), who has two games in hand. The Knights visit the Summerland Steam (9-22-0-1) tonight and the Chase Heat (2-27-1-0) next Thursday before the Christmas break.
Meanwhile, Vernon’s Jared Suetter scored once in regulation and added the overtime winner as the Heat clipped the host Penticton Lakers 4-3 to earn their second win of the season Wednesday night.
Vernon’s Ethan Kalugin assisted on Derek Miskiman’s equalizer in the dying minutes to force OT.
There were a trio of Coastal Conference games in the BCHL Wednesday night, with the Surrey Eagles downing the Powell River Kings 4-1, the Victoria Grizzlies blanking the Cowichan Valley Capitals 5-0, and the Coquitlam Express outgunning the Nanaimo Clippers 6-4.
The Vernon Vipers (14-12-1-2) entertain the Trail Smoke Eaters (5-21-1-3) tonight at Wesbild Centre, followed by a Sunday 2 p.m. matinee against the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs (18-9-0-1).