North Okanagan Knights aiming for sweep
The North Okanagan Knights were one game away from an opening round sweep of the Kamloops Storm Tuesday night at McArthur Island Sports Centre.
Heading into Game 4 of their Kootenay International Junior Hockey League best-of-seven series, the Knights had outscored the Storm 14-4, thanks in large part to Monday’s 6-0 win in Game 3 in Kamloops.
North Okanagan iced Kamloops 5-3 in Game 2 Saturday at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
“Not done yet, but it’s going well,” said North Okanagan rookie forward Mat Lambert, who finished with three assists for third star Monday.
“We’re sticking to our systems. We’ve got one of the fastest teams in the league, which is a big advantage on Kamloops’ (Olympic size) rink.”
Spearheading the Knights’ offence was Brett Hawrys, with a pair of man-advantage goals, singles coming from Matty Saharchuk, Mac Ferner, Morgan Johnston and Steve Hawes, with his first-ever KIJHL goal (in 17 games).
Scoreless after one period, the Knights connected three times in the second and third frames. Ferner’s 3-0 goal came with 12 seconds in the middle period.
“Both teams came out hard, but in the second period we started sticking to the game-plan and finally found the back of the net,” said Lambert. “Once we got a couple we just kept finding the back of the net.”
The Storm struggled with discipline (they racked up 44 penalty minutes in the third period alone), sending the Knights on 11 powerplays and giving up three goals. North Okanagan played shorthanded only three times.
Lambert wasn’t expecting an easy game Tuesday night, saying: “Nobody wants to get swept. I’m sure they’ll come out hard. Nothing’s going to be given to us.”
The Vernon product also said the Knights don’t plan on resting on their first-ever No. 1 seeding in the Doug Birks Division.
“It’s great we did it, but nothing’s really accomplished; we’re all at the same place. We’ve got four playoff series to win.”
Dustin Nikkel recorded 23 saves for his second-ever post-season shutout. Wade Moyls had 36 saves for Kamloops.
Saharchuk (2+2, second star) and defenceman David London (1+2, third star) had big nights in Game 2 Saturday. Derek Andrews netted a goal an assist for first star and Nikkel posted 31 saves.
Zach Tjader, Daniel Buchanan and Stefan Wood responded for the Storm.
If necessary, Game 5 would go Thursday night (7:30) at Nor-Val, with Games 6 and 7 alternating between Kamloops (Friday) and Armstrong (Saturday) respectively.