Two starts. Two wins. Newly acquired goalie Austin Buzzell has boosted the North Okanagan Knights out of the doldrums in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
The 19-year-old Calgary product registered 38 saves as the Knights clipped the Castlegar Rebels 4-3 in overtime Sunday afternoon at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
Buzzell, who earned one win in his only appearance with the Junior A Yorkton Terriers earlier this season, was especially busy in the first period when the Rebels outshot the Knights 15-6.
Mat Lambert scored twice for the Knights (he has 11 on the year) before Hunter Jenerous netted a powerplay goal with 41 seconds left in the first period.
Stuart Walton levelled things for Castlegar four minutes into the second period with his 15th of the season. Morgan Johnston of the Knights (12th) and Darren Medeiros of the Rebels swapped third-period tallies. Medeiros connected shorthanded, with 67 seconds left, to force OT. He has seven goals.
Derek Andrews, on a assist to Johnston, recorded the overtime snipe 17 seconds into the extra period.
The Rebels outshot the Knights 41-25 with Connor Beachamp going the distance for Castlegar.
“He (Buzzell) played extremely well for us on the weekend (Knights beat Osoyoos 7-2 Friday night),” said Knights’ head coach Kris Mallette. “He’s making big saves and the guys are feeding off those saves.”
North Okanagan improved to 16-7-0-1, good for top spot in the Doug Birks Division of the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference.
The Knights host the Okanagan Division-leading Princeton Posse (14-6-0-1) Friday night (7:30) and then entertain the Sicamous Eagles (13-5-2-3) in a Sunday matinee (2:00). The Eagles are two points back of the Knights.
Rookie forward Mac Ferner of the Knights celebrated his 17th birthday Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Vernon’s Conrad McMillan blocked 37 shots as the Revelstoke Grizzlies tied the Chase Heat 4-4 Saturday night at the Forum.
Dominick Hodges of the Heat pocketed the equalizer with 29 seconds to play.