The game was played in Rutland Arena, but it probably felt like just as much like home-ice advantage for the North Okanagan Knights as it did the Kelowna Chiefs.
With more than half the team hailing from the Kelowna area, the Knights skated to a 3-2 double-overtime Kootenay International Junior Hockey League win before 230 fans Friday night.
Patrick Chore, who logged a ton of minutes along with twin brother Eric and defenceman Mateja Leko, supplied the winner just 25 seconds into the second OT period. He rifled a slap shot short side past Tyler O’Donnell after he circled into the slot from behind the net. It was his 19th goal of the season.
“He doesn’t take slap shots – ever,” smiled Knights’ head coach Kris Mallette, who could sense that his team wanted to put on a show in front of their friends and family.
“It was a nail biter. In the first period, the guys were definitely caught up in the moment of playing in front of a home crowd.
“Guys were chirping after the whistle, and that’s not what we’re about.”
Kelowna’s Josh McEwan, with his fifth goal, opened the scoring midway through the first period, but Tanner Burns (9th goal) responded for the 18-9-0-1 Knights with a powerplay rebound goal later in the frame.
Bryce Koch (7th), burying a limp wrister gave North Okanagan its first lead.
Tre Mason, netting his first of the season, equalized for the 11-14-0-2 Chiefs before the second ice clean.
Mallette credited netminder Dustin Nikkel (30 saves) for keeping a clean sheet in the third period and for coming up with timely saves. O’Donnell had 27 stops in the loss.
“Our difference maker last night, bar none, was Dustin. He was huge,” said Mallette.
The Knights entertain the Sicamous Eagles Wednesday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre, followed by a Friday-night tilt in Armstrong against the league-leading Kamloops Storm (23-3-1-2).