Knights add Churchill

Bryant Perrier said he would give his North Okanagan Knights 10 games then re-evaluate the roster.

Bryant Perrier said he would give his North Okanagan Knights 10 games then re-evaluate the roster.

After losing Kootenay International Junior Hockey League Game No. 8 Saturday at home,  2-1 to the Castlegar Rebels, and Game 9 Sunday in Summerland, 3-0 to the Steam, Perrier is on the hunt for some veteran players.

“We have to get better in some areas and we’re going to need some help; I’m looking to get that help for the club, that’s what I have to do as a general manager,” said Bryant, who doubles as the Knights’ head coach.

“I think we lack experience and some more experience in the lineup will help settle our group down and give that extra umph to get started in games.”

The search for veterans started Tuesday when the Knights acquired energy forward Travis Churchill, 20, of Armstrong. The speedster spent the last two seasons with the Chase Heat, playing just 19 games last year due to injuries. He racked up five points and 81 penalty minutes as a rookie.

Slow starts continue to be the achilles heel of the Knights, who are 3-5-0-0-1 on the year, fourth in the Okanagan Division, one point back of third-place Princeton, and one up on the fifth place Kelowna Chiefs.

In front of 200 fans Saturday at the Nor-Val Sports Centre, Castlegar opened the scoring late in the first period. The Knights tied it with 57 seconds left in the middle frame on a goal by game star Dallas Keller, his first of the year.

Rebels game star Tayden Woods beat Knights starter Daniel Paul with 7:55 remaining.

“Saturday’s game was a tight game, the shots were pretty even (28-26 North OK) and it was two pretty good teams playing each other,” said Perrier. “We had our chances to tie the game, pulled our goalie and had another opportunity. We just didn’t get it done.”

After a good beginning to Sunday’s game, which was scoreless after 20 minutes, the Steam got a goal from Michael McLean 5:12 into the middle frame to go up 1-0. Summerland – which outshot North Okanagan 29-15 – added shorthanded goals from Jack Mills in the second period and Cole Williams in the third.

North Okanagan went 0-9 on the powerplay, the Steam 0-4.

Goalies Tristan Quiring (North OK) and Matthew Huber were the game stars.

“We’re spending a lot of energy trying to make up for our slow starts,” said Perrier. “I’m going to credit the guys, we’re a really strong team coming back in the second and especially third period, except for Sunday. We have battled to get ourselves back into games but we can’t keep doing that. It’s emotionally and physically draining. You’re going to run out of gas and that was proven Sunday.”

The search for experienced players is not a sign Perrier and the organization are pushing the panick button.

“We’re tweaking our lineup,” he said. “Everybody’s doing it, everybody’s fixing problems.

“We’ll do our best to get what we can. We’re not going to go and bring just anybody into our culture. And we’re working hard to change that (culture), too.”

The Knights will serve up a pair of Thanksgiving weekend home games, starting Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against Kelowna.

North Okanagan entertains the Doug Birks Division-leading Kamloops Storm (7-1-0-0-1) Sunday afternoon at 2:30.