Morning Star Staff
They are pretty much carbon-copies. Fast, solid goaltending and keep-it-simple systems.
And after three games of playoff hockey, the Osoyoos Coyotes lead the North Okanagan Knights 2-1 in the best-of-seven Kootenay International Junior Hockey League series.
Rookie Ryan Kelm scored at 5:57 of the third period as the Knights shaded the Coyotes 4-3 before 325 fans Monday night at the Nor-Val Sports Centre. Game 4 went Tuesday night at Nor-Val.
The Coyotes brushed back the Knights 3-1 Saturday night at the Sun Bowl.
“There’s not much difference between the teams,” said four-year Knights’ veteran Brett Hawrys. “I think it’s just the home-ice advantage and whoever decides to show up. We’re fine, we’re feeling pretty confident playing at home.”
Hawrys leads the Knights in playoff scoring with 3-7-10. He and d-man Ryley Booth set up Kelm’s winner. Kelm buried the rebound past Lawrence Langan after a shot by Hawrys.
Booth, with his third of the post-season, captain TJ Christensen (his first) and Tanner Burns, with his team-high fifth, also scored for North Okanagan Monday night.
Luc Gradisar opened the offence six minutes in, but Booth made it 1-1 a minute later with a point shot under the crossbar. Tanner Burns and Blaine Caton pocketed assists. Christensen put the Knights up 2-1 nine minutes later from the slot. Hawrys and Caton drew helpers.
Aaron Azevedo pulled the Coyotes even a minute later. Burns nicely deked Langan with 2:56 left in the period.
Colten Braid, on the powerplay, equalized midway through the third for Osoyoos.
The Knights used Vernon Midget call-ups Cole Woodliffe and Layne Greene. D-man Austin Garrington missed Game 3 with an illness.
Zach Dyment went the distance in net for North Okanagan, making 47 saves. Langan blocked 33 shots.
In Osoyoos, the Coyotes got goals from their top line of Colin Chmelka, Azevedo and Troy Maclise. The Desert Dogs held period leads of 1-0 and 3-1.
Logan Geefs posted his first playoff snipe with 3:02 left in the second period. Dyment recorded 40 saves and Langan 29.
The Knights inserted affiliate Jagger Williamson in for Reece Steenson.
Game 5 goes Thursday night in Osoyoos with a sixth game, if required, set for Friday night in Armstrong.