Morning Star Staff
They are still the most goal-challenged team in the league, but the North Okanagan Knights are keeping games tight with better defensive play.
The Knights own the worst record – 4-25-1-2 – in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, but they have been in five of their last six games until the final buzzer.
The Knights lost 3-2 to the Summerland Steam in a Sunday matinee at Nor-Val Sports Centre. It was their third one-goal loss in the last five games.
“I have to give the kids credit for how hard they work,” said Knights’ head coach Jim Armstrong. “They don’t quit. We’ve rarely had a game where we’ve been outworked or haven’t shown up. They are trying hard and they are getting better.”
Adam Jones put Summerland ahead midway through the first period on an unassisted shorthanded tally. It was his first snipe of the season.
The Steam went up 2-0 with 3:39 left in the second on Riley Pettit’s eighth of the year, unassisted.
Brandon Palik’s first of the campaign pulled North Okanagan within one, from Austin Fournier and captain Dryden Profeit.
Just 78 seconds later, the Steam responded when Jarrett Malchow produced his second of the year, from Coleton Fisher.
The Knights battled back on a powerplay three minutes later with Nathan Washington netting his third, from game star Logan Geefs and Zach Andrusiak.
D-man Austin Garrington of the Knights and Wyatt Gale of the Steam were ejected for a first-period fight, while Mitchell Lukacs of the Knights and Jones scrapped in the second.
Both teams posted 30 shots with Brett Huber taking the win and Mitch Profeit the loss.
Summerland improved to 18-8-0-1, good for second place in the Okanagan/Shuswap Division. The Knights host the Kelowna Chiefs (12-14-2-1) Friday night and entertain the Princeton Posse (13-11-2-0) Sunday at 3 p.m.
In other action, the 100 Mile House Wranglers spotted the Revelstoke Grizzlies a 3-0 lead before earning a 5-4 win Sunday afternoon at the South Cariboo Rec Centre.
Grizzlie veteran d-man Kenny Batke bagged his fifth goal of the year, on a powerplay. Batke has a dozen points with the 11-13-2-0 Grizz.
Vernon’s Jeff Bochon (4-4-8) and Griffin Fried (1-1-2) are rookies with Revelstoke, who are last in the Doug Birks Division, one point back of Chase.