North Okanagan Knights host the Princeton Posse Friday night in Armstrong.

North Okanagan Knights host the Princeton Posse Friday night in Armstrong.

Knights blow off Steam

The North Okanagan Knights clipped the Okanagan Shuswap-division leading Summerland Steam 3-2 Saturday night.

Morning Star Staff

Tied 2-2 with the division leaders on home ice after 40 minutes, North Okanagan Knights head coach Bryant Perrier asked his players a simple question in the locker room:

“How do you want to feel after the game?”

Knowing that there’s a better feeling when you win, the Knights went out and played arguably their best 20 minutes of the season.

Leading scorer Dean Whitcomb converted 29 seconds into the frame and the Knights held on for a 3-2 win over the  Okanagan Shuswap-division leading Summerland Steam Saturday in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League play at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.

“I think the players were ready to take the next step,” said Perrier. “It was emotional (in the room). The guys were really fired up. I haven’t seen that in the past.

“Both teams were pretty banged up. Summerland is a physical team and they were pounding us, but the guys got back in the game on their next shift. They absorbed the punishment and came back and played with no fear and reckless abandon.”

Whitcomb’s winner came after Brady Marzocco forced a turnover in the Summerland zone and got the puck to Whitcomb near the net.

Whitcomb whiffed on his first attempt at a shot on Summerland goalie Matthew Huber. He stayed with the play and got a second chance and buried it behind Huber for his fifth of the season.

The Knights outshot the Steam 10-7 in the final period and 25-22 overall in the game.

After Summerland (9-4-0) opened the scoring midway through the first period, North Okanagan responded with goals 67 seconds apart from Marzocco (eighth) and Drayton Martin (first) on a powerplay.

The Steam tied it on a powerplay marker with 20 seconds left in the middle period.

“I couldn’t be more impressed with how the guys responded,” said Perrier. “I was impressed with how they handled themselves, how they played without the puck and how they played systematically.”

Conor Webb picked up his second win in as many starts over the weekend. The Vernon product stopped 66 shots he faced in wins over Princeton and Summerland.

The Knights lost forward Logan Geefs in the second period to a concussion. The Vernon forward is listed as day-to-day.

North Okanagan added forward Levi Harris to the roster. The Oliver product played in both weekend games, taking the roster spot vacated by the departure of Mitchell Lukacs to pursue his education.

The fourth-place Knights (6-6-1) host fifth-place Princeton Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Nor-Val Sports Centre, then visit Summerland Saturday.