All-planet goaltending, a balanced offence and a stingy defence. It all translates into nothing but wins for the North Okanagan Knights.
Newcomer Josh Ellis scored twice and Dustin Nikkel recorded 40 stops as the Knights brushed back the Beaver Valley Nitehawks 3-1 Saturday night before 200 fans in Fruitvale.
The 10-2-0-1 Knights are 9-1 in their last 10 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League games. They host the 8-2-1-2 Kamloops Storm tonight at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
Ellis, a recent cut of the BCHL Salmon Arm SilverBacks, has three goals and five points in four games with the Knights. The West Kelowna product is on a line with Vernon’s Mat Lambert and Armstrong’s Brett Hawrys.
“He’s quick and he can move the puck,” said Lambert, who is second in team scoring with 8-8-16. “We played together in quad (Okanagan Major Midget Rockets) so we have some good chemistry.”
Lambert, an 18-year-old rookie with great wheels, drew assists on both of Ellis’ snipes, including the second-period winner, to take second star behind Nikkel.
“It’s easy to rack up points when you play with two skilled guys like them,” said Lambert, who trails three-year veteran Tanner Burns of Vernon by three in team points.
Danny Vlanich of the Nitehawks (7-3-1-1) and Vernon product Colton Thibault, with his fourth of the year, swapped first-period goals. Ellis added an insurance powerplay goal at 4:27 of the third period, Burns picking up the primary assist.
“We’re all dialed in to whatever we’re doing out there, we all mesh and we all get along,” said Lambert, a 5-foot-9, 165-pounder, who practised with the Vernon Vipers on Monday. “It’s actually a blast. It’s always fun when you’re winning.”
Josh Klein of the Knights took on Waker Sidoni in the game’s only scrap.
The Knights are second overall in the league and tops in the Doug Birks Division of the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference. The Sicamous Eagles are one point back of the Knights and Kamloops is two behind.
The Storm stopped the Summerland Steam 6-4 and tied the Eagles 4-4 in weekend play. Sicamous upended the Castlegar Rebels 3-1 in their other game.
The Osoyoos Coyotes ambushed the Revelstoke Grizzlies 6-2 Saturday before 300 fans at the Sun Bowl. Vernon products Aaron Brandoli and Conrad McMillan combined for 35 saves with the Grizz.
Vernon’s Hayden Pasacreta registered his first KIJHL goal in the Grand Forks Border Bruins’ 7-2 loss to the Nelson Leafs.