Missing a few key regulars, the North Okanagan Knights used some Midget Tier 1 affiliates to earn a split with the Revelstoke Grizzlies in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
With leading scorer Tanner Burns up with the BCHL Nanaimo Clippers and gritty d-man Mac Ferner suspended two games, the Knights summoned Curtis Sexsmith, Logan Geefs, Ryley Booth and Matt Halvorson from the Vernon Home Building Centre Vipers.
Sexsmith scored once and drew an assist as the Knights shaded the Grizzlies 5-4 Saturday night at the Forum before losing 4-3 to Revy in a Sunday matinee at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.
“With Burnsy gone, a few of us had to step it up and everybody did,” said 20-year Derek Andrews, who netted the winner seven minutes into the third period Saturday.
“Our APs got a regular shift and they did really well,” added Andrews, a Montreal product. “Our coach (Kris Mallette) likes to roll four lines so our APs always get to play. It seems to work well for everybody.”
Andrews, a late cut of the Penticton Vees last year, is second in Knights’ scoring with 11 goals and 33 points.
Morgan Johnston (16th), Brett Hawyrs (9th) and captain Steven Pantazopoulos (4th) also registered snipes in Revelstoke. Johnston and d-man Nathan Browne each pocketed two assists.
Zack Dueck made 30 saves for the Knights, while Conrad McMillan (pulled after the Grizz went down 4-1 late in the first period) and Aaron Brandoli combined for 30 stops.
Braden Seyl, Devon Hascarl and Tyler Reay replied for Revelstoke.
The Grizzlies enjoyed period leads of 2-1 and 4-2 Sunday afternoon, getting two goals from Dylan Ossman and singles from Chevy Hantula and Brayden Beckley.
North Okanagan received goals from Matty Saharchuk (14th), Colton Thibault (7th) and Connor Richards (4th). Andrews had two helpers.
The Knights outshot the Grizzlies 33-19 with Brandoli going the distance. Austin Buzzell suffered the loss.
Second in the Doug Birks Division at 20-9-1-2, the Knights visited the Kelowna Chiefs Tuesday and will face the Storm Friday night in Kamloops before their Christmas break. The Knights are in Chase to battle the Heat in a New Year’s Eve 5 p.m. tilt.
The Sicamous Eagles stopped the Storm 4-1 Sunday after losing 5-4 in double overtime to the visiting Spokane Braves Saturday night. Sicamous is three points ahead of the Knights.