Play the Kelowna Chiefs in the Rutland Arena, says North Okanagan Knights head coach/general manager Bryant Perrier, and “you need a stretcher, ambulance or a MASH unit to get out.”
Perrier was still steamed less than 24 hours after the Knights fell 6-2 to the Chiefs in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League play Tuesday night in Rutland, particularly over a hit to North Okanagan forward Brady Marzocco of Vernon.
“It was a targeted hit on Brady,” said Perrier. “His head was driven into the stanchion and he was knocked out.”
Marzocco, the team’s leading goal scorer with 11, suffered a concussion and did not return to the game.
“I have a fundamental problem playing that way,” continued Perrier. “I could go out and recruit a bunch of older guys and run around out there. But I’m not going to do that.”
Perrier pointed out the Chiefs lead the league in penalty minutes with 730, which is 140 more than the second most penalized team, the Grand Forks Border Bruins. The Knights are eighth in PIMS with 392.
In Tuesday’s game, Kelowna was whistled for 40 PIMs, including two 10-minute misconducts, double the amount given to the Knights (20 PIMS including one misconduct).
“I’ve had enough of this as a coach,” said Perrier. “We’re a developmental league. I’ll be talking with the owner (Dean Keller) about it. I guess we’ll figure it out and work through it. We’re going to have to push back when we play a team like that.”
Chiefs general manager Grant Sheridan refuted Perrier’s claims, saying the North Okanagan coach was in no position on the bench to see the hit on Marzocco, and that the Chiefs lost their fourth-leading scorer, Josh Kobelka, for up to six weeks with a torn shoulder joint after being hit by a Knight.
“Thankfully, I saw all of the above, and all of our games are on video so if you need any facts, please feel free to call me,” wrote Sheridan in an e-mail response to The Morning Star. “I am not prepared to defend non-factual events narrated by Mr. Perrier.
“We had 40 penalty minutes, they had 20 minutes so we were ‘punished’ according to the rules of the game.”
In the game, the Knights made the Chiefs pay for one penalty with team-leading scorer Dean Whitcomb netting his second goal (seventh on the year) on a powerplay at 8:02 of the first period, giving North Okanagan a 2-1 lead which they held going into the middle frame.
The game turned in a six-minute span early in the second as Kelowna scored four times – twice on the powerplay – to chase North Okanagan starter Conor Webb.
The Chiefs added one more on Daniel Paul to lead 6-2 after 40 minutes.
There was no scoring in the third.
The loss was the second straight for North Okanagan (7-8-1), who missed a chance to gain ground on the Chiefs (10-5-1) in the battle for third place in the Okanagan Shuswap Division.
The Knights host the division-leading Osoyoos Coyotes tonight, and the Sicamous Eagles Saturday. Both games start at 7:30 p.m. at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.
The Eagles snapped a 14-game losing streak to start the season last Friday, edging the Kamloops Storm 8-7 in overtime.
Grindrod’s Jaden Hay scored the winner for Sicamous to help avoid an epic collapse and collect the first win. The Eagles led 7-2 midway through the second period.
Princeton stopped the streak at one the next day with a 4-0 win over the Eagles.