Exhausted due to extra ice time, the North Okanagan Knights were told to keep moving their feet and keep plays simple.
The advice, from head coach Kris Mallette, worked wonders in a 5-3 win over the 1-19-0-1 Columbia Valley Rockies Sunday afternoon at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
The advice also worked Saturday night, but the shortstaffed Knights couldn’t catch a break in a 2-0 loss to the host Sicamous Eagles.
North Okanagan (13-5-0-1) may get some bodies back when they battle the 1-18 Chase Heat Thursday night and then entertain the Revelstoke Grizzlies (12-4-0-1) in a big divisional game Friday night. Both home games are 7 p.m. starts.
“They (Rockies) put a scare into us, but our kids played a very systematic game and got the job done,” said Mallette. “We ask them to play the same way no matter how many we have in the lineup.”
Mateja Leko scored his 11th and 12th goals of the season in Sunday’s matinee. Singles went to Brett Hawrys (2nd), Nathan Browne (3rd) and Cory Hochhausen, into an empty net (10th).
Jordan Simpson, Spencer Johnston and Joe Colborne replied for the Rockies. It was 2-2 until Leko’s powerplay goal six minutes into the third period. Josh Wickenheiser earned three helpers and Hochhausen had two for the Knights, who went 3-for-5 on the powerplay.
The Rockies outshot the Knights 25-18 with Colten Wright taking the win.
In Sicamous, Jagger Bowles and Steven Powers supplied the goals as the Eagles moved to 7-11. The shots were even at 31 apiece. Wright went the distance for the Knights.
“It was one of those days when the hockey gods weren’t smiling on us,” said Mallette. “We played fantastic. We were doing everything the way we were supposed to, but we couldn’t get a bounce.”
The Knights went to Sicamous with just 12 skaters, including eight forwards. Brothers Eric and Patrick Chore are still up with the BCHL Prince George Spruce Kings on an emergency basis, while Thomas Swales, Justin Murray, Brady Janzen, Steve Sipprel and captain Steven Pantazopoulos are on injured reserve.
D-man John Saunders was summoned to the Vernon Vipers Saturday night, but played for the Knights Sunday.