Veteran defenceman Braeden Dey of Team Black slips a check from Vernon rookie Damian Coljee-Fehr of Team White during the North Okanagan Knights training camp All-Star Game at Nor Val Arena. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Veteran defenceman Braeden Dey of Team Black slips a check from Vernon rookie Damian Coljee-Fehr of Team White during the North Okanagan Knights training camp All-Star Game at Nor Val Arena. (Lisa Mazurek/Morning Star)

Knights impress Van Horlick

Junior B team rolls two exhibition wins

John Van Horlick likes what he sees so far with his youthful Junior B North Okanagan Knights. Now, it’s all about playing the waiting game as most Junior A teams trim their rosters this weekend.

Van Horlick, in his first year with the Knights, knows for sure that rookie Vineet Kaila, a centre from New Westminster, brings some sweet hands to the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League team based out of Armstrong.

Kaila registered the winner as the Knights edged the Summerland Steam 3-2 Tuesday night at Kal Tire Place and pulled the hat trick as North Okanagan bounced the Kelowna Chiefs 4-1 Sunday at the same venue (Knights’ home rink, Nor-Val Sports Centre, is being used for the Interior Provincial Exhibition).

“He’s just an all-around nice player,” said Van Horlick, of Kaila, who worked some magic with winger Jordan Smith, also of New West. “He’s smart, he takes the body and he’s a complete player.”

RELATED: Van Horlick seeks homegrown talent

On the Knights as a whole, Van Horlick said: “We’re going to be an all-around team. We’re waiting on a couple of veterans. Tyler Olsen is at (SJHL Red Wings) Weyburn’s camp, Jason Scheible is in Olds (Grizzlies, AJHL) and Grady Caton and Jett Saharchuk are with the Vipers. We might get one or two of our veterans back.”

The Knights have 22 players in camp, including 11 17-year-olds. Van Horlick is also impressed with towering 16-year-old Ethan Matchim of Calgary.

“He’s about six-six and he’s a really good player. He scored the winner last night (Tuesday).”

Koltin Dodge of Vernon and Austin Madge of Lake Country both showed well in the pre-season games.

“We have a really good goaltending coach in Liam McOnie and he picked them,” said Van Horlick. “He’s being watching them for a while.”

Graham Watkins is the other assistant coach, while Van Horlick is trusting his older players to help run things in practice.

“We have a nice group of 20s. Jaden Hay (Grindrod product and major offensive threat); he’s a real leader out there. Cole Haberlack (19) is really intense and I’ve got him helping the defence. That’s my style.”

Vernon minor hockey product Jacob Brewer is making a strong bid to crack the roster up front. Brewer played for the Coca-Cola Midget Tier 3 Vipers last year and helped the Vernon Source For Sports Tigers win the Thompson Okanagan Junior Lacrosse League title.

The Knights close the pre-season Sunday when they visit the host Chase Heat. The Knights open the regular season next Friday in Nelson versus the Leafs. Vernon’s Michael Lenoury is a second-year d-man and one of the captains with the Leafs.

RELATED: North Okanagan Knights to name new head coach


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