Morning Star Staff
Tie one division leader, lose to another.
So went Halloween weekend for the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s North Okanagan Knights (3-12-1-3).
The Knights’ winless streak ran to 12 games Sunday as they fell 6-1 to the Okanagan-Shuswap Division-leading Coyotes (12-4-0-1) in Osoyoos.
The loss came 24 hours after North Okanagan let a 3-1 first-period lead slip away, settling for a 3-3 draw at the Nor-Val Sports Centre with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, top squad in the Neil Murdoch Division at 13-3-1-0.
“We are what we are,” said Knights head coach Bryant Perrier. “We’re a very average team in terms of our skill level, and we have to play with emotion and play smart.”
Carter Shannon scored three times for the Coyotes, who led 3-0 after one period and 3-1 after two.
Austin Fournier, North Okanagan’s game star, scored his team-leading sixth goal of the year from Colin Robin and Graham Watkins.
Daniel Paul was solid in the Knights’ goal, making 37 saves as his club was outshot by the hosts 43-27.
“We’re playing a very good hockey team in Osoyoos, a well-oiled machine, one of the best teams in the league. If we don’t come ready to compete as a group, we don’t have a chance to win. Everybody has to come with a high level of compete and be ready to stick their nose in and put the body on the line and do the things we talk about in our game plan, or we don’t have a chance.
“That’s what happened in the first period Sunday. We made a couple of adjustments, had a talk to the group about it and we outscored them 1-0 in the second period. We made one mistake in the third, they make it 4-1 and the game’s over. We just ran out of gas.”
Tristan Quiring helped the Knights earn a single point at home Saturday, stopping 50 of 53 shots to earn game star honours.
The Nitehawks outshot North Okanagan 53-20, but it was the Knights who jumped out to a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes on two goals from Mitchell Cobbett (2nd and 3rd) and one from Cameron Welch (2nd).
Beaver Valley got power play goals in the first and second periods from game star Tyler Ghirardosi before Dylan Heppler tied the contest two minutes into the final frame.
“We blocked 29 shots in that game and I think of their 53 shots, about 30 of them were from the outside,” said Perrier.
The Knights sit one point ahead of fifth-place Princeton with the Posse holding two games in hand, and trail the third-place Summerland Steam by eight points.
North Okanagan visits the Chase Heat (10-7-1-0) Friday before entertaining the 100 Mile House Wranglers (12-4-0-1) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Nor-Val.
Meanwhile, forward Blaine Caton has left the Knights to join the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Humboldt Broncos.
Caton, from Vernon, appeared in eight games with the Knights this season, picking up two goals and four points.
He was a late cut of the BCHL Vernon Vipers.