The North Okanagan Knights buried four unanswered second-period goals as they bounced the Kamloops Storm 4-2 Friday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
After a scoreless first period, Eric Chore, on the powerplay, and first star Chris Gillies, with his first Kootenay International Junior Hockey League goal of the season, scored 38 seconds apart early in the frame.
“He doesn’t get a lot of shots on net, but he makes some smart plays,” said Knights’ head coach Kris Mallette of Gillies, a Vernon product.
Fourth liners Alex Klintaire and Quinton Sutherland converted just nine seconds apart midway through the second frame to supply North Okanagan (19-10-0-1) all the firepower they would need.
“It was nice to get some other lines contributing. You always like to have those guys chipping in,” said Mallette, adding Friday’s effort was a good response to Wednesday’s disappointing 3-1 loss to the Sicamous Eagles (12-14-1-1).
“Classic case of Jekyll and Hyde. We’re a team that rises to the challenge when there’s a big game in front of us,” he said.
The league-leading Storm (23-5-1-2) got a single from sniper Colten DeFrias late in the second frame, and another from his linemate, Chase Sutherland, with just over a minute left in regulation.
Mallette credited his rookie defensive pairing of Gillies and John Saunders for keeping the Storm’s top line in check.
Dustin Nikkel recorded 15 saves for the win. Wade Moyls had 22 stops for Kamloops.
The Knights are in Kamloops today for a rematch with the Storm, and will end 2011 with three more road games against the 20-6-0-2 Revelstoke Grizzlies (Wednesday), 9-20-0-1 Summerland Steam (Friday) and 1-26-1-0 Chase Heat (Thursday, Dec. 22).