Morning Star Staff
One win. One loss. One tie.
Now it’s on to the real season for the North Okanagan Knights, who closed their Kootenay International Junior Hockey League exhibition schedule Saturday with a 4-2 win over the Chase Heat at the Art Holding Memorial Arena.
“Chase played a funny, scrambly style, but give them credit. They were buzzing around, working hard on an unusual forecheck that had five guys everywhere,” said North Okanagan head coach Bryant Perrier.
“Our guys got frustrated, regrouped and then we took control of the game. In the second and third period, we spent a lot of time in their end.”
The teams were tied 2-2 after one (goal scorers not available) and the Knights scored two unanswered goals in the second.
Returning goalie Josh Shank and Daniel Paul split the game for North Okanagan, who began the pre-season with a 6-0 loss to the Revelstoke Grizzlies, then tied the Princeton Posse 1-1.
“A win is a win,” said Perrier. “We’re showing progress here. We have to continue to keep working at what’s necessary to improve.”
Goalie Jared Breitkreuz, forward Grayson McMaster and defenceman Dawson Jenner were released after the Chase game, leaving the Knights with 10 forwards, six d-men and three goalies and some cuts coming in from other KIJHL clubs as they prepare for their regular season opener Friday in Grand Forks against the Border Bruins.
“At this point, we have not a bad hockey club,” said Perrier. “Our conditioning needs to improve, I’ve told the guys that, and we’re working on some on-ice stuff along with high-tempo practices.
“We’re going to keep working on positive and constructive reinforcement. We’ve got work to do. Nobody’s dusting off trophies and patting themselves on the back. We need to stay humble and stay fixated on the task at hand.”
Returning 20-year-old forward Kelsey Byrne has been named the Knights’ captain. Alternate captains will likely be rotated. The Knights visit Spokane Saturday and Princeton Wednesday.