Knights split weekend KIJHL tilts

North Okanagan Knights stop Chase Heat 3-1 in KIJHL action.

Newly-acquired forward Derek Andrews proved worthy in weekend action. Captain Steven Pantazapoulos appeared in prime-time form after missing almost two months with injury.

All was well with the North Okanagan Knights until back-up goalie Colten Wright left the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League team to pursue other things.

Head coach-GM Kris Mallette, stunned by Wright’s decision, was working the phones Tuesday trying to find a net detective before the 8 p.m. trading deadline.

“We’re also looking for a stay-at-home, physical defenceman,” said Mallette, whose club stopped the stubborn host Chase Chiefs 3-1 Sunday afternoon after falling 8-3 to the Penticton Lakers in a penalty-filled Saturday night tilt in Armstrong.

Wright, an 18-year-old Salmon Arm product, was playing behind Dustin Nikkel, going 8-4 with a 3.10 goals against average.

Andrews, obtained last week from the Kelowna Chiefs for futures, is a 19-year-old from Beaconsfield, Que. He made his Knights’ debut Saturday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre.

“He was a pleasant surprise,” said Mallette. “He wasn’t playing much in Kelowna where they basically go with two lines, but I saw potential in him. He just brings hard work and I think he can finish, and he’s eager to play.”

Alex Klintaire, 20, who recently joined the Knights from Malibu, Calif., scored his third goal of the season 39 seconds after Cole Fletcher had given Chase a late first-period lead.

Eric Chore worked a give-and-go with Andrews on a second-period powerplay (his 14th), and d-man Lee Muir added an empty-netter with 3:12 remaining. Cory Hochhausen supplied a pair of assists as the Knights went to 25-11-0-1.

Mallette said the Chiefs are showing major improvement despite a 3-31-1 record. The Heat outshot the Knights 32-30.

North Okanagan played one of its worst games of the year against the Lakers (17-12-1), giving up five powerplay goals and falling behind 4-0 after the first period.

Josh Wickenheiser (ninth), Mateja Leko (13th) and Vernon product Chris Gillies (third) scored for the Knights.

Things went sideways in the second period with six fighting majors, three misconducts and nine game misconducts issued by referee Ryan Dawson.

“It was just a poor display by us,” said Mallette. “Give Penticton credit. They’re a good team with good structure. They’re better than their record shows.”

Steven Killy, with 2+2, and Sasha Hahn, with 2+1, sparked the Lakers.

The Knights host Chase Thursday night and entertain the Sicamous Eagles Friday night.