Knights stop Coyotes 3-1

The North Okanagan Knights would love to catch the Osoyoos Coyotes before the KIJHL regular season wraps up

Morning Star Staff

The North Okanagan Knights would love to catch the Osoyoos Coyotes before the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League regular season wraps up 11 games from now.

With two wins over the Yotes in the last week, they’re going about it the right way.

The Knights went 2-1 over the weekend, capped by a 3-1 stuffing of Osoyoos Sunday afternoon before 280 fans at Oliver Arena.

The Knights, fourth in the Okanagan Division at 19-20-0-1, topped the league co-leading Kamloops Storm 6-3 Friday night before falling 4-1 to the Chase Heat (19-19-0-2) in a lacklustre effort Saturday night before 200 fans at Art Holding Memorial Arena.

“When we skate, we’re a very good team and we’re hard to play against,” said North Okanagan head coach Shawn  Webb.

“It’s on them how they want to finish off this year – do they want to make some noise going into playoffs, or not make playoffs at all? We are in a position where we can still push for second or third in our division.”

The Knights struggled in the first period against the Coyotes (22-17-0-1), trailing 1-0 at the break on Colin Chmelka’s team-leading 25th goal.

“We came out and got absolutely manhandled the first 20 minutes,” said Webb, who credited netminder Zach Dyment (41 saves) for keeping his team in the game early.

Needing a change, Webb shuffled his lines, uniting Logan Mostat, Logan Geefs and Dennon Leibel, and their instant spark on the opening shift of period two set the tone for the rest of the Knights.

“From then on, the rest of the game we were on them pretty hard,” said Webb.

Colin Robin (5th goal), on a textbook breakout with Morgan Johnston and Ryan Kelm, got the Knights on the board with 6:20 to play in the second frame.

Brett Hawrys (10th) recorded the winner 2:08 into the final period, and Johnston (9th) buried a saucer pass from Blake Culbert on a 2-on-1 for added insurance.

Culbert (7th) scored shorthanded in the third period for North Okanagan’s lone goal against the Heat.

Chase jumped out to a first-period lead on Kurtis Johnson’s 14th snipe. Nicholas Fidanza (15th) and Buddy Summers (6th) scored 38 seconds apart late in the second period to put the Heat in firm control. Austin Lee (2nd) made it 4-0 five minutes into period three.

“With Chase, we absolutely spotted them a three-goal lead,” said Webb. “We carried the majority of the third period, but it was too late by then.”

North Okanagan played its fourth game in five days as they visited the Princeton Posse (13-22-0-4) for a makeup game Tuesday night.