The North Okanagan Knights fired three special teams goals en route to a 4-3 win over the Kamloops Storm Wednesday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
The Knights, second overall in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League at 11-2-0-1, looked like they were on easy street after building a 3-1 first-period lead. The Storm, four points behind North Okanagan in the Doug Birks Division at 8-3-1-2, began countering the Knights’ team speed with physicality in the second frame.
“It was a gong show, to say the least,” said Kris Mallette, Knights’ head coach. “I could see the frustration on Kamloops because of the way we were playing. It was a very dirty game on both sides.”
Tyler Bolduc, with his second of the season on the powerplay, opened the scoring.
Steve Pantazopoulos (3rd of season) scored shorthanded for the Knights’ second goal. Chipping the puck out of the neutral zone, the Kelowna product caught a Kamloops defender flatfooted before beating the Kamloops keeper with a bar-down shot.
Tanner Burns (10th) used a quick release from the high slot for North Okanagan’s second man-advantage goal.
“That was one of our best powerplays,” said Mallette. “Very simple – we were snapping the puck around and we got them out of position.”
Matty Saharchuk (7th) collected the winner with six minutes to play, firing a backhander past the outstretched Kamloops goalie.
Mallette said the line of Derek Andrews, Colton Thibault and Saharchuk has been good lately.
“They are an extremely good line down low. They always know where each other are.”
Netminder Zach Dueck recorded his third win.
The Knights visit the Revelstoke Grizzlies (7-5-1-1) Saturday night at the Forum.