Nikkel money goalie for Knights

Dustin Nikkel returned to all-star goalie mode as the North Okanagan Knights thumped the host Sicamous Eagles 6-1.

One day after looking like a mere mortal, Dustin Nikkel returned to all-star goalie mode as the North Okanagan Knights thumped the host Sicamous Eagles 6-1 Saturday night.

Nikkel was pulled after allowing four goals on just 10 shots as Sicamous slipped by North Okanagan 5-4 in the opening game of a Kootenay International Junior Hockey League home-and-home set Friday at Nor-Val Sports Centre.

The 19-year-old Kelowna product rebounded with a 40-save, second star performance at the Sicamous Rec Complex.

“He totally redeemed himself and played a really strong game,” said Knights’ head coach Kris Mallette, who was upset his team couldn’t preserve the shutout for their hard-working tender. The Eagles’ Connor Buick scored with 40 seconds to play.

“He was extremely focused after Friday night.”

Fleet-footed Morgan Johnston paced the 8-2-0-1 Knights with a natural hat trick, two of his goals coming 34 seconds apart late in the second period. Both were scored on the rush – one a wrister that went post-and-in, the other a bar-down slapper.

Johnston’s hat-trick goal was the result of some great work down low by Tanner Burns and Harlan Orr midway through the final period.

Matty Saharchuk, with a pair, and Owen Barker, scoring the opening goal, completed the offence. Orr finished with three assists, and Burns had two.

It was Sicamous’ first regulation loss of the season. They are second behind North Okanagan in the Doug Birks Division at 6-1-1-2.

“I like the way the guys responded for sure,” said Mallette. “Any time you lose and home and come back with a big win like that is a character builder.”

The Knights visit the Nelson Leafs (6-4-1) Friday night, followed by the Beaver Valley Nitehawks (6-2-1-1) Saturday.

ICE CHIPS: Burns is fifth in league scoring with 8-8-16 in 11 games, while Orr is 14th with 4-10-14 in just six games. Mallette says the BCHL SilverBacks are considering calling Orr up full-time…Nikkel’s .942 save percentage is second in the KIJHL.