The visiting Beaver Valley Nitehawks scored three unanswered third-period goals to stop the North Okanagan Knights 6-2 in a battle of early season division leaders in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action Saturday night at the Nor-Val Sports Centre in Armstrong.
The loss snapped the Knights’ three-game winning streak.
Twice the Neil Murdoch Division-leading Nitehawks (5-1-0-2) jumped out to two-goal leads against the Knights, leaders of the Bill Ohlhausen Division (6-2-0-1), only to see North Okanagan pull to within a goal.
Kyle Bax, with his first of the year, got the Knights on the board seven minutes into the second period, and Tyler Cheetham, with his third, pulled the homeside to within 3-2 at 4:36 of the final frame before Beaver Valley scored the final three goals.
Hunter Young picked up the win in goal for the Nitehawks, making 28 saves while Caedon Bellmann stopped 21 shots in taking the loss for the Knights who, 24 hours earlier, defeated the visiting Sicamous Eagles 5-3.
The victory avenged the Eagles handing North Okanagan its only regulation time loss the weekend before, prior to Saturday’s game against Beaver Valley.
It was a see-saw game Friday, with the Knights jumping out to 1-0 and 2-1 leads before Sicamous scored twice in 22 seconds late in the second for its only lead. Kevin-Thomas Walters tied the game with his fourth of the year with just 15 seconds left in the period.
Cheetham got the game-winner five minutes into the third-period, and Cameron McKenzie, with his third, added the insurance at 13:20.
Jacob Boden, with his second, opened the game scoring for North Okanagan and league player of the week Lee Christensen popped in his team-leading fifth of the year on a powerplay midway through the second to give the Knights a 2-1 lead.
Cole Steinke kept the Eagles close, making 43 saves while Bellmann made 30 saves to register the win.
North Okanagan remains a point ahead of the Kelowna Chiefs atop the Bill Ohlhausen Division. The Chiefs improved to 6-0 – and remain the league’s only unbeaten team – after a 5-4 road win Saturday in Princeton. Kelowna has three games in hand on the Knights, who visit the league’s only winless team, the Osoyoos Coyotes (0-8) Wednesday.
Next home game for the Knights if Friday, Oct. 11, against the Summerland Steam in the front end of a weekend home-and-home series. Game time is 7:30 p.m. at the Nor-Val Sports centre. The two teams play Saturday in Summerland.