The North Okanagan Knights suffered their third straight loss as they bowed 5-2 to the Castlegar Rebels in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League play Friday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
The Knights, now 7-4-0-1, came out strong in the first of a four-game home stand, earning a 2-1 lead early in the second period. Ryley Booth, burying his own rebound after a solid rush, and Colin Robin, going backhand, five-hole on Jordan Gluck, supplied North Okanagan’s offence.
However, four straight second-period goals by the defending KIJHL champion Rebels (they beat North Okanagan in last year’s league final), derailed the Knights’ progress.
“We played the best hockey I’ve seen us play all year,” said North Okanagan head coach Shawn Webb, of the first period. “But then we had a six-minute break and forgot what was giving us success.”
Chase Reddin, Mike Bhatoa, Darren Medeiros and Hunter Jenerou all solved Knights’ tender Mitch Profeit, who allowed four goals in 16 shots. He was relieved by Zach Dyment (nine saves).
“He (Profeit) let in some pretty soft goals, and when those soft goals went in, we resorted back to some old tendencies,” said Webb. “We regrouped for the third, but ran into some penalty problems.”
The 7-4-0-3 Rebels enjoyed 17 powerplays, scoring once. The Knights went 0-for-10 on the man advantage.
Webb liked what he saw of the Knights’ limited 5-on-5 play, and feels they are close to rekindling their offensive mojo.
“It was rolling four lines, hard. The tempo was great. We created enough chances to win. We are not far from exploding open.”
Webb praised the play of Vernon Midget Tier 1 call-up Jeff Bochon, and returning d-man Dryden Profeit.
North Okanagan hosts the 8-3-0-1 Kelowna Chiefs in a 3 p.m. matinee today at Nor-Val.