The North Okanagan Knights have dropped the puck on their exhibition season as they speed towards their home opener in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season.
Newly named head coach Jim Armstrong is enjoying his first tour with the team.
“It has been going good so far. Training camp has been competitive and good,” said Armstrong.
The Knights opened training camp Aug. 13 with fitness testing and drills on the ice.
“The testing went great. All these kids showed up in great shape which makes everything easier,” said Armstrong. “Then the older guys ran things on the ice and put guys in their place. It’s been easy so far.”
Thirty-one hopefuls showed up to camp vying for a spot on the roster. Armstrong is hoping to come to a conclusion on his team by the second week in September. Until then, the camp is fairly fluid with players continually being released and brought in.
The Knights played their first exhibition game of the fall and got blanked by the Kelowna Chiefs 4-0 at the Rutland Arena Thursday night.
“It was good to finally get in a game and give the kids a chance to get their feet wet. We played most of our 16 and 17-year-olds against an older Kelowna team,” said Armstrong.
The Chiefs badly outshot the Knights 15-1 in the opening frame, but Armstrong liked the way his team responded and played as a unit in the remaining 40 minutes.
“I’m very proud of how they grew as a group. It looked like we were intimidated in the first period, but they really jelled afterwards. We played more within ourself the rest of the way,” said Armstrong.
One player that caught Armstrong’s eye was 17-year-old defenceman Trent Redschlag.
“He played well back their for us, he is a good skater and moved the puck well,” said Armstrong.
Next up for the Knights is a home-and-home series with the Revelstoke Grizzlies. The teams meet Friday at the Revelstoke Forum, and return to the Nor-Val Sports Centre Saturday. Puck drop for both games is 7 p.m. The Grizzlies went 9-39 last season.
The Knights open their regular season Sept. 12 at home against the Osoyoos Coyotes.