A huge third period lifted the North Okanagan Knights closer to a Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoff spot.
And the playoff push starts with new coaches.
The Knights scored five unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes Tuesday to stun the Osoyoos Coyotes 7-3 at the N0r-Val Sports Centre. The win pulled North Okanagan to within three points of the fourth-place Princeton Posse and five back of the third-place Coyotes.
The victory came on the same day the Knights relieved head coach John Van Horlick of his duties prior to the game, and promoted assistants Liam McConie and Graham Watkins to co-head coaches.
“They told me over the phone,” said Van Horlick on Wednesday. “I don’t want to say too much. I will say that I wish the guys well. There’s a good bunch of kids there and I enjoyed working with them. It’s why I like coaching. I like to trying and help the kids reach their goals and become better persons.”
Van Horlick was in his first year with the organizations.
Trailing 3-2 entering the final frame, the Knights tied the game nine seconds after the ice clean on a goal from Cole Haberlack, then got the unassisted winner from Player of the Game Vineet Kalla less than 9o seconds later at 1:29.
Jett Saharchuk, Jordan Smith, on a powerplay, and Cameron McKenzie into an empty net, rounded out the third-period outburst.
The teams traded goals in the opening period with Kevin-Thomas Walters and Alec McLeod scoring for the Knights, who never led until the third period.
Peter Michailides scored the only goal of the second period for the Coyotes.
Caedon Bellmann made his first career KIJHL start in goal for the Knights and made 18 saves for the win.
North Okanagan (11-21-0-1) was coming off a disastrous 7-0 loss Saturday in the South Cariboo to the 100 Mile House Wranglers.
The Knights host the Doug Birks Division-leading Revelstoke Grizzlies (28-4-0-0) Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Nor-Val Sports Centre, then visit the Eagles in Sicamous Saturday, the first of four straight road games for North Okanagan.