North Okanagan Knights ramp up offence early to ice Nitehawks

North Okanagan Knights stop Beaver Valley Nitehawks 5-2 in KIJHL play Friday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre.

A trio of highlight-reel, first-period goals helped give the North Okanagan Knights the spark they needed in a 5-2 win over the Beaver Valley Nitehawks Friday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre.

Colton Thibault (12th goal), on a 5-on-3 disadvantage, Matty Saharchuk (24th), on a power move from down low on a powerplay, and Mat Lambert, on a gorgeous bar-down backhander at even strength, helped set the offensive tone for the 30-11-1-3 Knights. They share second overall in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League with the Castlegar Rebels and are on a nine-game win streak.

“Our first period, we were good,” said Knights’ head coach Kris Mallette. “All three lines did a great job.

“We’re creeping up in the standings. Kamloops (Storm) did us a favour (Friday) night; they beat Sicamous (Eagles, 4-3).”

The Knights are in Summerland today (2 p.m.) for a matinee with the Steam (18-22-1-2). They host Sicamous (25-11-2-4) Wednesday at Nor-Val.

KIJHL scoring leader Dallas Calvin, with his 29th and 30th goals, handled the 28-13-3-1 Hawks’ attack, scoring the opening goal at the five-minute mark. The Trail native added the 4-2 goal in the second period.

Steve Pantazopoulos (10th) and second star Dylan Bowen (1st) rounded out the Knights attack in the second period.

Beaver Valley came on hard in the second and third periods, but North Okanagan stood tall, anchored by the solid goaltending of third star Austin Buzzell (41 saves).

“We weathered the storm,” said Mallette. “We were doing the little things well, but they came hard.”

ICE CHIPS: Saharchuk has been added to the WHL Everett Silvertips 50-player protected list.