North Okanagan Knights slam Steam for 10th straight KIJHL win

North Okanagan Knights shut out Summerland Steam 7-0 in KIJHL action Sunday in Summerland.

North Okanagan Knights head coach Kris Mallette had concerns his team might be a bit flat going into their Sunday matinee with the Summerland Steam.

By the three-minute mark, he said: “It was no contest.”

The Knights matched a season-high offensive output in dismantling the Steam 7-0 in front of 175 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League fans at Summerland Arena.

Riding a 10-game win streak, North Okanagan (31-11-1-2) can earn a share of first overall with the Nelson Leafs (32-11-2-1) when they host the Sicamous Eagles (25-12-2-4) tonight at Nor-Val Sports Centre.

The Knights’ No. 1 line of Steve Pantazopoulos  (2+2), Derek Andrews (1+3) and Matty Saharchuk (1+2) accounted for 11 points against the 18-24-1-2 Steam.

Singles by Andrews (15th goal) and Morgan Johnson (17th) gave North Okanagan the lead at the first intermission. A second-period pair by Pantazopoulos (11th, 12th), one of them shorthanded, had it 4-0 after two periods.

Andrews won a race for the puck before teeing one up for Pantazopoulos from the hashmarks for the shorty.

“Those two on the PK were creating a lot of havoc, and a lot of chances,” said Mallette.

Connor Richards, converting a forehand-backhand move for his eighth goal, call-up Kobe Oishi, taking a 2-on-1 feed from Brandon Shirley, and Saharchuk, cutting hard to the net, handled the third-period offence.

Dustin Nikkel made 22 saves for his first shutout. Connor DeMelo had 29 saves for Summerland.

“Nikkel was tested a few times and made some saves, but other than that we were pretty stingy,” said Mallette. “It was a good end to the weekend.”

n The Salmon Arm SilverBacks took three of six points from a BCHL weekend road trip, starting with a 5-2 loss to the Langley Chiefs Friday night.

The Gorillas responded with a 5-1 pummeling of the Chilliwack Chiefs Saturday at Prospera Centre.

Vernon product Alex Gillies sniped a pair for the 19-18-2-4 ‘Backs, who lead the Vernon Vipers by nine points for the final Interior Division playoff berth. Harlan Orr, another Vernon native, supplied two assists.

Orr helped set up Salmon Arm’s lone goal in a 2-1 OT loss to the Surrey Eagles Sunday at South Surrey Arena.

The SilverBacks are in Vernon Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the Coquitlam Express, who visit the 14-21-0-7 Vipers Friday at Wesbild Centre, scraped by the host Prince George Spruce Kings 4-3 in OT Sunday at the Coliseum.

The Express are last in the Mainland at 18-25-1.

n Former Vernon Viper forward Mike Collins, now of Merrimack College, is the Hockey East Conference’s player of the week.

The Boston product was in on each goal, assisting on the winner, as Merrimack grounded New Hampshire 3-2 Friday.

Collins leads the Warriors with 13-17-30 in 25 games and is tied for 11th in NCAA Division I scoring.