It would be difficult to tell by their first-place standing in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Doug Birks Division, but the North Okanagan Knights are in a bit of a funk.
After going 8-1 in October, the Knights (14-7-0-1) are 1-5 so far in November after weekend losses to a pair of divisional rivals. They fell 6-2 to the host Revelstoke Grizzlies Saturday night at the Forum, and 5-3 to the Kamloops Storm Sunday afternoon at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
“We haven’t been playing a full 60 (minutes) lately,” said Knights’ forward Brett Hawrys, who scored the opening goal against Revelstoke by tipping a Dryden Profeit point shot. It was his fifth of the season.
“We come out flying in the first period and then we just shut it down. We solved half the problem Sunday (against the Storm). We didn’t get the win, but overall it was one of the best games we’ve played lately. It will pay off in the long run.”
Forward Josh Ellis (5th goal) tipped another Profeit point shot for North Okanagan’s other goal against the 10-8-1-1 Grizz.
Vernon’s Conrad McMillan backstopped Revelstoke with 32 saves for his fourth win. Tyler Reay led the Grizzly offence with a goal and two assists.
Knights’ keeper Matthew Mitchell was relieved by Zack Dueck (11 saves) for the third period after allowing four goals on 18 shots.
North Okanagan’s defence accounted for all of its offence against the 12-7-2-2 Storm.
Tyler Bolduc (4th) and Darien Head (2nd), both on point shots, and Nathan Browne (3rd) beat Marcus Beesley, who finished with 39 stops.
Dueck made 25 saves for the Knights.
“It was a great game to watch, a great game to play in,” said Hawrys. “We’re looking to carry that over.”
The Knights’ powerplay went 3-for-15 over the weekend, and with forward Matty Saharchuk (Salmon Arm SilverBacks) and d-man Mac Ferner (West Kelowna Warriors) serving as BCHL call-ups last weekend, Hawrys said it has been difficult to maintain consistency on special teams.
North Okanagan ends November with four more home games, starting Friday night (7:30) against the Osoyoos Coyotes. The Yotes lead the Okanagan Division at 13-9, but are just 3-7 in their last 10.
The 14-4-3 Castlegar Rebels visit Nor-Val for a Sunday matinee (3:00). The Rebels have dropped just one game in their last 10.
“They’re a fast-paced team,” said Hawrys. “We just have to hit them and get them off their game and we’ll be fine.”