Special teams’ goals helped the North Okanagan Knights end their losing streak at five games Saturday night at Nor-Val Centre.
Mat Lambert and Anthony Ruggiero pocketed powerplay goals and newcomer Blake Culbert supplied an all-planet shorthanded snipe as the Knights grounded the 100 Mile House Wranglers 4-3 before 200 fans.
The Knights clipped the Wranglers (first year after moving from Penticton) in overtime a month ago, and had to erase a 2-0 first-period deficit for glory the second time around.
“They are probably the hardest-working team in the league,” said Knights’ head coach Shawn Webb. “They are a little under skilled, but that coach (Doug Rogers) cannot be unhappy with the way they work.”
Lane van de Wetering (3rd) and Luke Santerno (12th) gave the Wranglers the lead with goals 63 seconds apart. Santerno scored 10 seconds into a powerplay with Midget Viper call-up Cole Woodliffe off for goaltender interference.
Mat Lambert (8th), on the powerplay, and Anthony Ruggiero, two minutes later, levelled things in the second period.
D-man Mathew Halvorson put the Knights ahead 30 seconds into the third, on a powerplay. Dennon Leibel and Lambert drew assists.
Michael Lynch (2nd) equalized for 100 Mile (6-8-0-2) four minutes later, but Culbert blocked a shot, outraced a defender down ice and fooled goalie Kristian Stead by faking a backhand deke and stopping on the doorstep for a smooth tap into an empty net.
It was the 20-year-old Culbert’s first goal since joining the Knights two games ago from the Kamloops Storm. Zach Dyment (4-6) made 25 saves for the win.
“I was almost happy we got behind because we had the lead three games in a row and lapses cost us wins,” said Webb.
North Okanagan (8-6-0-1) was without d-man Paul Biegel and centre Logan Mostat, both summoned by the BCHL Salmon Arm SilverBacks. Woodliffe, a winger, and Midget Viper centre Jagger Williamson fit in nicely.
The Knights have Tanner Burns, 20, and Ryan Kelm, 17 on injured reserve. Neither forward is expected to play this weekend in the Knights’ three-game homestand. Ruggiero has been recalled by the BCHL Surrey Eagles for the weekend.
The Revelstoke Grizzlies host the Knights Friday, while ex-BCHLers Dallas Calvin, Ryan Edwards and the Beaver Valley Nitehawks visit North Okanagan at the Nor-Val Sports Centre Saturday night. The Princeton Posse are in Armstrong for a 3 p.m. matinee.
The Knights are tied for ninth overall, with the Columbia Valley Rockies, in the 20-team loop.