The North Okanagan Knights don’t seem to have a problem getting up for the big games.
It’s the lower-echelon teams of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League they’re struggling with.
After recording consecutive wins of the Kelowna Chiefs and Osoyoos Coyotes – the only teams ahead of the Knights in the Okanagan Division – Shawn Webb’s crew fell 5-3 to the Spokane Braves Friday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
North Okanagan gave up three goals in a five-minute span in the second period and never really recovered. Webb said it looked more like a game of shinny than a Junior B tilt.
“We were a disjointed mess of individuals,” said Webb, who singled out the efforts of Brett Hawrys and Dennon Leibel, who each finished with a goal and an assist.
The 11-8-0-3 Braves’ Justin Bonanno and Knights Tanner Cochrane, on a breakout pass from Ryley Booth, swapped first-period singles.
Tyler Peltram (shorthanded), Sean Collins and Hayden Boring made it 4-1 for the visitors with 4:02 remaining in period two.
Enderby’s Hawrys used a quick release on a play set up by Leibel to snipe his eighth of the year just 31 seconds after Boring’s goal.
Spokane’s Dillon Bogart and Vernon’s Leibel, who outwaited netminder Zach Straza (35 saves) before tucking home his sixth.
“The three goals we did score were scored at will,” said Webb, noting the Braves have shown a knack of lulling stronger teams into bad habits.
“They’ve beaten some good teams, but it’s no excuse. We take them too lightly and we can’t get up for those games.”
The Knights, third in the Okanagan loop at 16-14-0-1, visit the first-place Chiefs (20-8-0-3) tonight (7 p.m.) at Rutland Arena. They entertain the Summerland Steam Wednesday (7 p.m.) in Armstrong.