The North Okanagan Knights are fast becoming a special teams oddity in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
Despite receiving the second-most powerplay opportunities in the KIJHL (139), the Knights’ man advantage has converted a league-low seven goals. They went 0-for-6 in Wednesday night’s 3-1 loss to the Chase Heat at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
North Okanagan, last in the league at 2-14-1-2, has also been shorthanded more than any other team (158 times on the penalty kill), meaning they don’t spend much time at even strength.
Their lack of discipline was a factor against the 7-9-1-2 Heat, who clicked twice on the man advantage, including the game’s first goal by Braden Hughes on a 5-on-3. Travis Beaubien made it 2-0 on a second-period powerplay and Cody Hodges put the visitors comfortably ahead with 1:34 to play in the frame.
“Discipline played a huge part in the game,” said Knights’ head coach Jim Armstrong. “Our biggest fault right now is the attention to detail and not doing the little things to win a game.”
The Knights will be looking to snap a six-game losing streak when they host the Kelowna Chiefs (6-10-2-1) tonight (7:30) at Nor-Val. The Summerland Steam (10-7) are in town for a 3 p.m. Sunday matinee.
The Chiefs and Steam skated to a 3-3 draw Sunday.
Armstrong was pleased to see North Okanagan push back in the third period against Chase. The result was Mitchell Lukacs’ fifth goal of the season, a nice solo effort as he drove to the net from the sidewall to beat Daniel Toews with a top-shelf forehand-backhand.
“It’s not like we’re not getting chances,” said Armstrong. “We’ve had more chances in the last three games than we’ve had in the last 10. We just can’t seem to buy a bounce.”
The Knights are hoping to have Jordan Passmore, acquired in a trade with the Heat on Monday, in tonight’s lineup. The 18-year-old Kamloops product missed Wednesday’s game with the flu.
“He’s going to be a big addition to the team,” said Armstrong. “He’s 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, scores and provides a good net presence. He’ll create time and space for players that need it.”