For all the time they spent in the penalty box, it is amazing the North Okanagan Knights and Kamloops Storm were able to combine for 14 goals Friday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
Referee Shane Hillman dished out 73 penalty minutes, with the Knights taking a 9-5 win in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League play.
North Okanagan, second in the Doug Birks Division at 19-8-1-2, scored on each of its first four powerplays – they failed to convert on their remaining eight chances – to take an early lead.
The 12-16-2-4 Storm responded with goals less than a minute apart later in the first period to cut the lead in half.
“It was unreal,” said Knights’ head coach Kris Mallette. “The first period took 50 minutes to play. Flow was non-existent.
“It was tough to get a gauge how physical we could be without getting a penalty. It made for a little bit of a timid game.”
Mallette, along with Knights’ d-man Mac Ferner missed the first leg of a home-and-home set with the Revelstoke Grizzlies (15-11-3-1) Saturday at the Forum. They each received a game misconduct – Ferner for leaving the bench, and Mallette for not controlling his player – when a skirmish broke out in North Okanagan’s zone after the final whistle.
Mallette said Ferner was simply going out to congratulate his goaltender.
The Grizz are in Armstrong for a 3 p.m. matinee today at Nor-Val.
The Knights will be without first star Tanner Burns, their leading scorer, as he was called up by the BCHL Nanaimo Clippers for a pair of Interior games tilts with the Penticton Vees Saturday and the Trail Smoke Eaters today.
Kamloops and North Okanagan pretty much went snipe-for-snipe for the remaining 40 minutes Friday. Five North Okanagan players reached the three-point mark – Matty Saharchuk and Derek Andrew each counted two goals and an assist, Brett Hawrys fired a goal and two helpers, and d-men Nathan Browne and Dryden Profeit each had three assists.
“These guys that had big nights were also the guys that were on the ice for these lapses,” said Mallette. “I’ll take a 5-3 hockey game over a 9-5 hockey game because the habits you go through…the attention to detail wasn’t there.”
Burns (2G), Tyler Bolduc and Vernon Midget call-up Logan Geefs (second star) rounded out the Knights’ attack in front of Austin Buzzell (42 saves).
“It was tough to get him (Geefs) into the game in the first period, but after we were able to get him a regular shift,” said Mallette, who had his other call-up, Steven Hawes, play centre between a couple veterans.
“He acquitted himself and got some chances out there. He’s been physical and a pleasant surprise.”
Connor Fortems (2+1) was the lone three-point man for Kamloops. Ryan Skinner, Stefan Wood and Ryan Keis added singles.
The Knights chased Marcus Beesley after eight minutes. He gave up three goals on eight shots and was replaced by Tyrell Hamer-Jackson, who finished with 16 saves on 22 shots.