North Okanagan Knights captains Darius Makse (from left)

North Okanagan Knights captains Darius Makse (from left)

North Okanagan Knights take aim at BC. title

Host team and Okanagan champs take on Fernie Sunday at 4:30 p.m. in opening game of B.C. Tier 4 Pee Wee hockey finals in Armstrong

“We are going to win games and we are going to lose games, but we never quit.”

It’s been the North Okanagan Knights’ motto all season long and now, the group of kids from Armstrong to Sicamous is ready to try and win some of the biggest games of their young lives as the squad hosts the B.C. Tier 4 Pee Wee hockey championships in Armstrong and Enderby starting Sunday.

“What makes the team exciting is that we have some kids that have played hockey for eight years, and we also have some kids that have only been playing for three years,” said Knights head coach Randy Zbytnuik, who is joined on the bench by assistants Mike McCaig and Dalin Martin.

“Being a small association, this is what we are faced with and I’m proud of how well the team has worked together and the dedication they’ve shown since the day the team was selected.”

The Knights open the seven-team provincials at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at the Nor-Val Sports Centre against the East Kootenay champion Fernie Jr. Ghostriders, a team North Okanagan lost 1-0 to earlier this year at a tournament.

North Okanagan will play the Prince Rupert Seawolves at 5 p.m. (Nor-Val) on Monday. They’ll face the Vancouver Thunderbirds at 8 a.m. (Enderby Arena) and Kelowna Jr. Rockets at 5 p.m. (Nor-Val) on Tuesday, the defending champion Langley Eagles Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. (Nor-Val) and wrap up the preliminary round Thursday against the Vanderhoof Bears at 1:30 p.m. (Enderby).

The tournament’s gold-medal game goes Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in Enderby.

The Knights played in the Okanagan Pee Wee Tier 3 division and had a record of 9-8-1, but won its way into the tournament by sweeping Kelowna in the Okanagan final.

The Jr. Rockets and Vancouver Thunderbirds were runners-up in their district playoffs to North Okanagan and Langley, respectively, while Vanderhoof was given a wild card spot after losing the district final to Prince Rupert.

“We have a strong defensive core led by our captain, Tyson McCaig,” said Zbytnuik. “The offence is led by assistant captains Darius Makse and Jordan Zbytnuik. Our team is comprised of solid second-year players Mason Buzzell, Jake Watson and Derek Gilowski and a great core of first-year players. Our goaltender, Ethin Campbell, is solid.”

Rounding out the Knights are Adam Zimmerman, Devin Jameson, Grayson Williamson, Jacob Dewitt, Dawson Martin, Andrew Brown, William Puetter, James Walker and Alex Dunnett.

The tournament’s welcoming banquet will be held Saturday at the Splatsin First National Cultural Centre in Enderby.  The meal is being catered by Cliff’s Bistro and “Simon Says,” a sports psychologist/motivational speaker, will be entertaining all.

The public is welcome to attend and tickets may be purchased for $25 from Sam McCaig 250- 803-1382 or sammccaig5@gmail.com.

The opening ceremonies will be held at Nor-Val after the first game on Sunday at approximately 10:30 a.m.

A complete game schedule and up-to-date results will be available on the BC Hockey website – www.bchockey.net – or on the free BC Hockey app.

Admission to all games is free and there will be souvenir programs for sale as well as draws and silent auctions to participate in.