Morning Star Staff
The boy scouts’ motto would serve the North Okanagan Knights well:
The Summerland Steam scored twice in the first period, and held on to edge the Knights 5-3 in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League action Sunday afternoon before 200 fans at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.
“I didn’t think we were prepared to play,” said Knights head coach Bryant Perrier. “We’re working through that as a group. Guys have to realize they’re now playing at a level where guys know how to prepare and they’re playing against older guys and teams that are very well coached.
“If you’re not ready to go, you can’t play catch-up.”
The Steam got goals exactly two minutes apart late in the first period, including one shorthanded, to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission.
North Okanagan roared back in the second to tie it 2-2 with goals 44 seconds apart from game star Austin Fournier, his first of two powerplay markers, and Ryan Ignace with his first of the year.
The Steam peppered Knights goalie Tristan Quiring with 18 shots in the middle frame and led 4-2 after 40 minutes.
Fournier cut the lead to 4-3 midway through the third, but game star Jack Mills restored the Steam’s two-goal cushion on a powerplay less than two minutes laters.
North Okanagan had a chance to get back in the game as the Steam were whistled for five consecutive minor penalties in the final 7:14, but the Knights couldn’t capitalize.
“We had a couple of chances but didn’t get the look we wanted. We were put in a position to succeed and we let it slip away,” said Perrier, who also thought some of his players were a bit soft.
“If you show your opponent fear, they’re going to eat you up and that’s what happened Sunday. Summerland recognized that. It wasn’t the whole group, but a handful of individuals who didn’t compete in the corners, didn’t go first to the puck, didn’t take hit to make the play and backed away form it. We’ll be addressing that.”
The Knights did show some maturing early in the season as far as discipline, taking only four minor penalties. Summerland was 1-3 with the man advantage, North Okanagan was 2-9.
Quiring made 25 saves in his second straight start for the Knights, who fired 28 shots at Summerland’s Austin Wells.
The Steam (4-2-0-0) are tied for first in the Okanagan division with the Princeton Posse while the Knights (2-3-0-1) are tied for fifth with the Osoyoos Coyotes.
North Okanagan begins a three-games-in-three nights weekend with a rematch with the Steam Friday at Nor-Val, then entertain the Castlegar Rebels. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.
The Knights visit Summerland Sunday.
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks beat the Rebels 3-1 Sunday to improve their record to 6-0, the only undefeated team in the league.