Hustle and heart Sets us apart.
The North Okanagan Knights went with just 14 skaters Saturday night at Rutland Arena and won.
With four defencemen and three forwards on injured reserve, the North Okanagan Knights went with just 14 skaters Saturday night at Rutland Arena.
Somehow, the Knights who were healthy found a way to dispatch the Kelowna Chiefs 6-3 in Kootenay International Junior Hockey League play before 200 fans.
“We are really banged up and it was a great effort, said Knights’ head coach/GM Bryant Perrier. “I’m very proud of the group. It also shows that the bar just got set higher for the guys who were out. When we get our team back, we’ll be fine.”
Perrier acquired Vernon’s Grady Caton, a blueliner, from the Island Junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers, and the smooth-skating 18-year-old was a minute muncher in Rutland.
“He has wonderful vision,” said Perrier. “We got lucky; he fell out of the sky. With the number of injuries to our back end, we needed immediate assistance to bolster this position and give the group a chance to succeeed. He will help our defence move the puck out of the dee zone. He is smart and has savvy with the puck. We think he will also help improve our powerplay.”
Caton had one assist in 10 games with the 14-1 Buccaneers.
Perrier also added 17-year-old centre Mitchell Porteous from Calgary Midget AA and he responded with the Knights’ second goal versus the Chiefs.
“He’s going to help us,” said Perrier.
Jaden Hay converted two empty-netters 17 seconds apart in the final minute for the Knights, who improved to 3-8-1-3, four points back of the Chiefs for the fourth and final playoff berth in the Okanagan Division.
Ben Jossinet (first), Carl Main (fourth) and Sean Wilson (third), with the winner midway through the third period, complete the North Okanagan offence.
Brett Witala (eighth and ninth) and Jarin Sutton (fifth) replied for Kelowna. The Chiefs ran into penalty trouble as Tyler Love and Lane Paddison both took head contact minors and misconducts.
The Chiefs (6-6-1-1) outshot the Knights 51-25 with Zach Willms going the distance for the Knights.
“He (Willms) was good,” said Perrier. “He gives us a chance to win every night.”
D-man Justin Miron, who received a severe concussion in a game earlier this season against the Chiefs, remains on IR for another six weeks. Perrier said Miron requires 20 more treatments on a nerve in his neck.
Blueliners Jeff Schenkler, Drayton Martin and Cole Haberlock, along with captain Levi Harris a centre, are all nursing dislocated shoulders. F Alec McLeod was scratched for disciplinary reasons Saturday, while F Simon Korol was suspended.
The Knights visit the first-place Summerland Steam (12-4) Friday night.