Two games, two draws, two points.
The North Okanagan Knights stretched their Kootenay International Junior Hockey League unbeaten streak to five games with a pair of ties in their first two contests after the Christmas break.
Reid Wilson scored with 2:56 remaining in regulation time to give the Okanagan Shuswap Division-leading Osoyoos Coyotes a 3-3 draw with the Knights Saturday at the Nor-Val Sports Centre.
The goal came after the Knights killed off a lengthy five-on-three Coyotes powerplay, and 36 seconds before North Okanagan top scorer Graham Watkins was whistled for a five-minute checking from behind penalty which carried over into the extra period.
“It was a Herculean effort on the team’s part,” said Knights head coach Bryant Perrier of the penalty kills.
Knights goalie Daniel Paul made 10 of his 49 saves in overtime as Osoyoos outshot North Okanagan 52-40 (10-6 in the extra sessions). Ryland Chernomaz opened the scoring with his third of the year for the Knights at 6:15.
Colton Rhodes tied it with an unassisted marker less than two minutes later, and Osoyoos took a 2-1 lead seven minutes into the middle frame on a goal from league scoring leader Rainer Glimpel, his 20th of the year.
North Okanagan player of the game Jack Berger scored his fourth with 2:11 remaining in the period to tie the game before Ryan Moon scored his sixth on a powerplay two minutes into the third to give the Knights the lead.
“We have been playing much better and we’ve shown we can play with the big boys now,” said Perrier, whose team has taken three out of four points from the Coyotes in their last two meetings.
On New Year’s Eve in Princeton, Cameron Welch scored his seventh on a powerplay with 3:52 remaining to give the Knights a 2-2 draw with the Posse.
Watkins scored his team-leading 13th goal on a penalty shot midway through the second to tie the game 1-1. The opening goal came off a fortuitous bounce for the Posse. A dump-in hit a stanchion along the boards and, with Paul out of the net to play the puck, caromed into an empty net.
“Two months ago, if that type of goal had gone in we’d have given up three more,” said Perrier. “Right now, the guys have a taste of winning and are starting to understand how to win. If we get down, we push back and stick to the plan.”
Paul finished with 42 saves. North Okanagan (9-20-3-4) has a seven-point lead on Princeton (8-26-1-1) in the battle for fourth. The Knights face a weekend doubleheader, playing the Grizzlies in Revelstoke Friday, and the Eagles in Sicamous Saturday.
The league’s trade deadline is Jan. 10 and Perrier has vowed to make a move.
“I’m working on something right now,” he said, declining to say what the deal is. The Knights have three player cards left.