The North Okanagan Knights and 15 other Kootenay International Junior Hockey League teams start fresh Friday as the league’s post-season gets underway.
The Knights will take on the division-winning Kelowna Chiefs in a best-of-seven Bill Ohlhausen Divisional semifinal. Games 1 and 2 are Friday and Saturday, Feb. 28 and 29, at the Rutland Arena.
The series will shift back to the Nor-Val Sports Centre for Games 3 and 4, Monday and Tuesday, March 2 and 3 (7:30 p.m. starts). If needed, Games 5 and 7 will be in Rutland Thursday, March 5, and Saturday, March 7. A sixth game, if necessary, would be in Armstrong Friday, March 6 (7:30 p.m.). Games in Rutland start at 7 a.m.
North Okanagan went 2-3-1 against the Chiefs in the regular season, beating Kelowna 5-4 at home Nov. 5 and 6-5 in Kelowna Dec. 20.
The two sides met twice after Christmas, both times in Rutland, with the clubs playing to a 2-2 tie Jan. 7 and closed out the regular season Feb. 22 with the Chiefs holding on for a 3-2 win.
The Knights, who enter the playoffs on a five-game losing streak, will try to regroup and salvage a season that started with much promise.
The team was 8-4-1 through its first 13 games and battling for first place before the league came down hard on the Knights, taking away four wins for playing an improperly carded player. Since then, North Okanagan went 9-22-1-4 and finished fourth in the division with a record of 13-30-1-5, 37 points behind the Chiefs.
The other divisional semifinal has the Princeton Posse hosting the Summerland Steam.
* The league has announced Jeff Dubois has been hired as its new commissioner. Dubois will succeed Larry Martel, who will continue in his duties through the conclusion of the 2020 Cyclone Taylor Cup in 100 Mile House.
Dubois will take over the position on May 1. Dubois spent three seasons as head coach and general manager in the KIJHL with the Creston Valley Thunder Cats. In 2017, he was named the league’s Coach of the Year after leading the Thunder Cats to a bronze medal at the Cyclone Taylor Cup.