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North Okanagan Knights top Osoyoos Coyotes, take Game 1 of playoffs

The Knights got a good start to the KIJHL postseason, which kicked off Friday, Feb. 23
North Okanagan Knights defeated the Osoyoos Coyotes 5-4 in Game 1 of the KIJHL playoffs Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. (Trevor Seibel photo)

The 2024 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs kicked off Friday with all 16 teams in action, and the North Okanagan Knights got their first-round series against the Osoyoos Coyotes started on the right foot.

The Knights, who eliminated the Coyotes in the first round of last year’s playoffs, left the Nor-Val Centre with a 5-4 victory in what proved to be a close game, as both teams registered 43 shots on net.

Ian George and Luke Rishaug led the way for the Knights with two goals each, while Gage Parrell, Levi Brewer and Cash Anderson each had two assists. Nolan Kelly also had two points, a goal and an assist.

Kelly was the first to score, snapping home an early powerplay goal for the Knights in the first period. George scored late in the period to give the Knights a 2-0 lead.

George then potted his second of the night four and a half minutes into the middle frame, but Osoyoos struck less than 30 seconds later off the stick of Spencer Fleck.

At the midway point of the game, the Coyotes got a powerplay from Logan Messer to cut the deficit to 3-2. But Rishaug soon restored the Knights’ two-goal lead with his first of the night.

In the third, the Coyotes scored another power play goal, this time by Scott Dyck. Rishaug answered with his second goal roughly seven minutes later.

The Coyotes made it interesting with Dyck scoring his second of the period to make it a 5-4 game with just under eight minutes to play, but Knights goalie Josh Hager — who was recently named the MVP of the division for the regular season — shut the door and secured the win.

The Knights now have a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. The Knights finished ahead of the Coyotes in the regular season, taking second place in the Bill Ohlhausen division, meaning they host the first two games of the series and have home-ice advantage if the series goes to seven games.

That means the two teams are set to face off again at the Nor-Val Centre tonight (Feb. 24). Puck drops at 7:15 p.m.

READ MORE: North Okanagan Knights goaltender named division MVP

READ MORE: North Okanagan Knights end regular season with victory over Osoyoos, 3-2

Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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