Two wins in a row keep Coyotes comfortably in first place
Two wins on home ice just days apart have kept the Osoyoos Coyotes comfortably in first place in the Okanagan Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
On Friday, they shut out the last-place Princeton Posse 5-0.
On Wednesday, the Coyotes scored a 6-4 victory over the Kelowna Chiefs, but they almost blew an earlier two-goal lead when they let down their guard in the third period.
Once again on Friday night, new Coyote acquisition Austin Steger proved his worth, assisting on three goals.
Colin Bell had an even better night, scoring two power play goals and picking up an assist on a second-period goal by Colton Rhodes, who recently returned to Coyotes.
Best of all was Coyote goalie Liam Aitken, who deflected 31 Princeton shots to earn his fourth shutout for the Coyotes in just nine games.
Despite one bad game against Princeton in October, Aitken has mostly done very well when he’s had a chance to play.
The fact that he hasn’t seen more ice time is probably due to the strength of fellow goalie Adam Jones, who has played most games for the Coyotes.
The Coyotes opened the scoring in the second half of the first period with a goal by Daniel Stone, assisted by Hunter Johnson.
The 1-0 Coyote lead held until late in the second period, when Bell scored his first of two goals on a power play, assisted by Steger and Ryan Roseboom.
Minutes later, Rhodes made it 3-0, assisted by Stone and Bell.
In the third period, Jackson Glimpel scored, assisted by Carter Robinson and Steger.
The final goal by Bell with 5:28 remaining came on a power play. Roseboom and Steger got the assists.
Wednesday’s game against the Kelowna Chiefs was tougher and the Coyotes stumbled in the third period, but they ultimately triumphed.
At the end of the second period, the Coyotes had a comfortable 3-1 lead, but early in the third period the Chiefs scored two quick goals to tie the game.
Thanks to two late goals, one by Rhodes and an empty net goal by Steger with just two seconds remaining, the Coyotes recovered their lead to win the game.
Kelowna opened the scoring halfway through the first period.
It didn’t take long for Roseboom to pick up a rebound left for him by Judd Repole and put the puck in the net from close range. Rhodes got the other assist.
Late in the period Repole fired the puck head-on past two pairs of legs and into the net. Steger and Stone got assists.
The second period only saw one goal when Steger scored his first of two on a power play. Stone and Bell got assists. This gave the Coyotes a 3-1 lead.
A minute and a half into the third period, Brett Witala of the Chiefs narrowed the Coyote lead and just over two minutes later Joel Scrimbit tied the score on a power play.
The Coyotes soon took the lead again when Johnson scored. Rhodes and Bryson Cecconi got the assists.
But a minute later, Kelowna again scored to tie the game.
Although the Coyotes dominated play in the first two periods, actually outshooting the Chiefs 16-7 in the second, they let up in the third and Kelowna outshot the Coyotes 14-12.
Finally, a goal by Rhodes put the Coyotes ahead with just 4:36 remaining in the third period. Johnson and Sam Reinbolt got assists.
In the final minute and a half, Kelowna pulled goalie Tanner Marshall for an extra attacker, but failed to score.
Steger’s empty net goal in the last two seconds was assisted by Stone and Repole.
As well as scoring the game-winning goal, Rhodes also picked up two assists and was named first star of the game.
Steger, who scored two goals and got one assist, also picked up three points.
Repole also got three points with a goal and two assists.
Wednesday’s game followed a two-week hiatus for the Coyotes over Christmas.
The Coyotes have another home game on Wednesday, Jan. 4 against the North Okanagan Knights.