It came down to the wire, but the North Okanagan Knights finally clinched first place in the Kootenay
International Junior Hockey League’s Doug Birks Division.
The Knights finished their regular season with a 5-1 victory over the Chase Heat in Armstrong on Sunday. North Okanagan (32-14-2-2) finished one point ahead of the Sicamous Eagles (32-13-3-4), who had knocked off Chase 5-2 on Saturday.
The Knights had been leading the division since Sept. 30, but Sicamous went ahead with its victory over Chase.
The Knights will open the playoffs against the fourth-place Kamloops Storm (18-28-2-4) on Friday in Armstrong. Game 2 will be Saturday in Armstrong, with Games 3 and 4 to be played in Kamloops on Feb. 25 and 26 — 7 p.m., both days.
The Eagles will take on the Revelstoke Grizzlies in Round 1, with Games 1-2 in Sicamous on Friday and Saturday. The Heat (11-35-3-3) missed the playoffs.
North Okanagan got two goals from Colton Thibault on Sunday, along with singles from Matty Saharchuk, Mac Ferner and Brandon Shirley. Dustin Nykkel made 19 saves.
Levi Chamberlain had a power-play goal for Chase, which got 50 saves from Jacob Mattes.
On Saturday, Chase got its goals from Marc MacKenzie and Connor Venne, and Mattes made 36 saves.
Michael Bell had three goals for the Eagles, with Cameron Berry and Jamie Gallo also scoring and Kris Joyce making 29 stops.
The Storm, meanwhile, finished its regular season with a 5-2 victory over the Grizzlies at McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre on Saturday.
Wade Moyls made 41 saves in the victory, and Daniel Buchanan, Connor Fortems, Austin Braid, Sasha Perron and Ryan Keis had the Kamloops goals.
Austin Donaldson and T.J. Christensen scored for Revelstoke, whose goaltender, Aaron Brandoli, stopped 40 shots.