Cory Hochhausen scored a natural hat trick as the North Okanagan Knights iced the Sicamous Eagles 7-3 in their 2011-12 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season opener Friday night at Nor-Val Sports Centre.
With the score tied 2-2 after the first period, the Kelowna native fired three straight goals over a 10-minute span in the second frame as part of his first-star, four-point showing.
“Cory’s an honest kid who works hard and is hard to knock off the puck, and he’s good when he gets in close,” said Knights’ first-year head coach Kris Mallette.
North Okanagan’s Josh Wickenheiser, another Kelowna product, assisted on each of Hochhausen’s goals and finished as the third star with four helpers.
Mateja Leko (second star), a California import in his second season with the Knights, opened the scoring with a pair of quick goals in the first frame.
“The first five minutes, the boys were excited and skating hard and they got off to a quick two-goal lead. But after that we started cheating a little bit,” said Mallette.
“But they definitely settled down as the game went on and got back to basics.”
Brendan Devries and Brendan Wilde buried singles for Sicamous to deadlock the score after 20 minutes.
Devries and the Knights’ Justin Murray traded singles to make it 6-3 for the hosts heading into the second intermission.
Sean Mulcahy, who has yet to turn 18 but is already entering his third campaign with the Knights, finished the scoring on a third-period powerplay.
Colten Wright earned his first KIJHL win with 29 saves, while Vernon’s Aaron Brandoli, a late cut by the BCHL Salmon Arm SilverBacks, recorded 36 stops for the Eagles.
Starting the game with just four defencemen, Mallette was forced to put Steven Pantazopoulos back on the point when Brendan Jost left the game with an injury.
The Knights were also without brothers Eric and Patrick Chore, who were auditioning with the Prince George Spruce Kings. Mallette expected them to be back in the lineup as North Okanagan faced the Revelstoke Grizzlies Saturday night in Armstrong.
The Knights finish a three-game home stand today (2 p.m.) against the Fernie Ghostriders at Nor-Val.