By Richard McGuire
Special to the Chronicle
Two lopsided victories on the weekend, including a resounding 9-3 victory over second-place Summerland on Sunday, put the Osoyoos Coyotes firmly in first place in their division.
And playing in Oliver always seems to help as the Coyotes traditionally win whenever they step into the Oliver Arena, where the ice surface is smaller than the Sun Bowl Arena in Osoyoos.
The win over rival Summerland at the Oliver Arena last Sunday afternoon follows an 8-2 victory Friday night at the Sun Bowl Arena over Princeton.
The Yotes were missing some key players in both games, including the top two in points totals – Judd Repole has been off with an injury and Carter Shannon is suspended for six games.
Defenceman Cody Allen is also injured. Kaleb Comishin is also out for medical reasons.
The two wins put the Coyotes in first place in the Okanagan Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League with 52 points – four ahead of Summerland with 48. Both teams have played 35 games.
In Sunday’s game, both Colin Bell and Austin Cleaver picked up hat tricks. Both also had assists.
Local boy Seth Kriese scored a pair of goals and Hunter Johnson scored the other Coyote goal, the team’s first of the game.
Multiple assists went to Jackson Barrett and Carter Robinson, with three each, and to Brock Marple and Jack McNamara with two each.
Much of the credit for the Coyote win goes to the Steam, who had trouble staying out of the penalty box, and to the Coyote power play, which capitalized six times on 13 Summerland penalties.
The Steam were unable to score any of the four times Osoyoos was shorthanded.
The Coyotes scored one goal near the end of the first period and two in the second.
In the third period, the Steam collapsed, and goalie Matthew Huber let in six goals. In that period, Huber faced 25 shots on goal while at the Coyote end, goalie Liam Aitken only faced four.
The score in Friday’s 8-2 win over Princeton was similarly lopsided, but Princeton actually took three more shots on Aitken, outshooting Osoyoos 38-35.
Once again, the key to the Coyote win was a lethal power play and lots of Princeton penalties.
The Coyotes capitalized six times on 10 power plays while the Posse failed to score on any of their six, though they did manage to get one short-handed goal.
In that game too, Cleaver got a hat trick. Bell got two goals and three assists, but Barrett got the most points – six – with one goal and five assists.
Johnson got a goal and two assists, and Robinson got four assists.
The other Coyote goal was scored shorthanded by Sam Reinbolt midway through the third period.
The Coyotes opened the scoring just over a minute into the game when Johnson scored on a power play. Two more goals put the Coyotes ahead 3-0 going into the second period.
The Coyotes began the second period on a power play and it only took 24 seconds for Cleaver to score.
Princeton got their only goal of the period before the Coyotes added two more to end the second period 6-1.
After Coyote goal number five, Princeton put goalie Bobby Milligan out of his misery, replacing him with backup goalie Danyon Lorencz. Lorencz didn’t do much better, still allowing three goals.
The Posse outshot the Coyotes in the final period, but they only managed one goal while Osoyoos added another two, to end the game at 8-2.
The Coyotes next travel to Armstrong on Friday to play the bottom-place North Okanagan Knights.
Then Saturday, they return to the Sun Bowl to face the Chase Heat. On Wednesday, Jan. 24, they travel to Princeton for another game against the Posse.
Including those games, the Coyotes have just 12 more games in the regular season.