Salmon Arm’s Matthew Johnston of the North Okanagan Knights has been named the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s most sportsmanlike player. (Contributed)

Salmon Arm’s Matthew Johnston of the North Okanagan Knights has been named the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s most sportsmanlike player. (Contributed)

North Okanagan Knight KIJHL’s most sportsmanlike player

Matthew Johnston of North Okanagan Knights adds Junior B award to sportsmanlike trophy he won in Pee Wee

Salmon Arm’s Matthew Johnston couldn’t figure out why his friends were coming up to him in the hallways and congratulating him.

The friends knew something Johnston didn’t – he was the Bill Ohlhausen Division nominee for the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League’s Most Sportsmanlike Player award, which he ended up winning.

“I was very shocked when I saw it (nomination),” said Johnston, 17. “I didn’t know what they were talking about. Then my coach called and said ‘congratulations.’ I just had to see for myself if it was true. It was really an honour.”

Johnston defeated the three other division nominees – Corbin Cockerill, Creston Valley Thundercats; Tyson Lautard, Nelson Leafs; Reid Stumpf, 100 Mile House Wranglers – for the season-ending honour. He was third in team scoring with 30 points in 36 games but amassed a mere six minutes in penalties in those contests.

He credits the Knights’ coaching staff for helping him become a better player and improving his hockey sense to play a disciplined game, and also credited another factor.

“The most important part of me not taking penalties is having a black belt in taekwon-do to be able to control myself and my anger when I do get angry,” said Johnston. “I don’t take it out on others. My coaches really helped me decide when to be aggressive and when to hold back. I thank them for how I play.”

The Knights missed the KIJHL playoffs, finishing fifth in the Ohlhausen Division.

Johnston also received the Knights’ Scholastic Player of the Year award as a French immersion honour roll student.

The Sportsman of the Year award builds on the one Johnston received as a Salmon Arm Minor Hockey player on the Pee Wee rep team.

Johnston will move up a level in 2022-23, committing to the Junior A Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

• Spallumcheen goalie and former Knights player Caedon Bellmann will play for a provincial Junior B hockey championship.

Bellmann is one of two goalies with the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s Langley Trappers, who won the league playoff title Wednesday, March 30, with a 3-2 win over the White Rock Whalers, taking the best-of-seven championship series in five games.

Bellmann and the Trappers will join the host Delta Ice Hawks of the PJHL for the four-team Cyclone Taylor Cup April 10-13 in Ladner. They will be accompanied by the winners of the KIJHL and Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League titles.

The Revelstoke Grizzlies took a 3-1 lead in the KIJHL’s Teck Cup final into Game 5 at home Thursday, March 31, against the Nelson Leafs.

And after being a game away from elimination, Parksville’s Oceanside Generals are now a game away from forcing Game 7 in the VIJHL championship with the Peninsula Panthers of North Saanich.

The Panthers host Game 6 Friday, April 1, with a 3-2 series lead which once was three games to none. If the Generals force Game 7, it will be Saturday, April 2, in Parksville.

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