A three-goal effort by Jordan Salahor paced the Kelowna Chiefs to their 11th win in the past 15 games on Saturday, while vaulting the 19-year-old centre into first place in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League scoring race.
Salahor upped his season goal total to 16 with the hat trick as the Chiefs edged the visiting Summerland Steam 4-3. With his 32 assists, the Pursuit of Excellence Academy product has 48 points in 29 games and sits two points up on Colton Schell of the Nelson Leafs.
A goal just 26 seconds into the first period at the Rutland Arena sparked Salahor's most productive single-game goal-scoring output of the season. He completed the trick with goals less than four minutes apart late in the second period.
Chiefs' captain Kyle Clerke, replacing suspended teammate Scott Renner on the line with Salahor and Nick Josephs, assisted on all three of Salahor's markers against Kelowna Minor Hockey Association grad Connor DeMelo in the Summerland net.
Clerke also scored his 11th goal of the season in the first period, finishing off a determined offensive play by Josephs, who leads the league in points-per-game (2.1). The Calgary native has 37 points in just 18 games and has moved up to sixth in KIJHL individual scoring.
The Chiefs held a 2-1 lead over the Steam after the first period and were up 4-1 going into the third, but gave up a pair of power-play goals in the final five minutes of the game.
Despite the win, the Chiefs (17-11-1-0) are in third place in the Okanagan Division of the KI, one point back of the second-place Osoyoos Coyotes, who have played three more games. The two teams meet at the Rutland Arena on Friday (7 p.m.). The Princeton Posse are in first place with 37 points in 29 games.