The West Kelowna Warriors hope to turn their hope fortunes around when they entertain the Penticton Vees Friday and Saturday in games three and four of their Interior Division semi-final series.
The Warriors wrestled home ice advantage away from the Vees by earning a split of the opening two games in Penticton.
The Vees evened the series Wednesday erasing a 2-0 third period deficit and earning a 3-2 overtime win.
While the Warriors now have home ice advantage for what is essentially now a best-of-five - Royal LePage Place has been anything but an advantage for the Warriors when these teams meet.
Over the past four seasons the Warriors have just one regulation time win (4-0, Dec. 21, 2013) in 15 games dating back to the start of the 2011-2012 season.
However, over the past three seasons, the Warriors are 5-5 over a 10 game span.
"We kind of laughed about that this morning and said we should just keep playing in their building because we seem to have more success there," said Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster.
"They are such a good hockey team I think we could play them anywhere. We could play them in Summerland or anywhere...you;re going to get the same game, they're good no matter where they play."
In three post season series with the Vees dating back to the 2007-2008 season, the Warriors are 3-4 in seven meetings on home ice.
They have also yet to beat the Vees in a playoff series losing in four, six and five games respectively.
"Anytime we've beaten them it isn't because we've dominated them because we haven't but they seem to have our number here, that's for sure," said Ferster.
"But, it's playoffs and we haven't seen them here for a while so, we'll see."
Ferster said he doesn't believe there is any secret or any mystique the Vees hold over the Warriors at Royal LePage Place.
He said they're just a good team that has been able to win no matter where they play.
Ferster added one of the keys to beating the Vees will be to play to the final buzzer.
Too many times since he's been with the Warriors the Vees have somehow found a way to get the equalizer or the winner late in a game.
The Warriors also showed in game one Tuesday they have the ability to come back themselves.
They turned a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 overtime win.
Scott Patton, who, according to the shot counters in Penticton has faced 103 shots over the course of the first two games will get the start again Friday while Andy Desautels serves as the back-up.
Ferster said Jordan Masters will remain on the sidelines and isn't expected to play in the series.
The Warriors will have a pre-game tailgate party in the courtyard prior to games three and four featuring live music, food and games.
Game time is 7 p.m. for both games.
Game five in the series will be played in Penticton Monday with game six, if necessary, Tuesday back at Royal LePage Place.
The following is a recap of game two of the respective division semi-finals played Wednesday, March 4.
Matthew Serratore started the comeback and then finished it off with the OT winner in a crucial come-from-behind 3-2 Penticton Vees win over the West Kelowna Warriors.
Nick Rutigliano and Andrew Johnson scored in the second to put West Kelowna ahead 2-0 but Serratore got the Vees on the board early in the third. Demico Hannoun's power-play goal tied it just before the midway point in the third, setting the stage for overtime.
Serratore finished things off with a goal 3:43 into the extra session. Hunter Miska made 30 saves for the win while Scott Patton made 44 saves for West Kelowna. The series is now tied 1-1.
In Victoria, it was Chris Harpur playing the OT hero in a 2-1 Grizzlies win over the Powell River Kings. In the opening frame, the Kings' Jonny Evans and the Grizzlies' Ayden MacDonald exchanged goals. That was the only scoring until 2:19 into OT when Harpur won it. Michael Stiliadis made 24 saves for the win. The series is now tied 1-1.
In Langley, Jordan Schneider set up two goals including the winner in a Rivermen 4-2 win over the Prince George Spruce Kings. Michael Buonincontri opened the scoring for PG but in the middle frame, Ben Butcher, Matthew Graham and Hunter Anderson tallied for Langley, the latter two assisted by Schneider. Viktor Dombrovskiy scored for PG against his old team in the third but Kevan Kilistoff iced it with an empty-net goal. The series is now tied 1-1.
In Vernon, Luke Voltin and Liam Finlay scored in the second to allow the Vipers to claim a 2-1 win over the Merritt Centennials. Cole Chorney opened the scoring in the first for the Cents but it was the only puck to get past Jarrod Schamerhorn. Vernon fired 41 shots on 1st Star Jonah Imoo in the Cents crease. Vernon leads the series 2-0.
In Nanaimo, the Clippers scored a goal each period to take a 3-1 win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Nic Gushue opened the scoring and Jake Jackson had the winner in the second. Drew Blackmun got the 'Dogs on the board and within one in the third but Austin Dick's shorthanded empty-netter sealed it for the Clips. Nanaimo leads the series 2-0.
In Chilliwack, Jordan Kawaguchi scored the winner and set up two others as the Chiefs earned a 6-2 win. Jake Hand for the Chiefs and Jackson Cressey exchanged tallies in the first but Tipper Higgins and Kawaguchi scored 20 seconds apart in the second to provide the necessary offence. After a Brandon Potomak goal, Corey Mackin had the other Express tally. Scott Davidson and Craig Puffer added on in the third. Chilliwack leads the series 2-0.
The West Kelowna Warriors earned the split they wanted but may lament the one that got away.
Penticton erased a 2-0 deficit with a pair of unanswered goals in the third then got the winner 3:43 into overtime Wednesday in a 3-2 victory over the Warriors.
The win evens the best-of-seven Interior Division semi-final at a game apiece as the series now shifts north to Royal LePage Place.
Matthew Serratore provided the overtime heroics with his second of the night.
Following a penalty filled scoreless first the Warriors finally jumped out on top.
Nick Rutigliano, who scored just once during the regular season, scored his first career BCHL playoff goal at the midway point of the second giving the Warriors an all important first goal.
Captain Andrew Johnson doubled the lead a little more than four minutes later giving them a 2-0 lead.
It was the biggest lead either team has enjoyed thus far in the series.
Despite leading after 40 minutes the Warriors were still on the wrong end of the shot clock as they were outshot by the Vees 27-17.
Penticton didn't waste any time cutting into the deficit.
Serratore got Penticton on the board 1:41 into the final period, then, with Mac Ferner in the box for hooking, Demico Hannoun connected with his second of the series on the power-play to even things up and force overtime.
And, as was the case the night earlier when the Warriors came back from a third period deficit, it was the team with the momentum that would strike in overtime.
Both teams had two shots in overtime with Penticton holding a 47-32 advantage over the 63 plus minutes.
Warriors goaltender Scott Patton, the second star for the second straight night, has faced 102 shots over the course of the first two games of the series.
Games three and four are set for Royal LePage Place Friday and Saturday night.
Game five will be played back in Penticton next Monday.
Jason Cotton's reputation as a clutch scorer only grew Tuesday night in Game 1 of the BCHL playoffs as he tallied the double-overtime winner in a 4-3 West Kelowna Warriors road win over the Penticton Vees.
With Demico Hannoun in the penalty box for a kneeing minor, Cotton scored the game-winner. The Texas native had earlier tallied a big OT winner against Trail in the final week of the regular season.
The Vees led 3-2 after two on a goal late in the second by Lewis Zerter-Gossage. Warriors blueliner Kristian Blumenschein tied the game at the 6:01 mark of the third setting the stage for OT. Scott Patton kicked out 52 saves to earn the victory. West Kelowna leads the series 1-0.
Dan Nachbaur's goal with 1:06 remaining in regulation time was the only tally of the night for either team as the Prince George Spruce Kings downed the host Langley Rivermen 1-0. Jesse Jenks made 27 saves for the goose egg. PG leads the series 1-0
Anthony Latina authored the overtime winner just 3:28 into extra time as the Vernon Vipers defeated the visiting Merritt Centennials 3-2. Thomas Aldworth put the Vipers up 2-1 after two but Gavin Gould's late power-play tally forced overtime. Danny Todosychuk started the game and made 32 saves but Jarrod Schamerhorn had to replace him late. He allowed the tying goal but got the win, making three saves. Vernon leads the series 1-0.
Jake Hand scored twice including the empty-netter to seal the deal in a Chilliwack Chiefs 4-1 win over the Coquitlam Express. Jordan Kawaguchi and Hand put the Chiefs up 2-0 after one and in the third, Kurt Black made it 3-0 before Daniel Fritz got the Express on the board. David Jacobson made 39 saves for the win. Chilliwack leads the series 1-0.
Jake Jackson scored a natural hat trick by the 5:29 mark of the second period and wound up with four goals on the night to pave the way to a 6-1 Nanaimo Clippers win over the visiting Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Anthony Rinaldi made it 6-0 before Chris Schutz got the 'Dogs on the board. Guillaume Decelles made 41 saves for the win. Nanaimo leads the series 1-0.
Stephen Hiff set up three goals and scored one himself as the Powell River Kings downed the host Victoria Grizzlies 7-2. Ross Hnidy made it 2-0 in the second before Brett Gruber got the Grizz on the board. But Brent Lashuk, Nick Halagian with his second and Jarid Lukosevicius tallied in response to all but end it heading to the third. Brett Magnus made 30 saves for the win. Powell River leads the series 1-0.
The West Kelowna Warriors have drawn first blood in their best-of-seven BCHL Interior Division semi-final series with the Penticton Vees.
Cotton converted a rebound from the slot at 5:39 of double overtime Tuesday to give the Warriors a come-from-behind 4-3 win at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The goal came with Vees forward Demico Hannoun in the box for kneeing. It was the Warriors lone power-play chance of the night and they made it count.
Kelowna native Tyson Jost opened the scoring for the Vees with an unassisted marker just seven minutes into the contest.
Josh Bly tied it two minutes later then Brayden Gelsinger gave the Warriors their first lead of the night at 17:19 of the first.
That lead lasted only a couple of minutes when Hannoun tied it in the final minute.
Penticton's Lewis Zerter - Gossage scored the lone goal of the second while Kristian Blumenschein of the Warriors got the lone marker of the third just 6:01 in forcing overtime.
The goaltenders, Scott Patton of the Warriors and Hunter Miska of Penticton took over the rest of the way stopping everything thrown their way until Cotton finally ended it after more than 85 minutes of hockey.
Cotton had an assist to go along with his goal while Kyle Marino and captain Andrew Johnson, who returned after missing more than a week due to injury, each chipped in with a pair of assists.
Patton was spectacular for the Warriors stopping 52 of 55 shots fired his way over four plus periods of hockey as the Vees outshot the Warriors 55-38.
The Vees were 0-2 with the man advantage while the Warriors went 1 for 1.
Game two in the series goes Wednesday night back in Penticton before the series shifts to Royal LePage Place for games three and four Friday and Saturday.
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