The West Kelowna Warriors found their way back into the win column Saturday night.
The Warriors got goals from five different players in a 5-3 nailbiter over the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters.
As was the case the night before, the Warriors were by far the better team but were unable to finish some Grade A chances.
Felix Caron fanned on a perfectly executed backdoor play from the edge of the crease and Michael Salandra was robbed by Teagan Kendrick who threw down his arm and stopped the Warriors veteran who made a slick forehand deke but was unable to put the puck past the netminder from in tight.
It's been that way for much of the season but as head coach Simon Ferguson points out those chances will eventually turn into goals.
"Always. We had a couple of wide open nets that we missed and hit a couple of posts, so those are all good things," he said.
"For me, I'm always watching the D-side of it and what we're doing there and let them be a little more creative on the O-side."
Caron, Jack Pridham, Jackson Kyrkostas and Caden Kemkaran-Humble with their first BCHL goals and Salandra into the empty net scored the goals for the Warriors.
Trailing 1-0 against the run of play, Caron finally got the monkey off his back when he snapped a shot past Kendrick off the rush moments after the Smokies had opened the scoring.
Goals 38 seconds apart early in the second from Kyrkostas on a power play and Kemkaran-Humble at the end of a pretty three-way passing play opened up a two-goal lead and seemed to be enough to send the Warriors on their way.
But, the opportunistic Smoke Eaters wouldn't go away. Adam Marshall tipped home a point shot to pull Trail to within a goal.
The teams traded goals in the first half of the third before Salandra iced it into an empty net.
Matthew DellaRusso, making his first BCHL start Saturday, wasn't as busy but, came up with a game-saving stop with the game on the line late in the third.
With the Warriors killing a late penalty DellaRusso made a spectacular glove save off a Josh Schenk one-timer labeled for the top corner.
"The game was on the line and he made the save, but I go back to the three plays before that ended up in that scenario and wonder why we made those decisions.
"That's something we'll work on and continue to work on."
One area the Warriors have worked on almost to perfection is their penalty kill. Since giving up a goal to Penticton on their first penalty kill of the season the Warriors have been perfect, killing off 14 straight penalties.
The Warriors were 1-4 with the man advantage.
West Kelowna outshot Trail 39-21 over the course of the evening.
The Warriors were without the services of forward Johannes Løkkeberg who began serving a two-game suspension for a hit to the head penalty he was assessed during Friday's 2-1 loss to Cranbrook.
The Warriors and Salmon Arm share the Interior Division lead with identical 3-1 record.
The two teams will go head-to-head for the first time next weekend. They meet Friday in Salmon Arm before a return engagement the next night at Riyal LePage Place.
The Penticton Vees lagged behind in Friday night's game out in Nanaimo against the Clippers until the overtime period, where a defenceman scored the game-winning goal.
The Vees were down a goal after 20 minutes in the first period. Attila Lippai scored his first goal as a Vee in the opening frame, which was then bookended by two Nanaimo goals from Cole Lonsdale and Jack Edwards.
Edwards then scored his second of the game eight minutes into the second as Nanaimo went up by a pair.
Penticton’s came back with two goals in four minutes to draw level late in the second period, with Fisher making it a one-goal game before Reinhart tied it up with his shorthanded effort.
Both teams were held off the scoresheet in the final frame and the game headed for overtime.
Francesco Dell’Elce scored the overtime goal deep into the 10-minute extra frame. The 17-year-old rookie defenceman capitalized on a Vees’ power play and hammered his point shot past everyone, including Clippers' goaltender Tyler Hodges.
Goaltender Andrew Ness secured his first win as a Vee, as the 19-year-old turned aside 27 of 30 shots in just shy of 69 minutes of work.
The Vees jump over to the Sunshine Coast Saturday night, for their game against the Powell River Kings. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. Fans can listen to the game on Bounce 800 AM or watch on Flo Hockey TV.
On a night when the West Kelowna Warriors recognized heroic effort made by firefighters and other community organizations, it was Cranbrook Bucks goaltender who was on fire.
The Bucks netminder was the difference Friday night in a 2-1 victory before nearly 1,100 disappointed fans at Royal LePage Place.
Some nights you're the better team and deserve a better fate but the goaltender at the other end of the rink is just that much better.
That was the case Friday.
"I think for the most part we played a simple, hard, offensive game but it's just some night the goalie over had a stellar performance. We hit a couple of posts and just lost the game on two plays," said assistant coach Ayrton Nikkel.
The Warriors had numerous opportunities to get on the board early, especially on the penalty kill.
Felix Caron fired high on a shorthanded breakaway then a pair of two-on-ones in short succession failed to click, including a post off the stick of Jack Pridham with Capton clearly beaten.
Cal Hughes, who scored clutch goals in the two opening weekend wins was stoned on a one-timer from in close 90 seconds into the third with the game knotted at a goal apiece.
Noah Urness opened the scoring for the Bucks against the run of the play. After another Warriors opportunity went array, the Bucks turned the play the other way.
Urness stepped around a defender in the left circle and beat Rorke Applebee to the far corner.
The goal looked like it might stand as the only goal of the night.
But, the Warriors finally solved Capton late in the middle frame when captain Brennan Nelson tipped home a shot from the point for his first of the season on the power play with just 40 seconds left in the period.
The game remained tie until, again against the run of play what seemed like a harmless shot deflected off a skate and off Applebee's pad. The rebound dropped right at Oskar Cederqvist's stick who deposited the fortuitous bounce into a wide open net.
A string of penalties late in the third prevented the Warriors from mounting any sort of late flourish.
"For the most part I thought we controlled the pace of play," said Nikkel.
"They had to react to what we were doing. We carried the game for the majority of it but just a couple break downs don't go our way and yea, I thought we deserved a better fate."
The Warriors outshot the Bucks 29-26.
The Warriors, 2-1 on the season, will look to get back into the win column Saturday when they entertain the Trail Smoke Eaters.
The West Kelowna Warriors look to remain perfect during the early going of the BC Hockey League season.
The Warriors, who upended Penticton and Trail in overtime to open the regular season, will welcome the Cranbrook Bucks into Royal LePage Place Friday night.
The Warriors will look to flip the script on the Bucks, who have had their number since joining the league prior to the pod season of 2020-2021.
The Bucks have won eight of 10 regular season meetings between the two teams including all five last season.
Cranbrook roll into town having split their first two games, both on the road, winning 5-4 in overtime in Trail before falling 3-1 in Vernon.
Friday's game is "Community Heroes Night," as the Warriors recognize the firefighters and first responders who worked tirelessly to keep the community safe during the McDougall Creek wildfire.
The Warriors will be back at it Saturday when they host the Trail Smoke Eaters.
It will be the second meeting between the two teams. Cal Hughes scored the winner in overtime in a 5-4 win in Tail last Saturday.
Hockey fans will get a chance to celebrate more than the great game itself when the West Kelowna Warriors take to the ice Friday night against the Cranbrook Bucks.
The Warriors will hold "community heroes night" to honour the first responders and heroes who stepped up in the face of the raging McDougall Creek wildfire.
As the fire tore through both sides of Okanagan Lake sending thousands from their homes, fire departments and other first responders from across all corners of the region worked tirelessly to keep the community safe and get people back home as quickly as possible,.
Warriors president Chris Laurie says Friday is meant to be a "celebration" of the many who stepped up through those tough days.
"We want to offer our community the opportunity to show their appreciation to those who went above and beyond during the state of emergency in West Kelowna," says Laurie.
"Please come early Friday and help us thank those selfless individuals who deserve the recognition."
Proceeds from the 50/50 Friday will go to benefit the Central Okanagan Fire Relief Fund as will $1 from each ticket purchased before 5 p.m. Friday.
Friday's game is the first of back-to-back home dates for the Warriors who will play host to Trail Saturday evening.
Puck drops for both games at 7 p.m.
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