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Warriors end disastrous trip

The West Kelowna Warriors limped home from a disastrous road trip in which they picked up just one of a possible six points against teams either even with them or below them in the standings.

The lone point came Saturday in a 2-1 overtime loss in Powell River.

The trip ended on a sour note Sunday as they fell 5-4 to the lowly Surrey Eagles.

The Eagles came into the game with a league worst seven wins, 17 points and 231 goals against.

Sunday's game, scheduled for 4 p.m. started late as the Warriors were late arriving after missing an early morning ferry from Powell River due to an issue with the tides.

The Eagles took advantage, scoring three unanswered goals in the first then hanging on for the victory.

Surrey opened the scoring at 6:21 when Jordan Funk walked into the high slot and fired one high glove side on Andy Desautels.

They kept coming at 11:34 when Latrell Charleson fed a puck out front for Quinn Lenihan and he buried one between the legs of Desautels.

After Brayden Gelsinger received a penalty for holding and the Warriors killed it off, Ben Vikich had a pair of opportunities to beat Desautels and did on the rebound as Gelsinger tried to get back into the zone.

West Kelowna finally got on the board in the second Braeden Jones collected his own rebound and beat a screened Christian Short.

They drew within one on the power-play when Kylar Hope took advantage of a bad change and walked into the zone firing a slapshot past Short.

Darius Davidson had an opportunity just after that when he went in on a short-handed breakaway but missed the net.

Moments later Cole Plotnikoff stole a puck and fired it home to restore the two goal lead.

The Warriors kept their comeback hopes alive in the thrid when Jason Cotton buried a power-play goal to move it to 4-3.

The Eagles were resilient as they got a goal off another breakdown with Davidson firing a shot past Desuatels.

The Warriors got it within a goal again with 4:30 remaining but couldn’t get the tying goal as Short stood tall to seal the Eagles eighth win of the season.

The Warriors return home tied with Merritt for third in the Interior Division.

Both teams are just four points up on fifth place Salmon Arm.

The Centennials hold three games in hand on the Warriors while Salmon Arm holds two in hand.

The Warriors return to action Friday when they travel to Merritt for the first of a weekend home-and-home set with the Centennials.

The same two teams play Saturday at Royal LePage Place.


Warriors stumble in trip opener

The West Kelowna Warriors got off on the wrong foot as they opened a crucial three game road trip.

The Warriors, in the midst of a battle for their playoff lives opened the road trip with a 5-1 loss to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

It was the Bulldogs who got off to the hot start in the opening frame when Mitch Makin buried his own rebound off the pads of Andy Desautels to open the scoring.

Alberni Valley kept coming, as Taylor Derynck got his first career goal on a one-time blast from the slot, and Scott Clark with a power move out from behind the goal made it 3-0 just 14 minutes into the first.

The second period saw the Warriors get some more offensive zone time, and included four straight minutes of power-play time where they generated eight shots but Billy Christopoulos only had one difficult save in the bunch.

The Bulldogs added their fourth goal with less than five minutes to play in the second period, when Clark got his second of the night on a wrap around beating Desautels.

The Warriors had out-shot Alberni Valley 12-6 in the period.

The third period featured a lot of good action both ways and the Warriors hit a crossbar early that could have put them back in it.

With six minutes left, the desperate Warriors pulled Desautels while on a power-play and it worked as Jason Cotton connected to  cut the deficit to three.

Right after that goal, Andrew Johnson had a great opportunity but couldn’t finish it, and then the Warriors hit another crossbar, perhaps payback for the two posts hit by the Bulldogs in the opening period.

Eric Margo would seal the deal with an empty netter.

The Warriors will continue on the trip over to Powell River for another matchup with the Kings. Game time is 7:15 from the Hap Parker Arena.

Rough second sinks Warriors

The West Kelowna Warriors surrendered a team record six goals in the second period en route to an 8-4 drubbing at the hands of the visiting Penticton Tuesday at Royal LePage Place.

The barrage was one more than the previous record set Oct. 29, 2006 when the Victoria Grizzlies scored five in the first period of a wild 9-7 win.

The Warriors held a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes on a power-play goal from Tanner Campbell who chipped the puck over a fallen Hunter Miska after a perfect cross crease feed from Liam Blackburn.

The Vees wasted little time getting that back in the second when Demico Hannoun beat Andy Desautels high glove side on what turned into a two-on-one.

Minutes later the Vees struck for two goals in a span of 29 seconds including their first of three with the man advantage.

Goals from Jonathan Desbiens and Blackburn 85 seconds apart tied it but again, a quick striking Vees capitalized on opportunities with three goals in a five minute span to take a 6-3 lead they would never relinquish.

Connor Chartier scored three times for the Vees including a game clincher into an empty net. Mike Lee, Steen Cooper, Tyson Jost and Jack Ramsey also scored for Penticton.

Blackburn added a third period goal, his second of the night, to round out the scoring for the Warriors.

The game was all about momentum and momentum swings.

Five-on-five, Warriors coach Rylan Ferster liked his team game but the disparity in penalties sucked the life out of the team.

"Penalties were 7-1 after two periods for them. We're killing penalties all night a team like that is going to score some goals," said a frustrated Ferster after the game.

"You have to realize too penalties are about momentum too and when you're killing penalties chances are you don't have many chances going the other way. It was unfortunate."

Penticton connected on three of their eight chances and, while the Warriors clicked on two of three opportunities with the man advantage, two came in the dying minutes with the outcome no longer in doubt.

Desautels turned aside 30 of 37 shots fired his way while Miska blocked 28 of the 32 shots he faced.

The squandered two points leaves the Warriors clinging to the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior Division.

With 14 games remaining in the regular season the Warriors are a point behind third place Merritt and five better than fifth place Salmon Arm.

Both Merritt and Salmon Arm also hold two games in hand.

"Yes we are in a battle so yes every two points is big," says Ferster who takes his team on a key three game road trip this weekend.

He says the battle plan is simple.

"Focus on the first one. Go into Port Alberni and hopefully have a good night.

You can't look too far ahead. Just look at the next game and try to get ready and focus on that. There's a lot of tough games down the stretch."

The road trip takes the Warriors to Port Alberni Friday, Powell River Saturday and Surrey Sunday. They'll play a key four pointer in Merritt a week Friday before returning home to host the same Centennials the next night to close out the month.

Half of their remaining 14 games are against teams below them in the standings.



Warriors rally, upend Kings

As the old adage goes, the worst lead in hockey is a 2-0 lead.

The West Kelowna Warriors squandered one Friday in a 6-3 loss in Vernon and again Saturday before rallying for a 6-4 win over the visiting Powell River Kings at Royal LePage Place.

Powell River erased a 2-0 deficit with three goals in a three minute and 32 second span early in the second to erase the deficit and squeeze in front by a goal.

The lead last all of 12 seconds as Liam Blackburn fired a one-timer from the left circle past Stefan Woring to tie it 3-3.

Blackburn set-up linemate Andrew Johnson six minutes later then scored the eventual game winner on a power-play 12 seconds into the third to power the Warriors to the win.

The key to the game was the all important shift after a goal which turned out to be Blackburn's tying marker.

"All the momentum was towards Powell River and when they get momentum we've struggled this year with breaking down and letting teams take advantage over a short period of time," says Blackburn.

"That was a huge shift for us."

Not only were the Warriors able to stem the tide but they got the game tying goal as well.

"It was off the rush and I tried to keep my feet moving. AJ (Andrew Johnson) put a good shot to the net and I was trying to do the little things right and get to the net an look for a rebound.

Luckily it popped right out to me and I banged it in."

Blackburn had an assist to go with his two goals while Johnson also chipped in with a pair of helpers.

Tyler Kunz with his first in a Warriors' uniform, Kristian Blumenschein and Jonathan Desbiens with the insurance marker also scored for the Warriors.

Jarid Lukosevicius, Kurt Keats, Hunter Findlater and JJ Coleshaw replied for Powell River.

"Tonight to give up three was tough but we got some timely bounces and our power-play clicked pretty good and we got some good looks," says head coach Rylan Ferster.

"We'll take it. At this time of year the wins are tough. We just want to stay in one of those top four spots and hopefully make the playoffs."

Ferster, who had a front row seat for Friday's collapse says there was a bit of a feeling of deja vu Saturday.

"A little bit. It happened so quick it's like wow, is this really going to happen to us here again.

But, credit to our guys Liam got that one back quick then we kind of got our feet back under us again."

If the Blackburn goal was the key to getting momentum back then an 88 second stretch early in the third was surely the final turning point.

The Warriors, who had not been penalized at all over the first 40 minutes, found themselves two men short for a minute and 28 seconds after Blumenschein and Kunz were assessed back-to-back holding penalties.

The Kings got one shot on goal while the Warriors defenders blocked three or four shots and kept their sticks active in keeping Powell River off the board.

Powell River did get a power-play marker in the dying second when the game was already out of reach.

Powell River was 1-3 on the power-play while the Warriors finished the night 3-5.

West Kelowna outshot the visitors 39-27 including 31-13 over the first 40 minutes.

The win keeps the Warriors a point up on Merritt and five clear of Salmon Arm in the race for third, fourth and fifth in the tight Interior Division.

Merritt holds three games in hand while Salmon Arm has played two fewer games.

The Warriors try to make it two in a row when they entertain the Interior Division leading Penticton Vees Tuesday.


Warriors snakebitten in Vernon

The West Kelowna Warriors got the start they wanted on Friday night, but couldn't sustain it in a 6-3 loss to the Vipers in Vernon.

The Warriors squandered leads of 2-0 and 3-1, giving up the final five goals in the loss.

West Kelowna got on the board halfway through the opening period when Liam Blackburn got his 15th of the season on his own rebound. Andrew Johnson and Jason Cotton drew the assists.
The Vipers came alive in the last 5 minutes of the period, but Andy Desautels stood tall to keep it  1-0 heading to the middle frame.

Josh Bly doubled the lead with the goal of the night with a picture-perfect deflection under the crossbar as he skated towards the net and a Kyle Marino point shot.

Vernon got that one back on Thomas Aldworth's first of the night on a five-on-three power-play, but the Warriors came right back with a power-play goal of their own to reinstate the 2-goal lead.

Just a minute and a half after that goal, Aldworth picked up a big rebound and buried it past Desautels to make it 3-2 in a period which saw 7 power-plays including three instances of five-on-three hockey.

It was all Vipers in the third. Aldworth tied it with his third of the night then Blaine Caton and Liam Finlay scored 39 seconds apart, and Luke Voltin hit an empty net to seal it.

The Warriors look to get back into the win column Saturday when they host the Powell River Kings, 7 p.m. at Royal LePage Place.

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