Eagles soar as Warriors blow late lead
The West Kelowna Warriors continue to frustrate their fans, their coaches and likely themselves.
The Warriors outplayed the Surrey Eagles for two-and-a-half periods Friday night but gave up three late goals in a 4-3 defeat.
West Kelowna appeared to have the game well in hand, leading 3-1 with 10 minutes left.
Danton Heinen got one back with nine minutes left to give the Eagles some hope then tied it with a deft deflection on a power-play with five minutes left in regulation time.
Just 26 seconds later Luke Sandler pounced on a juicy rebound and beat Andy Desautels with what proved to be the game winner.
"3-1 with nine minutes to go and to give up three goals in the last bit like that is - unfortunate," says Warriors coach Rylan Ferster who says it's very frustrating the way things have gone of late.
"For 50 minutes we played a very good hockey game. You have to play 60 to win and tonight it's unfortunate the way a lot of these have been."
Once again, the Warriors lost in large part because they lost the special teams battle.
"Two pk goals tonight and again our power-play doesn't score. Not good."
The Warriors built a 3-1 lead on the strength of some hard forechecking and relentless play inside the Surrey end of the rink.
Reid Simmonds opened the scoring near the midway mark of the second. Linemates Matt Anholt and Tyson Dallman out battled Surrey defenders behind the net.
Anholt got the puck in front to Simmonds who was all alone. He calmly backhanded the puck past Bo Didur.
After the Eagles tied it Seb Lloyd put the Warriors back up by one with his eighth of the season.
Anholt made it 3-1 with a one-timer from the slot off a rebound.
The Warriors had several chances to put the game away earlier in the game. Both Lloyd and Adam Plant, who can't buy a goal this season, hit the goalpost on Warriors power-plays. Lloyd had a chance for another goal but was unable to poke a loose puck in the crease across the goal line.
"I thought we had some good looks (on the power-play) but again at the end of the day looks are just that. You have to score goals to make them count and we didn't do that," added Ferster.
As frustrating as things have been over the last five weeks Ferster says he the team can turn a corner.
"Tough times don't last. Tough people do. You get knocked down nine times you get up 10," says Ferster.
"That's all you can do. It's not about how hard you get hit it's about how fast you get up. We have to continue to move forward and try to do the right things as a team and as a staff."
The Warriors only get a day to put this one behind them before they step on the ice again Sunday in Salmon Arm.
They return home again next Friday when the Merritt Centennials pay a visit to Royal LePage Place.
Next Friday's game is the annual Warriors Teddy Bear toss night.
All teddy bears collected next Friday will be turned over to the Westside Community Food Bank.
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