Warriors crown road weary Kings
The West Kelowna Warriors ran their winning streak to three Sunday afternoon with a convincing 4-1 victory over the visiting Powell River Kings.
The Warriors withstood an early Powell River onslaught then wore down the road weary and injury riddled Kings playing their third game in less than three days.
"We realized they had some really tough travel the last three days. They were in Victoria Friday and Langley last night so they had some really tough games and tough travel," says Warriors coach Rylan Ferster.
"They stuck to the game plan - we wanted to get pucks deep and work on their defence - they only had five. I thought the guys executed the game plan very well tonight.
"The kids played hard tonight and I thought there were some really good efforts blocking some shots in the third when they mustered up some more efforts.
Seb Lloyd, David Pope, Liam Blackburn and Matt Anholt into an empty net scored for the Warriors. Nyshan Basra ruined Andy Desautel's bid for a second straight shutout 12:37 into the third period.
It took the Warriors until midway through the second period before they were able to beat Johan Imoo in the Powell River net.
Prior to Lloyd's opening goal Imoo made several spectacular saves, beating Pope on a short breakaway and kicking out his left pad to deny Lloyd on a three-on-one break.
Imoo then denied Pope and Carl Hesler on a bang-bang play midway through the second.
"He was good. We kept saying just get pucks to the net and keep getting traffic," says Ferster.
"You get a couple of lucky breaks and they are going to go in but you have to create your own breaks. I thought we were shooting more pucks than we usually do and from different spots. That's a good sign for us."
Lloyd opened the scoring when he grabbed a rebound off a scramble in front of Imoo and roofed his 10th from the edge of the crease.
Pope, denied on a breakaway in the first, would not be deterred in the second. Pope took a pass from newcomer Taki Pantziris near the front of the net, waited until Imoo went down and deposited the puck over the Powell River netminder.
Blackburn notched his seventh of a power-play 6 minutes into the third when his one-timer from the right circle beat Imoo to the far side.
The Warriors lost forward Jordon Masters for most of the final 40 minutes with what Ferster termed a lower body injury.
Sunday's win allowed the Warriors to remain in a fourth place tie with the Merritt Centennials in the Interior Division.
Merritt edged Salmon Arm 5-4 in overtime Sunday.
The Warriors are three points back of the Silverbacks and six behind the second place Vernon Vipers. West Kelowna hold three games in hand on both.
Sunday's win begins a crucial week for the Warriors who play in Vernon Wednesday and Penticton Friday before hosting the Vees Saturday in their final game before the Christmas break.
"It is (a key stretch). We're going to play the top two teams in our division in the next three games," says Ferster.
"It's also a challenge we're looking forward to You want to play the top teams - it's fun. I think our guys get up for it, certainly when we play Penticton and when we play Vernon. They're two very tough buildings to go into and try to get points."
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