Courtesy of Jon Zacks
The West Kelowna Warriors remain the hottest team in the BC Hockey League, after a double overtime triumph in Victoria on Friday.
After a slow start, West Kelowna fought back from a 3-0 deficit to eventually win it 5-4, extending the team’s unbeaten streak to a club-record 10 games.
A widely-anticipated match-up heading in, the Warriors seemed unable to cope with Victoria’s transition game early on. Goals from Mark McLellan (shorthanded), Gerry Fitzgerald (power-play), and Garrett Forster (even strength) spotted the home side an early lead, and things were looking bleak for West Kelowna.
“We weren’t that good” Mac Ferner says, admitting the Grizzlies were the better squad in the opening frame. “We weren’t urgent enough” he says, adding “Our intensity needed to be higher.”
The second period, however, brought a new complexion to the game, as the Warriors began to force the issue and claw back into the game.
Power-play goals from Jordan Masters and Tyson Dallman got the Tribe back into the game, and a quick tally from Liam Blackburn then knotted the score, with the Warriors earning momentum heading to the third.
The Warriors earned their first lead of the game on a Reid Simmonds tally six minutes into the third. However, former Warrior Jaden Schmeisser would strike back just one minute later, sending the game to overtime.
The teams exchanged a handful of glorious chances in the four-on-four and three-on-three OT frames, with both teams hitting the post and both goalies making remarkable saves. West Kelowna also killed off a 4-on-3 power-play after a slashing minor to Tyson Dallman.
Finally, halfway through the second overtime period, Jason Cotton buried a Seb Lloyd feed to give the Warriors their fifth straight victory.
“It’s really fun playing in those kind of games” Ferner grinned when the dust had settled.
The rookie defenceman knows his team can carry plenty of momentum into the rest of the road trip, but also insists that Friday’s match-up was special on its own. “It’s an absolute thrill to play in.”
For his part, Warriors Coach Rylan Ferster was also happy with his team’s response in a game he had flagged as a “key test” for the club.
“What we liked was the fact that we were down and didn’t panic” Ferster says. “The guys were saying the right things on the bench, and we came from 3-0 down to beat a very good team.”
West Kelowna’s coastal road trip continues Saturday in Alberni Valley before a Sunday tilt in Chilliwack.