Warriors wear Cardiac Kids label well
It's hard to know exactly when or where the term 'Cardiac Kids' first popped up in sports vernacular.
The 1967 Boston Red Sox, 1977 BC Lions and 1980 Cleveland Browns were all adorned with the nickname for their knack of late game heroic comebacks.
West Kelowna Warriors - welcome to the club.
Over the course of their current 12 game unbeaten streak, the hottest team in the BC Hockey League has roared back from deficits of two or more goals on six occasions.
Three time, they trailed by two goals with 90 seconds or less left in regulation time only to score twice with the goalie on the bench to force overtime.
The leader of that charge - veteran forward David Pope.
Over the past 12 games Pope has scored 10 goals - five of those coming during those frantic final few seconds with the goalie on the bench.
Pope says a big part is the confidence the coaches have in him to put him on the ice during those key, last minute situations.
"A lot of it is just being in the right areas at the right time and having the urgency and wanting to score that late goals," says Pope.
"Obviously anytime I'm on the ice I want the puck in my hands - scoring goals is my game. I just try to get open and try to follow the puck. Hopefully it comes to me and, if I do get the opportunity I score on it."
Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster says Pope sees the game very well and has a great shot, attributes he says you want in a player when you need a goal with the game on the line.
"Dave is a guy that can find that open spot. He doesn't have to be the guy that has to go and get it (puck), if you put it on Dave's stick in the slot, chances are he's going to get a pretty good shot away," says Ferster who also credits the chemistry Pope has with linemates Carl Hesler and Liam Blackburn.
While it is a positive feeling knowing the team is never completely down and out regardless of the score, Pope says being forced to come back from deficits is not something the team wants to get into a habit of having to rely on.
"You never want to be playing from behind and when you have leads you want to be able to play with those leads and possibly even make them bigger," says Pope.
"I think the urgency to start things right and play a full 60 minutes is definitely there."
Ferster agrees, saying the ability to storm back is encouraging but there is a down side.
"There is certainly some concern. At this time of year I think you are looking for a 60 minute effort...not that we're not getting it all the time because we are playing pretty good teams," says Ferster.
"I think the inconsistency in our game right now is we'll have a lapse of five or 10 minutes and giving up goals. We just can't afford to do that. Obviously other teams are going to score goals on you but when you have stretches where you are unfocused and other teams are scoring maybe two goals, it makes it tough when you are always chasing the game."
Ferster says he has confidence in his team's ability to play both from behind and with the lead, saying it would be 'pretty arrogant' on their part to think they will always have the lead throughout an entire 60 minutes.
The Warriors put their club record 12 game unbeaten streak on the line Friday when they travel to Merritt to face the fifth place Centennials.
Saturday the Warriors return home to face the Vernon Vipers. The Warriors will be looking to extend their club record eight game home ice unbeaten streak against the Vipers who sit six points in back of the second place Warriors.
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