Warriors stay alive, force game 6
The West Kelowna Warriors won't go quietly into the night.
The Warriors scored four unanswered goals in the second period and weathered a third period onslaught for a 4-1 victory over the Vernon Vipers to force game six in the best-of-seven Interior Division semi-final.
David Pope scored twice including the game winner while Kyler Hope and captain Matt Anholt added singles.
Ben Tegtmeyer added a pair of assists in the win.
Brendan Persley scored the lone Viper goal during a wild scramble in front of Warriors netminder Cody Porter just 87 seconds into the third.
They were unable to beat the Warriors 16-year-old rookie the rest of the way.
The Warriors were buoyed by the return of defenceman Ryan Ivey, who had played just once since Jan 19 and forward Jason Cotton injured in game one of the series.
Ivey agreed it was probably their best effort of the series to date.
"Everybody bought in and we understood that it was do or die," says Ivey.
"We all did our roles, we didn't do too much. Everyone did what they had to do and we pulled away with the victory."
Ivey says belief in one another was probably the biggest difference between game five and the previous three games.
"They realized we were short staffed so maybe we were feeling a little sorry for ourselves. Rylan talked about it really well to keep our heads on straight.
The guys stepped up today. I'm really proud of the guys. We earned it now we have to go into Vernon and win game six too."
After a scoreless first period the Warriors jumped on the Vipers with three goals in a span 5:27 in the middle frame.
Kyler Hope opened the scoring deflecting Jason Cotton's point shot on the Warriors fifth power-play of the night.
Pope made it 2-0 1:26 later on a backhand off a nice fed from Carl Hesler. Pope would strike again on another power-play on a wrist shot from the right point that alluded a screen Austin Smith.
Matt Anholt capped off the Warriors scoring three minutes later.
"It was big in the fact that our backs were against the wall and we were fighting for our lives and I think that's kind of what we did tonight," says Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster.
"I thought we worked pretty hard and I thought it was a pretty even game when you look at the shots. We have to get ready for tomorrow now - we haven't done anything yet, we're still down 3-2 in the series."
The Vipers found themselves in penalty trouble through much of the first two periods. In fact the Warriors wound up with six power-plays during the decisive second period alone.
West Kelowna went 2-9 on the power-play while the Vipers were held without a goal on five opportunities, three of those in the third period in which the Vipers dominated play.
Porter and defenceman Mac Ferner, who must have blocked a dozen shots over these three third period penalty kills were easily the best penalty killers over the course of the game.
The Warriors also lost the services of defenceman Ryan Fraser-Lee who did not come out for the third period with a lower body injury.
His status is day-to-day.
He joins Seb Lloyd, Jordon Masters, Taki Pantziris, Adam Plant and Andy Desautels who all missed the game due to injury.
Vernon forward Dexter Dancs was missing from the Vipers line-up as he sat out game one of a three game suspension for running Desautels Saturday in Vernon.
Ivey says the key to Tuesday's game is simple.
"Get the first goal. As everyone probably knows know the first one who scores wins so absolutely."
Not only has the team that scored first won each game of the series, they have yet to give up the lead or find themselves tied.
Game six in the series is set for Vernon tomorrow night.
Should a seventh game be needed it would be played back at Royal LePage Place Wednesday.
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