Warriors woes deepen

The West Kelowna Warriors, offensively challenged for much of the season, have found their scoring touch of late, scoring 11 goals in their last two games.

They have just a single overtime tie to show for it. Over that span, they've given up 12, plus an empty net goal.

In seven games in December, the Warriors have surrendered 35 goals, picking up just two overtime wins and the overtime tie over that span.

The trend continued Friday in a 7-5 loss to the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters in the first game back for both teams after an 11-day Christmas break.

Cole Demers surrendered four goals on 19 shots, the final two in a span of 55 seconds midway through the second, before he was pulled in favour of Nik Amundrud.

The Smokies led 4-0 when the change was made.

Amundrud kept the Smoke Eaters at bay long enough for the offence to spring to life.

Jared Marino's 14th of the season cut into the deficit before the end of the second period.

Then, tallies from Jordon Todd (third), Jake Harrison (seventh) and Marino again in a three minute span early in the third pulled the Warriors even and breathed life into a snowy-night crowd of nearly 800.

But, a giveaway allowed the Smoke Eaters to regain the lead before Braeden Tuck broke in all alone shorthanded and beat Amundrud to put Trail up two with three minutes left.

Michael Ryan got one back on a power play but an empty net goal sealed it for the Smoke Eaters.

"I understand team defence and we all have to play together...I get that, but we have up 14 chances against and they got six goals," said head coach Rylan Ferster.

"Our goalies have to be better, it's that simple. We were out goaltended tonight."

The Warriors peppered Trail netminder Adam Marcoux with 50 shots, including 23 during a wild, and wide-open third period.

He came up with several key saves, including a spectacular pad stop off Matthew Lombardi early in the third. He also stoned Willie Riem on a penalty shot just seconds before Todd's goal made it 4-2.

The Warriors finished the night with one goal on six chances with the man advantage. Trail was held without a goal on their only chance on the power play.

Again, the Warriors dressed just 19 players, including eight defencemen, with five forwards still nursing injuries.

The good news, Parm Dhaliwal, Bennett Norlin and Lucas Cullen could be ready to return to the lineup next weekend when the Warriors make a three-game Island road trip.

They won't be available Saturday when they Warriors and Trail meet in the back half of the home-and-home set in Trail.

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