For Warriors, 8 is enough

Finally healthy among its forward group for the first time since early in the season, the West Kelowna Warriors are finally able to show the depth they thought was there when the season started.

The Warriors punctuated that depth Tuesday with an 8-2 crushing of the Surrey Eagles at Royal LePage Place.

It's their biggest offensive output of the season, and gives them 15 goals in three games since both Matt Kowalski and Chase Stevenson returned to the lineup.

The Warriors got production from each of their four lines Tuesday as seven players found the back of the net and 13 of the 18 skaters managed at least one point.

Ryan Steele, acquired from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 11 games ago, scored his seventh and eighth goals to pace the attack.

Michael Lombardi, Chase Dubois and Parm Dhaliwal all had a goal and two assists. Stevenson, Jordon Todd and Max Bulawka all added singles in the rout.

Michael Ryan picked up three assists.

"The forward group is really deep, and any line can contribute on any night," said assistant coach Shae Naka.

"We have a lot of wiggle room to move guys around. We really flipped the lineup from the weekend and changed everybody and saw some results."

Naka said the team has had to endure long stretches this season where they weren't able to make those types of changes because they were so short up front.

The Warriors got off to a quick start against a Surrey team in a dogfight for second through fourth with Langley and Chilliwack in the Coastal Division.

Dhaliwal opened the scoring four minutes in when he banged home a rebound at the back end of a pretty three-way passing play. Lombardi made it 2-0 on a wraparound four minutes later before Stevenson scored his second since returning from injury with a wrist shot off the right wing.

They kept coming in the second and upped the lead to four when Dubois blasted a one-timer from the slot for his 18th of the campaign. Soon after, Steele scored from the side of the net to make it 5-0, and chase Surrey starter Mario Cavaliere from the net.

His backup, Daniel Davidson surrendered three third period goals on 14 shots by the eight minute mark before he was brought back to bench in favour of Cavaliere.

"After the weekend we had we needed a response, and we certainly got one tonight from our club," added Naka.

"Our start was outstanding, getting a lot of chances and a lot of shots. Hopefully our guys see how good they can be when they really buy in, and compete the way they need to every night.

"We did so many good things tonight and the score reflected that. But, when we don't do that, the score can be flipped on us."

Nik Amundrud was rarely tested, surrendering just the two goals on 24 shots.

Tuesday's win snapped a two-game losing streak, and allowed the Warriors to pull four points clear of Salmon Arm in the fight for fifth in the Interior Division.

The Silverbacks do hold a game in hand.

The Warriors now hit the road for their final Island trip of the season.

They open up in Cowichan Friday before moving on to play Powell River Saturday and Chilliwack Sunday.

The Warriors don't return home until Feb. 17, when the entertain the Island Division leading Victoria Grizzlies.

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