Warriors get late comeback

It wasn't a classic by any stretch of the imagination, but for a team that just snapped a five-game losing streak, a win of any sort is welcome.

In one of the sloppiest games of the season, by both teams, the West Kelowna Warriors erased a three-goal deficit and beat the visiting Alberni Valley Bulldogs 6-5 before nearly 1,000 fans at Royal LePage Place.

The teams combined for 96 shots, including 40 in the first period, in a game that more resembled a Friday night pick-up game at times than a Junior A contest.

"Not how we want to play. Not the identity we want to have here," said Warriors head coach Geoff Grimwood.

"Extremely poor first 35 minutes. I thought at the end of the second we started pushing, and a good third.

"You've got to win ugly ones, you've got to wins games you don't deserve to win. I don't think we deserved to win, but we'll take it."

Willie Reim scored twice for the Warriors. Wyatt Head, Mike Hardman, Bennett Norlin and Lucas Cullen with the winner on a late third period power play, also scored.

The game was deadlocked at 2-2 after a wide open first 20 minutes, a period in which the Bulldogs outshot the Warriors 23-17.

Alberni jumped all over the Warriors in the second. They built a 5-2 lead on goals from Aaron Bohlinger, Michael Hodge and Dawson Tritt. Two of those came on odd man breaks.

The final goal spelled the end of the night for starter Brock Baier, who allowed five goals on 35 shots through just the first 32:55 of the game.

Connor Hopkins came in a shut the door the rest of the way, giving his team a chance to fashion a comeback.

Head got the comeback started two minutes later when his wrist shot found its way through a maze of legs and behind former Warrior netminder Cole Demers. The goal seconds after Demers made a great stop off Max Bulawka on an odd-man rush.

Hardman cut the deficit to one when he deflected Head's point shot for his 29th of the campaign.

Bennett Norlin notched the equalizer midway through the third. He took a long stretch pass from Lucas Cullen, broke in all alone and beat Demers with a shot to the top corner that appeared to hit the back bar and come straight out.

It hit Demers on the back and went back in. The referee had waved off the initial shot before the puck re-entered the net.

Cullen completed the comeback, tipping home a pass from Parm Dhaliwal at the edge of the crease with 4:20 to go in regulation.

"I have always believed (power play) has to go one-for-one at the right time, and those guys, Parm, Dubes and Cullen have done that for us a few times this year."

The Warriors were 1-2 on the power play, while the Bulldogs were unsuccessful on both of their opportunities.

Alberni outshot the Warriors 51-45 on the evening.

The Warriors, winners of two in a row, get a few days to savour the mini-streak before getting back to work at the end of the week.

They'll host Vernon Friday night and Prince George Sunday at noon. Both games will centre around Rogers Hometown Hockey, which takes over the Mount Boucherie complex Friday through Sunday.

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