Warriors even series in OT

The West Kelowna Warriors found a way.

They weren't at their best for large stretches Wednesday night, but they battled, overcame a 1-0 deficit, and found a way to even their best-of-seven opening round series with the Wenatchee Wild.

Parm Dhaliwal scored the two biggest goals of his BCHL career, including a spectacular individual effort on the overtime winner, leading the Warriors to a 2-1 victory.

It evened the series at two-games apiece, and guaranteed the series will return to Wenatchee for at least a game six.

"It's spectacular. It's fitting that Parm Dhaliwal gets the winner," said head coach Brandon West.

"He's grinded real hard here for three years. Post-season success hasn't been here for him, and I thought he was fantastic tonight. We challenged our top line tonight and I think they really responded.

"To see him get the winner in that fashion was pretty special to see."

The Warriors had the better of the chances in a scrambly, but tense overtime period.

But, with the play inside the Warriors end, Dhaliwal intercepted the puck at the Warriors blue line, shook off one defender and raced down the left wing with a second defender beside him.

"I skated as fast as I can, drove the net, and put a shot on net, and it went in," said Dhaliwal of the sharp angle winner.

"I just tried to get it as high as possible over the goalie's shoulder. I got lucky and it just went over."

He also scored the game-typing goal 5:24 into the third period. The Warriors won an offensive zone faceoff and worked the puck to Lucas Bahn at the right point whose wrist shot hit Dhaliwal's skate and deflected past Cal Sandquist.

Wenatchee got on the board first for the first time in the series. Lucas Sowder intercepted a pass at the Warriors blueline, broke down the left wing, and beat Connor Hopkins with a high-rising wrist shot from the left circle.

The goaltenders stole the show from there. Both Hopkins and Sandquist made some outstanding saves to keep their teams in it.

Sandquist robbed the Warriors on a shorthanded two-on-one in the first, then made a spectacular glove save off Bennett Norlin in the second.

But, the biggest stops of the night came from Hopkins, who made two highlight reel stops when the Wild came down three-on-one while shorthanded.

He threw out his left pad to stop the initial shot, then threw his glove down to stop the rebound.

He then stretched to make a game-saving stop on the doorstep with 55.7 seconds left in regulation.

"I don't know if they were first stars tonight, but they were sensational," added West.

"I think when both teams leave the rink tonight will know the goaltenders stole the show."

The Warriors, who had just two power plays over the first three games, were handed five Wednesday.

But, despite scoring on their first two opportunities in the series, they were shut down by the aggressive Wild penalty kill.

The Warriors absorbed what could be a major blow in the second period when leading scorer Mike Hardman left with what appeared to be an upper body injury.

He appeared to take a punch to the jaw from Wild forward Matt Dorsey. Hardman lay on the ice for several minutes before skating slowly off the ice and straight into the dressing room.

He didn't return.

West didn't have an update on his condition after the game.

Both teams will likely take it easy Thursday before returning to the ice for game five Friday at Royal LePage Place.

Game six is set for Sunday in Wenatchee, with a seventh game, if needed , the following night in the Washington city.

The other three Interior Division series are on the brink of concluding.

The Cowichan Valley Capitals are on the cusp of fashioning one of the biggest upsets in BCHL playoff history.

The Capital shutout Penticton 3-0 Wednesday to take a commanding 3-1 lead in that series. Game five is Saturday in Penticton.

Cowichan won just 17 games all season, and finished 39 points behind the Vees in the standings.

Vernon is also a game away from dispatching of Salmon Arm after beating the Silverbacks 2-1.

Trail is also up 3-1 on the Merritt Centennials following a 3-2 victory.

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