Warriors eke out exhibition win
Aug 31, 2012 / 10:30 pm
Brett McKinnon waited until the last possible second to ensure the West Kelowna Warriors would end their pre-season schedule on a winning note.
McKinnon backhanded the game winner past Evan McCarthy from in close with .01 seconds left on the clock, giving the Warriors a hard fought 5-4 victory over the NAHL's Wenatchee Wild.
"I was hoping for a shot and just get a rebound or something and it popped out to me out front and I was able to tuck it home," says McKinnon of the winner.
"I was pretty excited. It was a good win for the guys."
The last second win came on the heals of a 4-3 win the night before in Penticton when Brent Lashuk snapped a 3-3 tie with the game winner late in the third period.
Head coach Rylan Ferster agrees it was just as important how the Warriors won these two games as were the wins themselves.
"To see how happy our guys were with that win, it means something. We don't get points but it means something to them," says Ferster.
"I think we just have that push back attitude here this year. I don't know if we lacked it last year because the guys played really hard but we just didn't get that lucky bounce. Hopefully those bounces are going to come this year."
Lashuk, Seb Lloyd, Jetlan Houcher and Jake Uglem also scored for the Warriors during the seesaw affair that saw the teams tied 1-1 after one and 2-2 after two.
Lashuk had a chance for his second early in the second when he was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down at the end of a nifty rush through the Wild defence, however, McCarthy stopped his attempt to go five hole.
Wenatchee twice forged a one goal lead in the third only to have the Warriors come back and tie it.
Uglam, with a seeing eye screen shot from the right point tied the game at 4-4 with just over five minutes left setting up McKinnon's heroics.
While McKinnon's game winner had the crowd buzzing it was a bonnybrook in the first period involving 11 of the 12 players on the ice that had the Warriors scratching their heads and concerned about the availability of defenceman Josh Monk for the season opening Showcase Event in Chilliwack next season.
Monk received a gross-match penalty during the brawl at 13:56 of the opening period after presumably being overly aggressive in voicing his displeasure to the referee claiming he had been eye-gouged during the melee.
In Monk's defence, photographic evidence appeared to show he did indeed get his eyes gouged in the skirmish.
The brawl began when Warriors captain Max French bumped Wenatchee netminder Robert Nichols while both players were racing for a loose puck near the left faceoff dot. French appeared to try and avoid the collision but made contact with Nichols.
He was jumped by two Wenatchee players then everybody joined in including Nichols who belted Monk on the side of the head with his blocked.
Warriors netminder Tyler Briggs remained inside his own blueline despite a rather emphatic invitation from Nichols.
Ferster says he was upset with the treatment Monk received from the officials.
""I was upset at the way it was called. I've been coaching now for a long time and I have never seen a call like that in my life," says Ferster.
"I thought it was terrible to do that to a young man in the exhibition season to give him a gross misconduct and a match. It's totally opposite of what he called. He (referee) knew there was an eye gouge but he said he never saw it and then he gives a guy that."
Ferster says it's disappointing the officiating would be like that at this level.
Monk's fate for the start of the regular season is now in the hands of the BC Hockey League.
Eight players were ejected, four from each team as the clubs combined for 125 minutes in penalties during that one melee.
A few minutes earlier the Warriors lost defenceman Brett Zarazun when he was tossed for fighting during a minor skirmish after McKinnon had drilled a Wenatchee player hard into the boards.
In all, the teams amassed 161 penalty minutes during the first period alone.
The Warriors finished pre-season with a 2-1-1 record.
They now have a week of practice ahead of them before heading to Chilliwack for the Showcase Event next weekend.
The Warriors will face Salmon Arm Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. and Surrey Sunday at 5:30.
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