Warriors bitten by Vipers

The West Kelowna Warriors got an outstanding performance from Connor Hopkins, but were unable to manufacture a goal at the other end.

Hopkins made 33 saves, but allowed the lone goal of the game as the Vernon Vipers nipped the Warriors 1-0 before more than 1,200 on the eve of Rogers Hometown Hockey at Royal Le Page Place.

Elan Bar lev wise notched the only goal of the game late in the opening period.

The Warriors misfired on a three-on-two going one way, allowing the Vipers to turn back for a two-on-one of their own.

Bar lev wise dashed down ice, and, using a teammate as a decoy, fired a shot that Hopkins was able to stop. But, the rebound popped back out to Bar le wise, whose backhand beat the Warriors netminder.

The Warriors best chance of the night came moments into the contest. Mike Hardman, whose 29 goals leads the Warriors, found himself alone in the left faceoff circle.

Aiden Porter made a great glove save to keep Hardman off the board.

The Vernon defence suffocated the Warriors the rest of the night, preventing West Kelowna from getting many real good looks at Porter. Shots were either smothered, or the rebound was cleared out of harms way.

"I thought we saw the best team in the league right now," said Warriors head coach Geoff Grimwood.

"They've played really good hockey since Christmas, it always seems to be 1-0 or 2-1 with them. So, I thought it was a good idea of what a playoff game is going to look like for our guys.

Hopkins kept his team in the game with several outstanding saves. He robbed Ben Sanderson with a sprawling glove save when the game was still scoreless, and sprawled to make a diving stop of a drive from Will Dow-Kenny in the third.

He gave the offence a chance to get back into the game, but the Warriors were just unable to find a way to get to the net.

"I think we have an offensively skilled group, but it's the old adage, in playoff hockey, the space gets smaller and loose pucks get tougher to get to.

"We need to find that level of grit. We'll get there, I'm confident of that, but it wasn't there tonight."

The loss snapped the Warriors two-game winning streak, and allowed the Vipers to creep to within three points of the fourth place Warriors.

Salmon Arm and Trail, who both lost Friday, are four and eight points back respectively as the bottom half of the Interior Division continues to tighten up.

The Warriors look to get back in the win column when they host the Prince George Spruce Kings Sunday at noon.


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