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BCHL  

Warriors earn key win

The West Kelowna Warriors jumped all over a fatigued Prince George Spruce Kings Sunday, scoring early, and often in a 6-1 win.

The Spruce Kings rolled into town at the end of an Interior Division road trip that included stops in Penticton Friday and Vernon Saturday night. Couple that with a noon start time Sunday, a time moved up two-and-a-half hours to accommodate the live Rogers Hometown Hockey broadcast.

"Obviously, Prince George is a really good hockey club. They beat Vernon last night in Vernon which is not an easy feat," said Warriors head coach Geoff Grimwood.

"I think we were fortunate to catch a tired hockey club, but we took advantage of it. I thought our guys played well, they shot the puck early, and we were pretty good from there."

The Warriors opened up a 2-0 lead before the game was three minutes old - chasing starter Keenan Rancier after just five shots and two goals.

Mike Hardman opened up the scoring 65 seconds in on a power play. With the Warriors buzzing around the Spruce Kings net, Hardman took a pass from Parm Dhaliwal behind the goal line.

He spun and threw the puck to the front of the net. It his a defender's skate past Racier.

90 second later, Anthony Bishop made it 2-0 with a harmless wrist shot from the high slot that went in, and out of Rancier's glove and in.

Wyatt Head made it 3-0 with a shot from the left point that beat a screened Logan Neaton, who came on in place of Rancier.

The Spruce Kings got one of those back later in the period, but the Warriors responded with three more in the second to put the game away.

Chase Dubois, then goals 1:10 apart from Dhaliwal on the power play and Willie Reim made it 6-1 after 40.

Connor Hopkins, who got his second straight start after a stellar performance Friday, made three spectacular saves early in the third to dash any hopes the Spruce Kings had of a third period comeback.

It's been a while since the Warriors have seemingly had a game well enough in hand where Grimwood could just roll all four lines and all six defenceman through the final period.

"You don't want to get it too loose, but obviously it's an opportunity to give some guys some minutes that sometimes don't always get as much.

"You get out of those games without any injuries and without any suspensions, and without any more goals in the third period, I thought that was fine."

It was an important win for the Warriors who find themselves in a battle with Vernon, Salmon Arm and Trail for fourth in the Interior Division.

The Warriors are four point up on Vernon and five better than Salmon Arm with seven of their next away from Royal LePage Place.

They play in Langley Tuesday, Surrey the following Wednesday before a home-and-home with Salmon Arm. That's followed by their final Island Division road trip and a solo trip up to Prince George.

They'll wrap up the regular season with three of their final four at home, a stretch that will likely determine where they finish the regular season.



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