West Kelowna Warriors earned their first win on home ice Friday

Warriors finally win at home

Without question, Friday's 2-1 victory over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks was the biggest win of the BCHL season for the club.

And, not just because it was their first win in front of the Royal LePage Place faithful, or before the second largest crowd of the season, 611.

Those are both important, but so was the fact the Warriors were able to withstand the Silverbacks third period onslaught, and secure a well-deserved two points.

They turned a tenuous 1-0 lead into two on a perfectly placed shot from the slot for third-year forward Max Bulawka early in the final period.

Then, clinging to a one-goal lead late in the game, Brock Baier made probably his best save of the season, pushing across the crease and throwing up his glove to grab a sure goal from Simon Tassy, who had most of the net to shoot at after taking a perfect feed on a Silverbacks two-on-one.

You got the feeling after that save the Silverbacks wouldn't be able to find the equalizer.

It was a gutsy win for a Warriors team that has won three of its last five, and collected eight of a possible 10 points over that span. That, after digging a massive hole by losing eight-in-a-row and 11 of its first 12.

"It feels good for everybody, our players, our fans are finally able to leave here on a game night with a smile on their face," said head coach Brandon West.

The Warriors scored the only goal during a very tight-checking opening period when defenceman Andrew Viggars, who returned to the club after being released by the WHL's Calgary Hitmen, scored on a Warriors power play.

Parked near the edge of the crease, he tapped home a perfect back-door feed from John Evans.

The Silverbacks tried to impose their physical will after the goal, laying out some heavy body checks on their smaller opponents, but, for the most part, the Warriors bounced back.

The only exception was defenceman Spencer Hora, who was inadvertently clipped in the head and didn't return.

His status moving forward, at least over the short term, is not known.

Bulawks got the all-important 2-0 goal just 62 seconds into the third. It stood up as the winner after Dom Garozzo capped a spectacular individual effort with a sharp-angle backhand that squeezed between Baier and the post.

It was the only blemish on his night's work.

"He made a couple of massive saves. He was down-and-out on one save when it just happened to hit him.

"That was a hard-working save...he just found a way to get in front of it. He was a big part of that win tonight."

West added he was proud of the way the guys were able to find a way to win against the number one team in the BCHL.

The Warriors won't get much of a chance to saviour this one before they get right back at it again Saturday when the cellar-dwelling Merritt Centennials come to Royal LePage Place.

"We watched their game on Wednesday and they had a lot of jump in their step," said West.

"Much like our guys, we're all fighting for points.

"We know we have to play better tomorrow night than we did tonight. We beat a good team, but this win doesn't mean anything if we don't get after it tomorrow night (Saturday).

The Centennials have lost five-in-a-row and seven of eight, but are playing for a new head coach in Derek-Sweet Coulter.

Coulter was named interim head coach after Barry Wolfe was fired Wednesday due to some philosophical differences.

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