Story Courtesy Trevor Miller
The West Kelowna Warriors earned a goal late from Jake Bernadet and a 31-save performance by Justin Katz but fell short in a 3-1 loss to the Chilliwack Chiefs on Saturday night at the Chilliwack Coliseum.
Just as he did in his last start a week ago in Salmon Arm, Warriors goaltender Justin Katz was perfect through the opening 20 minutes, making 13 saves in the 1st period as the Warriors also had to kill of three opening period penalties including a five-minute major penalty assessed to Riley Sharun.
Katz had to be good on a number of occasions, specifically on a pass to the front of the net from the right face-off circle as Mateo Mrsic set up Tim Delay going to the goal before Katz gobbled up the puck for one of his 13 saves from the opening frame. In the Chiefs net, Austin McNicholas had to be sharp as well and turned aside all 8 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes of play to see the two teams head to the dressing room looking for offense.
Chilliwack pushed the pace in the 2nd period and took advantage in the game by opening the scoring just 48 seconds into the middle stanza with Brian Morse giving the Chiefs a 1-0 lead. After killing off the remaining 30 seconds of a penalty carrying over from the 1st period, the Warriors failed to clear the puck from their defensive end as Morse gathered the puck in the slot and snapped a shot past the glove side of Katz to give the Chiefs a 1-0 lead in the opening minute of the 2nd period.
A Chilliwack power play helped them to a 2-0 advantage courtesy of a one-time shot from AJ Lacroix. Mason Kesselring set up the one-time try with his pass from the left face-off circle as Lacroix buried his shot from the right side past the blocker of Katz at the 10:40 mark of the 2nd period to give the Chiefs a 2-0 edge.
Under a minute later, Chilliwack extended their lead to three goals as Brady Millburn helped the home squad to a three-goal lead. Dylan Kinch centered a puck from below the goal line on the glove side of Katz as he spotted Millburn at the front of the net, who finished on the blocker side as the Chiefs took a 3-0 lead and outshot West Kelowna by a 13-6 margin the middle frame of play.
The Warriors came out in the 3rd period and battled to begin the frame, working to get themselves back into the contest and had a couple of good looks with chances in front of the net on rebounds that they could not push past Chiefs goaltender Austin McNicholas.
West Kelowna was able to break the Chilliwack shutout bid as Jake Bernadet tallied his 7th marker of the year with 1:04 remaining in regulation to get the Warriors on the scoresheet. Bernadet went end-to-end, rushing from behind his goal up the left wing and cut into the Chiefs zone before wristing a shot past the blocker side of McNicholas just before the final minute of play to make it a 3-1 game.
Justin Katz stood tall in the Warriors goal, turning aside 31 of the 34 shots he faced in his 8th loss of the season while Austin McNicholas made 27 saves on 28 shots to earn his 12th win of the campaign.