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West Kelowna Warriors needed extra time to edge the Merritt Centennials 4-3 Friday

Warriors prevail in OT

West Kelowna Warriors rookie forward Cal Hughes has started heating up again.

The Westwood MA native scored twice Friday, including the game winner in overtime leading the Warriors to a 4-3 victory over the visiting Merritt Centennials.

It was a game the Warriors appeared to have total control of leading 3-0 after one and holding onto the lead through much of the middle frame.

But costly penalties at inopportune times gave the Centennial a way back.

A power play goal late in the second gave the Centennials some life then a second goal just 49 seconds into the third with Brennan Nelson in the box for highs ticking brought the visitors to within a goal.

The Warriors appeared to regain the two goal lead but the whistle for a penalty blew just as the puck entered the net.

The Centennial scored on that man advantage with Michael Salandra in the sin bin to tie it and force overtime.

Merritt controlled much of the third period, outshooting the Warriors 20-9 over the final 20 minutes.

The Warriors had the best chance to win it early in the extra period when Merritt goaltender Karlis Merzsargs fell along the boards while racing to a loose puck in the defensive end.

However, the Warriors were unable to secure the centering pass with the cage wide open negating the opportunity.

Hughes eventually iced it 3:02 into overtime when he appeared to turn his skate to redirect a Jack Pridham centering pass past Mezsargs.

The Warriors were the better team in the opening 20 in building a 3-0 lead.

Trent Wilson took a pass from Nelson off the left wing and sent a wrist shot to the far corner from the bottom of the left circle.

Midway through the period Hughes doubled the lead when he ripped a one-timer off a pass from behind the net from Felix Caron. The goal came second after Caron had hit his second post of the period.

Salandra made it 3-0 in the final minute of the period when he deked to the backhand on a shorthanded breakaway.

Own Drury had a great chance to build on the lead late in the second when he was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down while on another shorthanded breakaway, but Mezsarge had the save keeping the score 3-0.

The Centennials would get on the board seconds later on the same power play.

While not wanting to be highly critical of a victory, head coach Simon Ferguson says he was not pleased with the effort for much of the night.

"We scored on our chances they didn't and that's why we had the 3-0 lead. I didn't feel like we played well in the first, the second or third," said Ferguson.

"Simple plays. It's like we're overcomplicating the game. We are trying to force things that aren't there. We have a direct pass in front of us and we want to look for the cross-ice play.

"For me it's attention to the way we play. We \took some bad penalties and we got some bad penalties."

All-star defenceman Isaiah Nortlin left the game in the first period after taking a heavy hit.

His status moving forward won't be know until after he is evaluated.

The Warriors have now won two in a row, both needing extra time.

They're on the road Wednesday in Vernon and Friday in Merritt before returning home to host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks next Saturday.



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