Jackson Kyrkostas registered his first career BC Hockey League hat trick to lead the West Kelowna Warriors to a sloppy, mistake-filled 7-3 victory over the Vernon Vipers Sunday afternoon at Royal LePage Place.
Playing their second game in less than 24 hours the Warriors were less than sharp, gift wrapping several Grade A chances, especially early on. But, as he did in relief the night before, Rorke Applebee was sharp, turning the Vipers away at every turn while his team built up a sizable lead.
Jack Pridham, Isaiah Norlin on a power play, Michael Salandra and Kyrkostas with what would turn out to be the game winner, all scored in the opening period as the Warriors built up a 4-0 lead despite the miscues.
"Maybe we were lucky to be up 4-0. Applebee comes to play and shuts the door on them. He definitely stole one a little bit, especially early and late," said head coach Simon Ferguson.
"We gave up too many prime opportunities. We're learning as we move along but we're finding a way as well.
"There are always going to be mistakes when you're playing back-to-back but it's something you've got to get used to."
Pridham took advantage of a Vernon mistake, Blocking an attempted clearing pass along the boards and powering to the net before sending a backhand past Colin Reay from in close.
Norlin doubled the lead on a power play when his wrist shot found its way past Reay who appeared to be screened on the play.
Salandra, much like Pridham, intercepted a clearing attempt and made his way toward the net before roofing his eighth of the year.
Kyrkostas banged home his 11th on a three-on-two, set up by linemates Viggo Nordström and Johannes Løkkeberg.
The Vipers scored the only two goals of the second to cut the lead in half but goals from Felix Caron and Kyrkostas sandwiched between a Vernon goal from Nick Mikan restored the three-goal lead.
Kyrkostas iced it with a minute left before the Vipers were able to get Reay to the bench for an extra attacker.
The line of Kyrkostas, Løkkeberg and Nordström combined for eight points on the day.
A lot will be expected of both Kyrkostas and Nordström over the next few weeks with Løkkeberg heading the the World Junior Hockey Championships to represent Norway and captain Brennan Nelson recovering from injury.
Defencemen Dylan Brooks and Jack Farrell also missed Sunday's game due to injury.
The Warriors, winners of seven in a row, get a few well deserved days off before continuing a stretch of five games in eight days Wednesday in Salmon Arm.
They conclude the first half of the season next weekend with back-to-back games against the Interior Division-leading Penticton Vees Friday at the SOEC and Saturday back at Royal LePage Place.
West Kelowna head into the pre-Christmas stretch second in the Interior Division, six points in back of Penticton and three up on Vernon and Salmon Arm.