Vees edge Warriors 4-3

The West Kelowna Warriors were edged 4-3 by the Penticton Vees Saturday night.

The Vees came on strong with lots of shots on goal in the first period.

Eric Linell rushed up the right side of the ice and fired the puck past Brock Baier’s blocker to give the Vees an early 1-0 lead. The Warriors answered five minutes later, after a turnover in the Vees' zone when Wyatt Head dumped the puck to Mike Hardman, who found a wide-open Max Bulawka for a tap-in goal to tie the game.

That was the Warriors' annual Teddy Bear Toss goal, and the ice was filled with stuffed toys for charity.

But, the Vees fired right back when Linell took advantage of a Warriors turnover, leading to a breakaway goal to make it 2-1 after the first period.

The second was all Vees to start again. Baier had to be sharp a couple times, with Warriors giveaways in their own zone.

Andre Ghantous scored his seventh of the season for the Vees, extending the lead to two.

Late in the period, the Warriors got their first surge of the game, drawing a penalty that allowed the special teams unit to go to work with the man advantage. Parm Dhaliwal received a cross-ice feed from Mike Hardman to get the Warriors back into it. 

The Warriors took that boost into the third period and peppered Vees goaltender Jack LaFontaine. But, a controversial penalty call midway through the period allowed the Vees to regain a two-goal lead on the powerplay.

The Warriors had a bigger hill to climb in the final 10 minutes, but capitalized on the powerplay. Anthony Bishop fed the puck to Dhaliwal, who made a sweet pass to Lucas Cullen to cut the lead to one.

Trailing 4-3 late, the Vees spent the remaining minutes of the game in their own zone and were able to rely on stellar goaltending from Jack LaFontaine to keep it a one-goal game.  

The Warriors next play Jan. 4 versus the Vernon Vipers, at Kal Tire Place in Vernon. 

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