Warriors put up 9, grill Smokies

A tough week of practice was just what the doctor ordered for the West Kelowna Warriors.

The Warriors scored four times in a little over three minutes early in the first period and cruised to a convincing 9-2 thrashing of the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters.

The win was the first for the Warriors in three home games and avenged a 3-1 loss in Trail seven days earlier.

Max French and linemate Brett McKinnon paved the way with two goals and two assists apiece.

Rookie Brent Lashuk also scored a pair, his first two BC Hockey League goals.

Ambrose Firkus and Braxton Bilous also scored their first BCHL goals while Marcus Basara added the other.

Josh Monk, in his first game back after serving a three game suspension, chipped in with a pair of assists.

It was the top line of French, McKinnon and Reid Simmonds that got things going right off the opening shift.

"That's what we're supposed to do first shift. You have to set the tone for the entire game," says McKinnon, the game's number two star.

"I think we did that. We came out hard and wanted to fire it up."

McKinnon says the team was ready to go after three less than spectacular efforts.

"We were excited all week. We had a great week of practice and we were fired up right from the start to get this win."

Assistant coach Brent Gough agreed the first shift was key to getting the team off and running.

"Those guys are our horses - those guys are key," says Gough.

"If I was a visiting team I would probably hate to play against that line. Those guys are going to come at you all night long and pound you and that's what they did right out of the gate."

That shift helped the Warriors jump out to an early 4-0 lead before the game was eight minutes old chasing 17-year-old rookie Braden Krogfoss from the net after scoring four times on just 10 shots.

Lyndon Stanwood allowed the other five goals on 35 shots.

In his defence, Krogfoss didn't have a lot of help giving up goals to French and Basara on two-on-one breaks and Firkus on a wicked slapshot from 30 feet out in the slot.

The Warriors led 4-1 and 6-1 after the first and second periods respectively, before closing out the scoring with three straight in the final 20 minutes.

Garrett McMullen and Brent Baltus were the only two Smoke Eaters to beat Tyler Briggs, who started in place of Garrett Rockafellow who was injured late in Thursday's practice.

The Warriors clicked on three of eight chances on the power-play while holding Trail off the scoresheet on their four opportunities.

West Kelowna outshot Trail 45-14 over the 60 minutes.

The Warriors get a much deserved day off Saturday before returning to the ice Sunday to prepare for a return engagement with the Smoke Eaters Tuesday.

The same two teams will face off against each other again next Friday night at Royal LePage Place.

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