Tyler Briggs and his defenders were all solid as West Kelowna earned a 2-1 victory in Merritt on Saturday night.
Briggs was named the first star and made upwards of 40 saves for the second time this year in Merritt, allowing the Warriors to withstand a third period Centennials onslaught and escape with a massive win.
The victory moves West Kelowna to within five points of Merritt in the race for second in the BCHL’s Interior Conference. The Warriors have also won all five matchups against the Centennials so far this year.
“We knew it was going to be a close game, and it was” laughed Warriors forward Marcus Basara afterwards.
Basara’s powerplay goal midway through the second period would hold up as the winner – his sixth PPG of the year. Basara’s bid eluded Merritt netminder Tyler Steel with Seb Lloyd providing a screen in front.
“He’s a good goalie” admits Basara of Tyler Steel. “We obviously knew we had to get pucks on him and get to the net … and I feel like we did a good job on that tonight.
Mitch Nardi scored West Kelowna’s other goal, beating Steel early in the second period.
Brent Fletcher potted Merritt’s lone tally on a short-handed breakaway in the opening frame.
Tyler Briggs would stand tall the rest of the way, stopping 19 shots in the third period alone and 43 overall.
“Obviously outstanding” Basara concluded of Briggs’ performance. “In the third period he stood on his head and it was great to see him steal us a game. “I thought it was a good effort from everyone tonight” he added.
Basara’s goal would hold up as his fifth game-winner of the season, though he admits games in Merritt aren’t his bread-and-butter.
“When you go into a rink like this, you’re not going to go in and do a bunch of skilled stuff” the speedy forward knows. “They work hard, and we work hard too” he stresses.
The Warriors and Centennials will meet twice more this season – with a home-and-home series set for next weekend. Moreover, a first-round playoff matchup between the clubs is becoming increasingly more likely as the season draws to a close.
“It’s not going to be a pretty game when we come here” Basara pledges. Still, the 19 year-old insists his team is ready to adapt the way it did on Saturday if the clubs do end up meeting in the playoffs. “We’re just going to have to work hard and not take nights off.”