The West Kelowna Warriors got strong showings from their ‘role players’ in a 6-2 victory in Merritt on Saturday night.
One day after a wild and feisty affair between the same clubs at Royal LePage Place ended in a 3-3 tie, the teams sparred for one final time in the regular season. The contest turned into another chippy affair, with ~112 minutes in penalties served to the two clubs, including two fights.
Warrior Reid Simmonds went to the hospital after dislocating a finger in his tilt with Brendan Lamont in the second period, but returned to play in the third.
Shawn Hochhausen also flipped the mitts for the Tribe, but didn’t return after squaring off with Merritt’s Charlie Donlin.
The Warriors would earn three power-play goals (3/9) while Merritt struck once on the power-play (1/9). But it was a second period surge that put the Warriors in front for good, as West Kelowna broke up a 2-2 deadlock with three unanswered goals in the middle frame.
Ambrose Firkus led West Kelowna’s offence with two goals and two assists. Josh Monk chipped in three assists, while Danny Gayle, Brennan Clark, Brent Lashuk, and Matt Anholt also scored.
“Things were just working” Firkus shrugged after the game.
“Josh Monk helped out quite a bit over there” he added, referring to Monk’s assists. “It worked out well tonight, yeah.”
Firkus also admitted that success on special teams will be crucial in the playoffs, as they were in Saturday’s matchup.
“They didn’t really jump on theirs like we jumped on ours” he says, adding “I think that was the difference tonight.”
Diego Cuglietta and Sean Maktaak notched the lone goals for Merritt.
Backup goalie Steven Myland also had a strong showing for the Warriors, stopping 36 of the 38 shots he faced for his fourth win of the year.
Tyler Steel was tagged for all six West K. goals in the defeat.
With the win, the Warriors now sit just one point back of Merritt heading into the final week of the regular season.
West Kelowna concludes the season series against the Centennials with an impressive record of six wins and one tie.
The teams now know they will meet in the first round of the playoffs, with home ice advantage still to be determined.
The Warriors wrap up their 2012-13 regular season next weekend with a road trip that will include stops in Victoria, Cowichan Valley, and Nanaimo.