Marcus Basara had a four point night and the West Kelowna Warriors got goals from six different players in a 6-1 victory over the visiting Merritt Centennials Friday at Royal LePage Place.
The win gives the Warriors the all important first game in the best-of-seven Interior Division semi-final series.
Basara was in on the first four Warriors goals scoring once and setting up three others, picking up where he left off during the regular season.
Basara led all Warriors forwards during the seven game regular season series with the Centennials with six goals and an assist.
"Me and my line have good chemistry against these guys. We've sort of found ways to score," says Basara of his success against the Centennials this season.
"Whether it's just taking the puck to the net or stopping up, we just find a way to get the puck down low and cycle them. We kind of use our speed to create chances for ourselves."
Josh Monk, Matt Anholt with what turned out to be the game winner, Max French, Brennan Clark and Ambrose Firkus also scored for the Warriors.
Adam Plant and Shawn Hochhausen each chipped in with a pair of assists.
Diego Cuglietta ruined Tyler Briggs' bid for a shutout with the lone Merritt goal with just 29 seconds left in the game. The goal appeared to deflect off a high stick before beating Briggs, however, the officials allowed the goal to stand.
Along with accounting for four of the Warriors six goals, the top line of Basara, French and Seb Lloyd were also tasked with playing against the top Merritt trio all night.
"Rylan talked to us before the game and gave us a challenge to play against their top line. He thought that would kind of free us up offensively but also to just be strong defensively," says Basara.
"He gave us the challenge, we accepted it and I thought we played well against a good line tonight."
They held Regan Soquila, Sean Maktaak and Derek Huisman off the scoresheet the entire night.
The Warriors led 2-0 after one and stretched the lead to three after 40 minutes before running away with it in the third.
Despite the lopsided score, Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster was not totally happy with
"I thought our goalie made some really good stops. I didn't think our game was as tight as it could have been," says Ferster.
"I think we just got some timely goals. It was one of those games where we maybe score on some of our chances but I thought they had some grade A chances that our goalie had to bail us out on."
Briggs faced 36 shots and made spectacular glove saves off Cuglietta in the first and Dane Birks in the second the keep the Centennials at bay.
He made another huge save off Scott Patterson early in the third just moments after Basara had given the Warriors a 4-0 lead.
The game was physical but not quite as feisty as some of the regular season affairs between the two teams.
Leading up to the series, Merritt coach Luke Pierce was quoted in the Merritt Herald as saying the series would be 'an alley fight.'
"I don't know if it was a war out there tonight. I thought both teams played hard. I thought some games in the year were a lot more feisty than that one tonight," says Ferster.
"We're just going to regroup and try to get ready for game two."
Pierce didn't get an opportunity to see first hand whether there was any nastiness near the end of the game. He was handed a game ejection early in the third period for something he said to the officials.
Two Warriors, defenceman Ben Tegtmeyer and David Pope also failed to finish the game.
Both left with what Ferster described as upper body injuries. Both are listed as day-to-day.
Game two in the series goes Saturday night at Royal LePage Place before shifting to Merritt for games three and four Monday and Tuesday.
Should a fifth game be needed it would be played back at RLP next Thursday.