War­riors snap los­ing streak, build on back-to-back wins

West­siders erase 3-goal deficit to de­feat the Al­berni Val­ley Bull­dogs

The Daily Courier - - SPORTS -

Wil­lie Reim scored twice as the West Kelowna War­riors stormed back to de­feat the Al­berni Val­ley Bull­dogs 6-5 on Sat­ur­day night at Royal LePage Place in BCHL play.

Wy­att Head, Mike Hard­man, Ben­nett Nor­lin and Lu­cas Cullen also scored for the War­riors, who trailed by three mid­way through the game.

Brock Baier started in goal, but was re­placed when the Bull­dogs made it 5-2 mid­way through the game after mak­ing 30 saves on 35 shots.

Con­nor Hop­kins came on in re­lief and stopped all 16 shots he faced.

Al­berni Val­ley out­shot the War­riors 51-45. It was a sec­ond straight War­riors win after West Kelowna de­feated the Mer­ritt Cen­ten­ni­als 4-3 in over­time on Fri­day, snap­ping a five-game los­ing skid.

On Sat­ur­day, the War­riors got off to a fan­tas­tic start with Reim go­ing to work early.

It was a pass by cap­tain Cavin Til­s­ley through the legs of a Bull­dogs de­fender to Reim, who beat for­mer War­riors goal­tender Cole De­mers to make it 1-0.

Less than a minute later, the Bull­dogs an­swered when Jack­son Doucet tied it 1-1.

The Bull­dogs would con­tinue to pres­sure the War­riors in their own zone and it was Baier’s child­hood best friend from ru­ral On­tario, Mitch Deel­stra, who made a nifty move to beat his for­mer Lis­towel Cy­clones team­mate to make it 2-1. The War­riors needed a push, so Ge­off Grim­wood elected to send out Quin­ton Waitzner, Til­s­ley and Reim, and once again it was Reim who scored to tie the game up at two head­ing into the first in­ter­mis­sion.

The wheels came off for the War­riors in the sec­ond pe­riod. They gave up nu­mer­ous scor­ing chances lead­ing to a trio of goals from the Al­berni Val­ley Bull­dogs. First it was Mitch Deel­stra who crashed the net. Baier made the save, but the puck sat in the crease un­cov­ered al­low­ing the young de­fense­man Aaron Bohlinger to stuff it in and make it 3-2. The War­riors got caught in their own zone again with for­mer Trail Smoke Eaters for­ward Michael Hodge ex­tend­ing the Bull­dogs lead.

Hodge wasn’t done for the Bull­dogs. Less than 4 min­utes later, Hodge fed a wide open Daw­son Tritt for his ninth of the sea­son. That would be the end of Baier’s night and the War­riors would have a steep hill to climb down by three goals late in the sec­ond.

The War­riors would pro­vide some pres­sure in the Bull­dog zone late and it was Head who fired a knuckle puck from the point scor­ing his fifth of the year. Three min­utes later, Head was at it again throw­ing the puck to­wards the net al­low­ing Hard­man to score his 29th of the sea­son and, just like that, the War­riors were only down by one goal go­ing into the sec­ond in­ter­mis­sion.

The War­riors started the third pe­riod with pres­sure in the at­tack­ing zone but couldn’t get any qual­ity scor­ing chances on Cole De­mers.

West Kelowna would later be caught with too many men on the ice putting the Bull­dogs on the power play. Hop­kins was sen­sa­tional be­tween the pipes mak­ing mas­sive stops with traf­fic in front of him keep­ing it a one goal game. Five min­utes later, the War­riors would pounce with a heads-up lead pass from Cullen, spring­ing Ben­nett Nor­lin on a break­away who beat De­mers to tie the game 5-5. The 994 fans in­side Royal LePage Place erupted at that point and all mo­men­tum was on the War­riors side.

Bull­dogs lead­ing scorer Ryan Miotto would take a penalty of his own in the fi­nal five min­utes of the game send­ing the War­riors on the man ad­van­tage, and it was Cullen who was fed a tic tac toe pass from Hard­man and Parm Dhali­wal to give the War­riors the lead for the first time since the first five min­utes of the hockey game. With the help of a cou­ple key stops late by Hop­kins, the War­riors would hold on to win 6-5.

The game was low on de­fence, but clean; the Bull­dogs were 0-for-2 on the power play, and the War­riors were 1-for-2.

WAR­RIORS 4, CENTS 3 (OT)

The West Kelowna War­riors snapped their five-game los­ing streak in dra­matic fash­ion with an over­time vic­tory in Mer­ritt on Fri­day night.

An­drew Vig­gars, Mike Hard­man, Max Bu­lawka and Lu­cas Cullen scored for the War­riors while Con­nor Hop­kins made 36 saves on 39 shots.

West Kelowna led 3-2 after the sec­ond in­ter­mis­sion, but al­lowed the Cen­ten­ni­als to force over­time with less than five min­utes to play.

The ty­ing goal came on a Mer­ritt power play that went 3-for-5.

Hard­man’s goal was unas­sisted and came 2:33 into the ex­tra frame. West Kelowna was 1-for4 with an ex­tra at­tacker and out­shot the Cents 44-39.

It was a dra­matic win for the War­riors against a Mer­ritt team six points ahead of them in the stand­ings.

West Kelowna (24-19-1) is fourth in the BCHL’s In­te­rior Divi­sion.

The War­riors next game is Fri­day night ver­sus the Ver­non Vipers. Puck drop at 7 p.m. at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna.

TAMI QUAN/Spe­cial to The Daily Courier

West Kelowna War­riors Ben­nett Nor­lin, Mike Hard­man and Max Bu­lawka crowd the Al­berni Val­ley net Sat­ur­day at Royal LePage Place.

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