The West Kelowna Warriors made a late comeback effort but ultimately fell short in a 3-2 loss to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place.
Game photo from tonight provided by Wayne Moore of Castanet:
1) TWO GOOD PERIODS, ONE NOT SO GOOD
The Warriors had two pretty good periods on Saturday night against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in their 3-2 loss at Royal LePage Place, unfortunately, it was the one poorly played period that cost them in the defeat. Despite trailing in the opening period of the game, I liked the way the Warriors came out in the opening 20 minutes of play as they got a good chance to score just 31 seconds into game off a drop pass from RJ Murphy in the slot for Michael Lombardi, who was all around the net tonight but just couldn’t score, but the puck got caught up in his skates and his shot was gobbled up by Silverbacks netminder Kyle Dumba. The opening 10 minutes saw the Warriors play with some pretty good pace and skated well along with the Silverbacks doing the same and creating a good flow to the beginning of the game before the Silverbacks found the back of the net off of the skate of Justin Wilson. A bit of a fortunate bounce for the visitors but I thought the Warriors responded well to get some quality chances in the period but Dumba turned aside all the 13 shots he faced in the period. The 2nd period is where the wheels fell off for the Warriors as the Silverbacks controlled most of the frame, outshooting the Warriors 18-13 in the frame but hemming the Warriors into their own zone for most of the frame and territorially taking advantage of the game along with scoring twice. It was a big difference from what the team played like in the opening period and was the eventual downfall of their game but again, credit to Salmon Arm for competing for a full 60 minutes (more on that in our 2nd thought). The 3rd period was where you expected the Warriors to give a push and it took until later in the period but they did come with a pair of goals, 1:03 apart, and almost tied the game. Lombardi hit a crossbar in the beginning stages of the period before Dhaliwal and Marino struck for goals just over a minute apart and made it 3-2. To be honest, I thought the Warriors were going to tie the game in the final moments but couldn’t find the tying goal, including a last second chance for Jared Marino from the slot that was blocked by Julian Timba into the corner to finish out the game.
2) A TOUGH OPPONENT
Often times, we look at what the Warriors didn’t do in a game that they have dropped but I have to say that I was impressed with the effort that the Silverbacks put forth in this game. Starting from the crease out, Salmon Arm played a complete 60 minute effort and earned their third win in a row as they came out with energy and can fly through the neutral zone. Despite not finding the scoresheet, Rhett Kingston had a very good game as he moved his feet well and created plenty of good chances for the Silverbacks on this night. The line that did all the scoring (Justin Wilson, Nick Unruh and Grayson Constable) were excellent on the night and might have been Salmon Arm’s best line in the game. The ‘Backs played hard through the full 60 minutes and certainly did not play to their 18-23-1-3 record as I thought they played a very strong road game. Austin Chorney anchored a good performance from the blue liners before the team turned to goaltender Kyle Dumba and his 34 saves to get the win. I thought both goalies were on their game tonight with Cole Demers making 35 saves on 38 shots and giving the Warriors a strong start in between the pipes for a second straight night after Nik Amundrud did so in Trail on Friday. Dumba looked very solid as he made many key stops, especially in the 1st and 3rd periods, and helped the Silverbacks out when they had troubles inside of their own zone, which seemed like a bit of the opening period where the Warriors came with some waves of pressure but the 19-year-old crease keeper held his team in it. I don’t think by any means the Warriors played a “bad game” on Saturday night but the Silverbacks were not going to be outworked as they put in a 60 minute effort en route to the road victory.
3) MY TAKEAWAYS
My takeaways from the Warriors 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place are that the Warriors had a lapse in their game in the middle stanza and unfortunately, if you take a period off in this league, you’ll likely get burnt and that’s what happened to The Tribe on Saturday. Again, full marks to Salmon Arm for competing hard and deserving the victory but the Warriors just couldn’t find a way to get the tying goal late after making a great effort to come back and get the game within a goal. I liked the Warriors effort in goal again tonight as Cole Demers battled hard in the Warriors crease with his 35 saves while I thought Mike Lombardi certainly deserved to break out of his four-game goal scoring slump but came up just short. Parm Dhaliwal was another positive for the Warriors as he looks to be getting into the form that we saw him in before he was injured in late November and missed 10 games. Salmon Arm is a hard working team and the Warriors were able to match that work level for 60 minutes on Saturday night with a loss on home ice. There are certainly some positives to take out of the game from Saturday as I think the 1st and 3rd periods were pretty good from West Kelowna but falling short in the 2nd frame was a tough pill to swallow for the Warriors as they will look to get back on track on Tuesday when they welcome in another hard working the Coquitlam Express.
The Warriors continue on their four-game home stand when they host the Coquitlam Express on Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place. It’s another night of cheap beer and wings as draft beer is half price and chicken wings are on for 25 cents. Tickets are available online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office one hour ahead of the opening puck drop.