The West Kelowna Warriors had the lead, lost the lead, tied the game but eventually fell by a 7-6 score in overtime to the Wenatchee Wild on Wednesday night at Royal LePage Place.
Game photo from Wednesday night provided by Wayne Moore of Castanet along with Tami Quan Photography:
1) WELL THAT WAS… WILD
It’s a game that featured just about everything and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. The Warriors had outplayed the Wild through two periods and held a 4-2 lead before the oddest 3rd period of the season with the Wild coming from behind, scoring four times before the Warriors came back and scored twice in 35 seconds to tie the game with Matt Dorsey ended the game 3:49 into the extra frame and finish off what was a (wait for it) wild affair. Heading into the 3rd period with a 4-2 lead, the Warriors have been one of the most airtight teams when leading after 40 minutes with a 22-0-0-0 record in that category before Wenatchee scored four goals in the opening 12 minutes of the period. Only Penticton and Nanaimo have been better when holding a lead this season after 40 but the Wild were able to break through and tie the game before eventually taking the lead and then adding one more goal from the captain AJ Vanderbeck to get a 6-4 lead. You’ve got to give this Warriors team credit as they do not quit, no matter what the situation is and were able to write their own comeback story late in the 3rd period with under two minutes remaining. Parm Dhaliwal jammed in a loose puck at the front of the goal on a rebound before Michael Ryan slid the puck along the ice through the legs of Wenatchee goaltender Seth Eisele to tie the game with goals at 18:15 and 18:40, coming just 35 seconds apart and getting the game into overtime. The Warriors did have a power play chance in the extra frame with the best opportunity coming off of a pair of RJ Murphy shots, coming down the left wing to drive to the net with Eisele making the stop before Jared Marino provided a solid screen in front of Eisele with Murphy’s slot shot being blocked before getting to the goal. Matt Dorsey would end the game on a terrific pass from the left point by Zac Galambos down low to Dorsey in the slot as he went to his forehand and in to end the game in the favour of the Wild and cap off a truly Wild night of hockey.
2) SPECIAL TEAMS FACTOR
I mentioned it in my “3 Keys” blog pre-game and it turned out to be one of, if not, the biggest factor in the game and might have been the biggest reason the Wild were able to come back in this one. Taking all the special teams out of the game, the Warriors would have come out on top by a 4-2 score but unfortunately, hockey just doesn’t work that way. I thought the Warriors were certainly the better team 5-on-5 but the Wild flexed their muscle on the power play along with a big Lucas Sowder shorthanded goal to tie the game at 4-4 at the 4:44 mark of the 3rd period. The Wild can certainly zip the puck around on the man advantage and did a very good job of that tonight with three power play markers including that shorthanded goal and have now vaulted up to the top spot in the BCHL in power play percentage at 22.8%. Cooper Zech was a big part of the Wenatchee power play with two of his three assists on the night coming on the power play as well as both of Sam Morton’s goal being PPG’s. The Warriors were no slouches on their power play as well as Dhaliwal deflected in a perfect pass from Chase Dubois while the Warriors captain Marino found the back of the net from the slot but it was the Wild who were the better special teams team on this night and earned the victory because of it. 5-on-5 these two teams were flying and making plays with lots of speed and skilled players from both sides but the Wild were the ones to get the better of the Warriors in the special teams department and that was the difference in the game, or at least one of the biggest differences.
3) MY TAKEAWAYS
My takeaways from the Warriors 7-6 loss in overtime to the Wenatchee Wild on Wednesday night at RLP was that the Warriors played a very solid 40 minutes, a start of the 3rd period to forget before tying the game late but then falling in overtime, just your average Wednesday night of hockey. Honestly, this was a pretty fun game to call with both teams so skilled and having the ability to make plays. Ryan Steele had himself a night as he scored twice and added three assists for a five-point night and now sits just five points off of his total from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in 22 fewer games. His linemates, Parm Dhaliwal and Chase Dubois, have been outstanding as well as they have turned into the Warriors top line with Dhaliwal earning two goals on the night and Dubois collecting four assists. I also liked the look of a line that had plenty of success early in the season as Jared Marino-Cavin Tilsley-Bennett Norlin came together for a strong night with Norlin earning a couple of chances to score in behind the Wenatchee defense but Eisele shut the door on both occasions. It wasn’t a great night for either goaltender as both Eisele and Amundrud struggled (although I liked Nik’s game through the first 40 minutes) in a high scoring affair between two teams that can score a few goals. A very exciting game to watch as a fan, a game to rip your hair out for coaches and one for the Warriors where they collect a point and will hope for a Salmon Arm victory on Thursday night when they head to Merritt to face-off against the Centennials before the Warriors and Cents meet in Merritt on Friday for a game of significant meaning.
The Warriors head out on the road for their final two games of the regular season as they begin their final weekend with a trip to the Nicola Valley to face-off against the Merritt Centennials for a 7:00 PM puck drop. The game can be heard on the Warriors Internet Network and also streamed live on HockeyTV.com beginning at 6:45 PM with the pre-game show.