The West Kelowna Warriors find themselves fighting for their playoff lives after a 4-0 shutout loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters on Monday night in Game #3 of their best-of-seven Interior Division Quarter Final from Royal LePage Place.
Game photos provided by Julie Pringle of Snap Photography:
1) A MATTER OF BOUNCES
The Warriors will have their backs against the wall in Game #4 on Tuesday night in the potential final game of the series as they fell by a 4-0 score on Monday night in Game #3. The Warriors and Smoke Eaters traded chances throughout the majority of the night with Trail being just one bounce ahead of West Kelowna all night long. I know this is going to sound homerish in a 4-0 game but this really could’ve gone either way with Trail getting a couple of bounces that the Warriors could not get. Take, for example, the first (and eventual game winning) goal of the game off the stick of Troy Ring. A harmless shot from the half boards just outside of the right face-off circle found it’s way to the back of the net after going off of a couple of bodies in front of the goal and past the glove side of Nik Amundrud. A very unfortunate break in a game that saw both teams going back-and-forth with chances in the opening 15 minutes of the game. The second bad break in the game for West Kelowna happened just before the second goal of the game with under five minutes remaining in the 2nd period. Jared Marino made a strong rush through the middle of the ice and from just inside the blueline let go of a shot that was kicked out by the left pad of Adam Marcoux with the rebound spurting to the right circle for Marino to chase down and swatted the loose puck through the legs of Marcoux but just past the post with the Smoke Eaters carrying the puck the other way before Andre Ghantous was hooked up by Garrett Ewert to give Trail a power play. Just six seconds into the man advantage, Connor Welsh’s left point shot was redirected in off the left thigh of Tyler Ghirardosi to give Trail a 2-0 lead and another instance of where the bounces just didn’t go the Warriors way on this night. The Warriors played a pretty good game on Monday night, as did the Smoke Eaters, but it was the visiting team that came away with the hometown bounces.
2) SHORTHANDED NIGHT
The officiating took a wonderful turn on Monday as both Bronson Tazalaar and Nick Panter did a great job of allowing the game to play out and putting the whistles away but it wasn’t the special teams that the Warriors were short handed in. West Kelowna lost two of their better defensemen in the 1st period on Monday night as Jake Harrison took an awkward hit into the end boards and was slow to get back up to his feet inside the Smoke Eaters zone. Harrison had to be helped off the ice and did make a return on the Warriors bench at the beginning of the 2nd period but didn’t make it out on the ice for the remainder of the game and will be looked at on Tuesday in hopes of playing Game #4 and not much is going to keep “Harry” out of a game as he is one of the toughest players I have seen. The next bad piece of news for the Warriors was the absence of Tyler Jutting, who left in the 1st period after a few shifts and then was out of the game and did not make a return, putting the Warriors in a tough bind with 4 regular defensemen. That hurt the Warriors in a big way having to play their defense in such a big capacity but, in saying that, the D that did remain in the game for the Warriors were real good. Cody Paivarinta had his best night as a Warrior as he was strong on the puck and tough to play against inside of his own zone. Wyatt Head also had a strong night with some elevated minutes along with Garrett Ewert eating up some minutes with his play. Even Jordan Todd got in on the act as the forward shifted to defense for some shifts throughout the final 40 minutes of the game and held his own well. I’m not sure what the status of either Jutting or Harrison will be for Game #3 but the Warriors, who are already with Stephen Kleysen, will need to use each and every little bit of strength they have to try and get the series back to Trail.
3) MY TAKEAWAYS
My takeaways from the Warriors 4-0 shutout loss to the Smoke Eaters in Game #3 of their Interior Division Quarter Final is that West Kelowna will have to dig deep in order to get back in this series but credit the Smoke Eaters as they have been the best team in three games of the series. I thought the Warriors game was pretty good on Monday night but will need to look at shooting more, especially on the man advantage. With Harrison and Jutting leaving early (along with Ryan Steele being suspended for three games, it was tough to get anything going offensively. The shots just weren’t there and with some of the rebounds that laid loose around the crease of Marcoux, there were definitely opportunities to be had. To add to that point about not having enough shots, they’re best chance came of the stick of captain and birthday boy Jared Marino, who had a pretty good night himself. The Warriors will need to dig deep on Tuesday if they plan to have their playoffs stay alive. The Warriors did a lot of good things on Monday night and will now be playing win-or-die kind of hockey.
The Warriors will have their backs against the wall as they host the Smoke Eaters in Game #4 of their best-of-seven Interior Division Quarter Final looking to keep their season alive down three games to none in the series. Tickets are available online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office ahead of the opening face-off.