The West Kelowna Warriors bounced back, in a big way, with a 4-2 victory over the Prince George Spruce Kings on Saturday night at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena.
1) NOW THAT’S A BOUNCE BACK
The Warriors needed to have a bounce back effort after the dubbing that was on Friday night and they got exactly that on the long trip to Prince George to take on the Spruce Kings. The Warriors beared down and got a big effort from all 20 players that hit the ice on Saturday and came out with an effort that was certainly worthy of two points and snapping a seven-game winless stretch. The first period was a bit of a saw off as both teams were in a bit of a feeling out process, which I think benefited the Warriors due to the long bus trip and travelling all day. The Warriors actually got the RMCA at 6:20 PM because of highway issues, which is why puck drop was delayed until 7:15 PM, in case anyone was curious about that start time. The Warriors didn’t let the short warm up time get to them and once the puck was dropped, it was just like any other game. But back to the first period of play, one in which I think it was PG’s best period of the game and was also Cole Demers best frame of the game, making 13 saves in the opening period of play. The 2nd period was, in a lot of ways, like the 1st period except the Warriors had better pressure for the majority of the period with Evan DeBrouwer standing tall in the Spruce Kings goal before Michael Ryan broke the goose egg before three goals in a span of 3:58 to begin the 3rd period, which blends nicely into my next key but what’s so impressive to me is the ability the Warriors had tonight to just get off the bus, change and get to playing, and didn’t look bad at all in the victory. The Warriors were able to grit one out up north and earned a big two points to close out a four-game week that saw them with points in three of those four contests.
2) QUICK STRIKE OFFENCE
So often this season, the Warriors have seemed to string goals together. It’s like when you score one, the Warriors come right back and get more quick strike offence. Tonight, was no different. There wasn’t much going on offensively in this game through 40 minutes but the 3rd period saw a five-goal explosion with three of the five being the Warriors markers. RJ Murphy kicked it off just 29 seconds into the frame on a wraparound with what I thought was a careless penalty by Liam Watson-Brawn as he speared Chase Stevenson behind the play and was assessed a double minor penalty coming moments later. Willie Reim made the Spruce Kings pay just moments later at the 1:48 mark on the man advantage to put the Warriors up 3-0 with Jared Marino scoring exactly two minutes after that on a shot from the right face-off circle and capped off a sequence of three goals in 3:29. The Warriors have been so good at carrying momentum this season and stockpiling goals when they need to and were explosive in this game in the 3rd period that helped them to the 4-2 win. With the tight defensive game that had been going on through the first 37 minutes of play, it looked like Michael Ryan’s goal in the final three minutes of the 2nd period would maybe be enough but the Warriors did a great job with their quick strike offence to give Cole Demers and the Warriors defence some breathing room and good enough for their 15th win of the season.
3) MY TAKEAWAYS
My takeaways from the Warriors 4-2 victory over the Prince George Spruce Kings from the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena on Saturday night was that the Warriors bounced back in a big way after a tough loss on Friday night at home to Penticton and in a game where they needed to pick up some points and avoid an “0-for” weekend, the Warriors did just that. I thought the Warriors were very good in their own zone, especially up against the top line of Prince George in Ethan de Jong, Ben Poisson and Ben Brar, who weren’t really factors in the game much at all over the course of this game. The Warriors were able to minimize the opportunities of that top unit when were in the offensive zone and when shots did get through, Cole Demers stood tall with 29 saves on 31 shots, including a big first period that saw him make 13 saves. Offensively, the Murphy-Reim-Mike Lombardi trio was the Warriors best for a 2nd straight night. Plenty to like on that line with all three having a nact for the back of the net while Reim and Murphy provide big bodies who are hard to take off the puck from below the goal line and the hard working, skill forward in Lombardi can find the soft spots in the defence to try and get the Warriors some goals. Cavin Tilsley, the former Spruce King, had a strong night along with linemate and captain Jared Marino. This is a strong performance in a regular standard but considering the travel the Warriors had to overcome and not getting to the rink until 6:20 PM and only having about 25 minutes to get stretched and ready for warm up, this was an extremely impressive effort from West Kelowna.
The Warriors will return to action on Friday night when they host the Merritt Centennials for the 2nd time this season at RLP and the 3rd time in the season series as it kicks off the Warriors Parent’s Weekend. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with tickets available at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the door ahead of puck drop.