The West Kelowna Warriors offence has dried up as the team fell to the Penticton Vees by a 3-1 score on Friday night.
Photo courtesy of Wayne Moore from Castanet, more photos will be up shortly:
1) THE OFFENCE
Let’s address the elephant in the room, the Warriors are a young team and if this is when a scoring drought is going to happen, it’s better now than January but the effort is there, just the goals are not. The Warriors worked extra hard to get their one goal tonight, a goal mouth scramble that saw the puck finally will itself across the goal line after a furious battle in front. The Warriors seemingly fired plenty of shots toward the Vees goal tonight but the desired target was missed quite often as a lot of the Warriors attempts on goal were fired wide, making for a long night of only one goal scored.
Hopefully those attempts will find the desired target and more shots will be getting through and on goal. West Kelowna has about three days up until Tuesday to try and iron out some of the kinks before Chilliwack comes to town but hopefully for Warrior fans and the Warriors that the drought is only a short one. There are plenty of promising signs to believe it will be. Veteran guys like Reed Gunville stepping up with a big goal tonight will further those signs as the team moves into a very important week of hockey.
As much as the offence isn’t going right now for the Warriors, the goaltending needs to step up with big games and getting behind by two in the games opening five minutes can be a big mountain to climb up. As head coach Rylan Ferster commented after the game, the opening two goals were likely ones that Xavier Burghardt would like back, especially to try and tone down what was a very aggressive Vees attack to start the hockey game. For most teams, the backbone has to be goaltending and the Warriors will need to have their veteran netminder make some key stops early in games.
Now not to discredit anything that Shane Farkas did tonight, he was outstanding making 29 saves on the 30 shots he faced, including a big save on a Grant Cruikshank breakaway that could’ve really put the game away when it was 3-1 in favour of the Vees. The youngster gave a chance for the Warriors to come back and look for two points but fell just short. It was a veteran-like performance from a 17 year-old first year goaltender in Farkas, who handled the game extremely well.
The Warriors will need a big week next week to make this home stand above .500 but it can still be done. The Warriors played with enough effort to get a victory tonight and will need to carry that along with them through to Tuesday when they host the Chiefs, a team coming off an 8-2 spanking laid down by the Surrey Eagles on Thursday night. I thought the Warriors limited the chances for some of the more potent offensive threats of the Vees like Ty Amonte or Ryley Risling (outside of a laser off the crossbar in the 3rd period). There was no stopping Grant Cruikshank tonight, only containing him. He was by far the best player on the ice for either squad.
The Warriors defensive game has been good and only got bolstered by the return of Scott Allan tonight. It was a good test to get in against such a fast and skilled team like the Vees and I thought everyone handled themselves well on the backend. One more thing that popped out at me tonight was the Peter Tomaras-Jon Russell-Marshall Wilton trio, I called them the depth line for the Warriors tonight and they had an excellent game, spending one shift entirely in the Vees zone in the 2nd period and seemed to give the Warriors a bit of momentum as the period rolled on.
Another big week ahead for the Warriors as a three game week starts on Tuesday night with the defending Mainland Division champion Chilliwack Chiefs roll into town for a 7:00 PM puck drop at RLP. Pre game at 6:50 PM on pay-per-view Fasthockey.com and on the Warriors Internet Network.