The West Kelowna Warriors fell late tonight in Coquitlam tonight as they were on the wrong end of a 3-2 score line at the Poirier Sports & Leisure Centre.
Game photos from tonight’s game are provided by Damon James of the BCHL:
1) CAN’T BUY A BREAK
Again, the Warriors just cannot buy themselves any kinds of breaks while being marred in a five-game winless stretch. Tonight is the perfect example of that. The team played well enough to earn two points tonight, but again, ran into a hot goaltender (which seems to be the theme of the last two weeks) and gave up the winning goal with 16 seconds to go in the game, which was destined for overtime. What did someone do to make the hockey gods this angry at the Warriors? The game’s winning goal was an unfortunate one for the visitors as Stephen Kleysen was going off for a change at the Warrior bench when the puck came his way and not wanting to take a penalty, let it go but an en rushing Blake Heyward found the loose biscuit and buried a shot through the five hole of Xavier Burghardt.
With the Express celebrating in the corner and looking at the Warriors bench defeated, I wondered, what will it take for this team to win a game? The effort has been there, the scoring (not so much tonight but in general) has been there, but the wins have just eluded the defending national champions. Add into the equation that every single night of pumping 40+ shots on goal can’t get a W and it makes for a frustrating time as it seems every goalie the Warriors lock up against is having a career night, like tonight. Reid Cooper, who has done this in the past, was outstanding tonight, making big save after big save as the Warriors outshot the Express by a 38-22 margin, only to see their record drop to 5-7-0-1. Something has to give soon, doesn’t it?
The Warriors are trying to find consistency in their game right now as another low scoring affair went the way of their opponents. West Kelowna scored eight times in two games last weekend against the Silverbacks but could only find the back of the net twice tonight against the team that has given up the 2nd most goals in the BCHL. Now mind you, Reid Cooper stood on his head tonight for the Express to earn a big victory but the Warrior offence had chances to capitalize and didn’t. The power play had it’s moments, earning Parm Dhaliwal his first BCHL goal in the process, but when it really needed to come through, like at the end of the game where the PP failed to generate anything and spent most of the time in their own zone, just couldn’t and it results in another tough loss.
Now obviously the PP wasn’t the only issue tonight as the team was a bit sloppy in their own zone (not to mention possible the worst ice I’ve seen in along time as every puck was bouncing and hopping off of sticks). It was a frustrating night to watch this team get oh so close to scoring but just not being able to finish and bury on their chances. It’s just time for all the aspects of the Warriors game to come together at once and find a way to get two points, which the Warriors are hoping will come on Saturday night.
It was nice to see Parm get his first BCHL goal on the board and Braiden Epp get rewarded with his father in the crowd tonight as the team played well enough to get a victory, but just need to put all the pieces together. Matthew Campese made his Warrior debut tonight, playing mostly on a line with Connor Sodergren and Epp. I thought he played well and was given enough minutes to make something happen and earned an assist on the Epp third period marker. The trio I liked the best tonight was Quin Foreman-Dhaliwal-Reed Gunville. They were buzzing all night and I thought for sure they were going to combine for at least one goal, but just couldn’t beat Reid Cooper in the Coquitlam goal.
The road doesn’t get much easier for the Warriors as they welcome in an 11-2-0-0 hockey club in the Penticton Vees on Saturday night at RLP. The Warriors may benefit from a Vees team that’ll be in Merritt against the Centennials on Friday night as the Warriors have the night off, but we will wait and see on that subject. Puck drop is 7:00 PM in West Kelowna or if you can’t make it, catch the action live on pay-per-view at hockeytv.com or listen on the Warriors Internet Network.