The West Kelowna Warriors swept their annual “Parent’s Weekend” with a massive 4-2 victory against the Wenatchee Wild on Saturday night.
Game photos tonight provided by Ken Reid of Greystoke Photography, also with one from Wayne Moore of Castanet:
1) WHERE TO BEGIN?
If you missed Saturday night’s affair between the two cross-border rivals, well you missed one heck of a hockey game with a lot of moving pieces to it. What to get to first? Nik Amundrud making 45 saves in his BCHL debut? The Warriors penalty kill coming up with 9 big kills in a hotly contested affair? 3 Warrior goals in a short span of 1:58? Cavin Tilsley becoming a new fan favourite while dropping the gloves in the 2nd period? Or only throwing 15 shots on goal and finding a way to beat one of the best teams in the BCHL? Well, let’s start with the man they call “Ammer”. He was, for a lack of a better term, “stupidly good” on Saturday night. I mean really, he didn’t play a regular season game this season with Calgary in the WHL due to an injury and made 45 saves for a win in his first game with West-K (I know the boxscore says 49 shots for Wenatchee but 45 is the number I saw)? That’s insane. But he did it, and he looked calm and collected in his crease tonight, making every save look effortless and stoned a team that scored 119 goals, by and far the most in the BCHL. They say first impressions are everything and I couldn’t think of a better one than what Amundrud did tonight.
Now, I’m not one to harp on officiating, but what happened Saturday was a bit out of control. I’d say that out of the nine penalties the Warriors received on Saturday, maybe 3 or 4 of them were warranted. The Warriors were penalized FIVE times in the first period alone, which is crazy and eventually had to trot their PK units out nine times over the night. But the recently struggling PK stood tall and looked invincible with the likes of Jared Marino, Jordan Todd, Scott Allan, Nick Rutigliano and others making a key presence when down a man. The offense came alive for three goals in 1:58 thanks to Quin Foreman, Blake Coffey and Chase Dubois. Cavin Tilsley had a pretty good scrap with Jimmy O’Brien that brought the loud and energetic crowd of 1026 to their feet. Only throwing 15 shots on goal is never exactly the game plan to success but the Warriors made their shots count and took out one of the most skilled, fast and dynamic teams in the BCHL.
2) 60 MINUTES OF EXCITEMENT
All in favour of the neighbours to the South to move into the Interior Division? I certainly am. That was about as entertaining of a hockey game as I have seen in a while, despite the fact that almost one entire period was played shorthanded for the Warriors. 5-on-5 between these two was fast and very fun to watch and I’m extremely excited about the rematch these two have in a week’s time down in the USA. But it’s almost like these two have seen each other time and time again and it’s a shame that they only play twice in a season. It was also one of the most boisterous crowds I’ve heard at RLP and it was a fun atmosphere to be apart of on Saturday night. The building was buzzing right off the hop and it never tammed down as the Warriors and Wild put on an impressive show.
The Wild are about the most skilled team I’ve seen this year, yes I believe more skilled than Penticton, though it’s a close call. Wenatchee is fast (players like Brendan Harris and Troy Conzo might be the fastest in the league) and the Warriors have a lot to be proud of beating a team like this. One area of concern would have to be goaltending as Garrett Nieto did not look good at all tonight, going 3/6 and pulled for the 2nd straight night. Anthony Yamnitsky made 8 saves on 9 shots and the goal that beat him (Matt Campese low circle shot) maybe should’ve been stopped as well. But credit the Warriors for firing on whatever they could toward the Wenatchee goal and finding the chinks in the armour to give themselves back-to-back wins against two very good hockey teams.
My takeaways from Saturday night’s 4-2 win over the Wenatchee Wild are that this team came out and played one their best, most inspired games of the season and in my mind, it should be Parent’s Weekend every weekend around RLP. Stellar goaltending, a great effort from the back end and solid offense from the start of the 2nd period pushed West Kelowna to their 11th victory of the season and remain in 5th place in the BCHL’s Interior Division, but sit just two points back of second place in the division. The Warriors upped their level of play and if it weren’t for some very unfortunate officiating, the 5-on-5 play in this game would’ve been great to watch and the Warriors were able to stick with the speedy Wild and even get a few chances of their own.
I also want to take this time to thank the families (both of immediate and billet nature) of all the players for coming out and making this weekend even more fantastic. The Warriors held a get together for all the players families after the game and it was great to see everyone get together and hang out and have fun. These players wouldn’t be here without the countless sacrifices made by all the parents out there and it was fantastic to meet up with some of you this weekend and I hope to get the chance to do it again in the near future. I also appreciate all the kind words about our broadcasts and the content we put out, it means so much to hear what you all think and I’m glad everyone can enjoy it. It was a weekend filled with fun and excitement and four points helps as well.
The Warriors return to action on Tuesday night when they face another stiff test in the Penticton Vees for the third time this season. The puck drops at 7:00 PM from Royal LePage Place and we have the pre-game show at 6:50 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and hockeytv.com.