The West Kelowna Warriors couldn’t muster much offense in a 4-1 loss to their Interior Division rivals in the Penticton Vees on Tuesday night from Royal LePage Place.
Game photos provided by the always excited Ken Reid of Greystoke Photography:
1) NO SPARK
Tuesday night was a bit of an oddball of a game from the Warriors and Vees and lacked the usual intensity and emotion that we have come accustomed to over the past few years. The building didn’t have the same vibe to it as it did on Saturday night against Wenatchee and the play wasn’t quite a fluid and free-flowing as we saw on the weekend either. It was a very tight checking, grind it out kind of style displayed by both sides, with the exception of about 5-10 minutes in the 2nd period. The first period was a complete feeling out process and didn’t see much happen, with very limited scoring chances for both sides. The second frame opened up a bit, resulting in a tally for each side and made for a bit of entertainment. The third period was silenced by two early Vees goals and really not much of an attack from the Warriors afterwards, again giving credit to Penticton’s defensive game. I was somewhat surprised to look up at the shot clock after the game and see the Warriors with 36, mind you I think a bit of the steamed from having the goalie pulled in the final two minutes of play in the 3rd where the Warriors mustered on 16 shots in the period and showed their most offensive surge of the hockey game.
The usual games between these two (like the game on October 22nd, a 6-3 win for the Vees) display lots of emotion and spark but tonight had a different feel. The energy in RLP felt a bit down, considering the amount we saw on Friday and Saturday of last week. Can’t credit the Vees enough for coming into the building and executing their game plan to perfection, not really giving the Warriors a glimpse of an opportunity to get back in the game when down 3-1 in the third. But, as a moral victory for the Warriors, to hang with the best team in the BCHL for two periods and be tied after each the first and second is a pretty good feat, one not many teams in this league can have the pleasure of saying they’ve done. But for the most part, somewhat of a weird and listless night from West Kelowna, in this broadcaster’s opinion.
2) A TOUGH STRETCH AHEAD
As if this week didn’t start hard enough for the Warriors, this is their first game in a span of four games in five nights, a crazy part of their schedule that is very important in the standings. Three games at home (which the Warriors came away victorious in two of the contests) and three on the road (which I believe they will again need two of three wins to keep tight within the division race) is a tough stretch of hockey for any team, nevermind shoving that into 8 days and playing tough teams along the way. Tuesday night showed why the Vees are top in the league, although I don’t think they played their best hockey by any stretch, but they score at the most opportune times and hold leads like no ones business. The Warriors have been very good at clawing from behind and fighting their way back into games and as mentioned before, held tight with the Vees for 40 minutes but the final 20 did them in.
The Warriors top line of Quin Foreman-Connor Sodergren-Matthew Campese was held in check tonight by some very good defending courtesy of Gabe Bast and Griffin Mendel, for the majority of the evening. There were a couple of opportunities in the 2nd period as West Kelowna had a pair of 2-on-1’s, both starting with Blake Coffey, but his shot attempts failed to give up any big rebounds where Robson steered them out of harms way. Robson was very good with keeping rebounds near him or playing them into the corners, but puck handling, on the other hand, was an issue for him and his defense tonight as twice he coughed the puck up and gave the Warrior forecheckers something to think about.
My takeaways from tonight were that the Warriors played a solid forty minutes of hockey to keep themselves tied with the league’s best, but when it came to crunchtime, the Vees just out-Veed their opponent. It’s not just the Warriors, the Vees have this ability to get crucial goals at crucial times. Look what happened on Saturday night with 20 seconds to go against Merritt, and then eventually in overtime. Tuesday night’s game was a bit sloppy and just lacked the energy and emotion that these two teams usually thrive off of. There was only 4 total penalties in the game, that’s it. That’s like a record for when these two teams play. The Warrior PP had to be better on Tuesday, I don’t think they generated one good scoring chance on any of their three attempts. But I hate to keep going back to this fact but on Saturday night, when the building was buzzing, the Warriors thrived off of that momentum. Tuesday night, not much juice in the building left (outside of the Vees fans who made the trip down to cheer their team on) the Warriors a bit listless at times. Defensive hockey was on display at RLP on Tuesday but at least the Warriors know they can hang with the best, even if it is for 40 minutes,
West Kelowna hits the old “iron lung” and heads out on the road for four straight games starting on Thursday night. The team travels to Surrey to take on the Surrey Eagles with puck drop at (note the start time) 6:30 PM which means the pre-game show starts up at 6:20 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and hockeytv,com. This is the first of three on the Mainland for the club as they play in Langley on Friday and Wenatchee on Saturday.