The West Kelowna Warriors comeback bid falls short on Tuesday night as a tough 2nd period handed the club a 4-3 loss against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in a big Interior Division match-up.
Game photo from tonight provided by Wayne Moore of Castanet:
1) THE COMEBACK
The Warriors valiant comeback effort fell short on Tuesday night despite two third period goals but a sloppy 2nd frame and some uncharacteristic goals against for Nik Amundrud left the Warriors with no points in a big divisional matchup. The Warriors hadn’t scored a third period goal since Quin Foreman tallied a late one against the Langley Rivermen two Fridays ago on the Lower Mainland, a span of three games. The building seemed to get a bit of a buzz when Braiden Epp tallied just past the midway mark of the 3rd period and again was buzzing in the final minute on a goal from Michael Ryan, but could’ve used some of that energy in the 2nd period and most certainly the beginning of the 3rd frame. Give credit to the Warriors, a scrappy bunch that have shown numerous times this season that they can come back and make the game interesting, but just haven’t been able to get the game equalized at the right time.
Now how did we get to the point the Warriors needed to comeback, especially after a very strong opening period, is tough. West Kelowna, in my opinion, dominated the frame and the shot clock displayed that with a 17-9 shot advantage and were all over the ‘Backs. But what came afterwards was a bit disappointing as the 2nd period was rather listless from the group, coming out with 10 shots to Salmon Arm’s 19 and the ‘Backs spending the majority of the frame with the puck (mind you four 2nd period PP’s helps that quite a bit, some calls maybe a bit more questionable than others). But I think the one that stuck out for me the most was the beginning of the 3rd period where the Warriors were caught behind their goal and Justin Wilson banked the puck in off a Warrior in front before catching Nik Amundrud napping on the 4th goal, a very odd goal to watch. It looked like the shot kind of surprised the Warrior netminder when it went between his legs and in, most certainly a goal he would like back and unfortunate that in the end of it all, that is the game winning goal. It was a game in which the mistakes were preventable for the Warriors and that’s what may make this game most frustrating to look back and watch upon as this is game that the Warriors really could’ve used in the standings and now sit in last place in the Interior Division.
2) MOMENTUM SHIFTS
Momentum is a funny thing and Tuesday night sure felt like a pendulum when it came to who had momentum and at what time. The Warriors first period was one of the better ones I have seen them play, despite only one goal but a lot of credit has to be given to Salmon Arm netminder Nic Tallarico who turned away 40 shots on 43 attempts in his 3rd straight start for the ‘Backs. But Stephen Kleysen’s beauty of wrist shot, which can be found below, was the only thing the Warriors got past Tallarico in a 17 shot opening frame that saw them all over their opposition:
The 2nd period saw the Silverbacks take the momentum away with a goal 45 seconds into period number two and pile on 19 shots in the frame and tally two goals. A nice glove side shot by Jared Turcotte, which really Amundrud could not do anything about and another shot in which Nathan Iannone literally chopped the puck from the slot on the blocker side after a face-off win for the ‘Backs and an unfortunate hop. Then came the two goals in the 3rd period to give the ‘Backs more momentum before the pendulum shifted once again and went in the Warriors favour with two goals in the final 10 minutes to make the final moments of the game a tense time, including a 5-on-3 for over a minute with over 5 minutes to play in the 3rd in which the Warriors came up empty handed. It’s a funny game hockey is, and some nights things go in your favour and others don’t and Tuesday night saw the ‘Backs take their 4th win over West-K in five meetings this season.
My takeaways from the game were that the Warriors needed more of the energy they had in the opening period and at the end of the game to translate to the 2nd period and the early portion of the 3rd period, where things were a bit sluggish at times for the home side. This team also needs to buck up against their own division as the Interior has feasted on the Warriors so far this season as West-K holds a 5-11-0-1 record against the teams in their division so far this season. That’s just 11 points out of a possible 33. That won’t do, especially when the teams battling for spots in the playoffs are in the same division, and that’s the only way to get out of the division is to beat the teams within. The battle doesn’t get any easier as a team the Warriors have had trouble with historically come into town in the Merritt Centennials on Friday night to begin a home-and-home. West Kelowna and Merritt have only played once this season with the Cents taking a 5-1 decision at RLP and another two big games coming up for West-K. Puck drop is 7:00 PM with the pre-game starting at 6:50 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and hockeytv.com.