The West Kelowna Warriors earned another big 4-1 win on Saturday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena as they defeated the Merritt Centennials and swept the home-and-home set.
1) ALL AROUND GOOD EFFORT…AGAIN
For the 2nd straight night, the Warriors got a fantastic team effort en route to their 20th win of the season and their 7th in the last eight games. After an early goal could’ve derailed any team, especially playing on the road in a tough building like NVMA, the Warriors regrouped and got two big first period goals. Despite not scoring in his first 19 BCHL contests, Chase Stevenson has tallied in back-to-back games and tied the game tonight with a nice play at the backdoor stemming off a great feed from Parm Dhaliwal. Jake Harrison got in on the action later in the period for his 4th goal of the season an all started with a beauty passing play by both Dhaliwal and Chase Dubois. Here’s a look at the eventual game winner:
Connor Sodergren had himself a weekend as he potted not just four goals, but four third period goals that gave the Warriors a comfortable cushion in the 3rd period on their way to the three-goal victory. Sodergren scored shorthanded, against the league’s best power play mind you, and added an empty net goal with help from his friend Quin Foreman and now sits at 16 goals on the season, doubling the amount of goals he had a year ago. The UMass-Lowell commit has played a big part of the Warriors success of late, and all season, whether it comes to scoring timely goals or big face-off wins and key penalty kills.
2) HEATING UP IN THE COLD OF WINTER
The Warriors have won seven of their last eight games and have a six-point gap (still not much but certainly noteworthy) between them and last place Salmon Arm in the Interior Division. With the two wins over the weekend over the Cents, the Warriors hold a four-point advantage over Merritt and sit just one point back of the Trail Smoke Eaters with three games in hand. This year’s Warriors have done something even the RBC Cup Champion Warriors couldn’t do and that is beat the Centennials. With the win on Saturday, the Warriors are 4-1 against their rivals from Merritt this season and have won the season series over the Cents with two more games to play in February between the two, which that number of wins versus the Cents could come in handy when it comes to potential tie-breaking scenarios down the stretch. Okay, I’m getting a bit ahead of myself but you never know with these kinds of things and the Warriors have done themselves a favour with their strong play as of late and against the Cents this season.
Speaking of heating up, how about the defense and goaltending of the Warriors over the past eight game stretch? I know that there has been two different goalies, starting with Shane Farkas and now giving way to Cole Demers, who again was excellent in his 2nd victory as a Warrior (and if not for Powell River scoring 22 goals in two games this weekend, may have been considered for player of the week in the BCHL) and the defense has played their part as well, especially tonight in Merritt it seemed as things happen quickly and pucks come bounding off of boards everywhere, but they were alert and aware of their surroundings and kept the Cents to just one goal for a second straight night. This team could be peaking at the right time and face a very good Penticton team on Wednesday and will be a good measuring stick for where the Warriors are at right now.
My takeaways from a second straight 4-1 victory for the Warriors over the Merritt Centennials, this time at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, is that the Warriors are rolling with 7 wins in their last 8 games and have, potentially, found an answer in the crease with Cole Demers on his toes for another outstanding night with 34 saves and now has 72 saves on 74 shots in a Warriors uniform. Connor “Clutch” Sodergren continued his scoring of two goals in the final period for back-to-back games and the Warriors PK came up in a huge way against a team that ranks first in PP percentage in the BCHL, going 3/3 tonight did the PK with a shorthanded goal thrown in the mix as well.
West-K returns to action on Wednesday night for their first trip of the season to the South Okanagan Events Centre to face-off against the Penticton Vees for a 7:00 PM puck drop. We’ll be on the air as usual at 6:50 PM with the pre-game show. A big thank you to everyone who stayed up late with us to listen in (or watch) with a later start time and I’d tune in for what should be a good test for the Warriors on Wednesday night in Penticton.