The West Kelowna Warriors gave up three shorthanded goals, and a power play marker, as special teams was the key in a 4-2 loss to the Penticton Vees at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Wednesday night.
Game photos from tonight come courtesy of Cherie Morgan of Cherie Morgan Photography. She does great work for the Vees and I’m grateful to get plenty of photos from her. Check out her Facebook page HERE for more of her work:
1) POWER OUTAGE
I really don’t like scrutinizing special teams play but tonight, and really over the last few games, it has to be done. Not with the penalty kill, which went 4/5 on this night but when up a man, it was a completely different story. The Warriors allowed THREE (?!?!) shorthanded goals on Wednesday night in Penticton which was one of, if not the biggest, reason they were downed. 5-on-5 play was very even, in fact I’d even give an edge to the Warriors when it came to even strength play, but as soon as West Kelowna got a power play, any momentum they gained was drained. There was nothing going on with the power play, not even a chance where it came close to resulting in a goal. The best chances that were had on the Warriors power play were created by the opposing team while shorthanded. Don’t get me wrong, the Vees had to work for those chances but the Warriors power play needs to find some spark, and quickly, to avoid what happened tonight to happen on any other given night. The power play for the Warriors is now 1 for 26 over the last 7 games and is 0 for it’s last 20 tries. Not so good numbers to report on the man advantage.
The biggest opportunity the Warriors had in this game was at the end, when they had battled back in a tough environment, on the road, to get within a goal and have the Vees take back-to-back penalties, resulting in a 6-on-3 with the goaltender pulled. The Warriors got two shots off before a pass from Chase Stevenson, intended for Jake Harrison, was knocked out of the air by Owen Sillinger, who had a breakaway on the empty net and sealed the deal for the Vees. It felt, at least in the Warriors wing of the broadcast booth, that West-K could complete the comeback and tie the game, getting it to overtime, but a knocked down pass ended that thought and the Warriors left the building with no points. A tough loss to say the least for the Warriors, who gave it their all until the bitter end, but fitting that the game ends with a shorthanded goal and the Warriors power play left searching for answers.
2) THE COMEBACK
I know that was a little harsh but the positives in this game were the Warriors almost completing a third period comeback in what I believe is the toughest building to play in in the BCHL. Down by three, the goal by Stevenson gave the bench some uplift before the Sodergren marker really gave the belief that they could do it, ultimately falling short of that mark but an impressive feat nonetheless. Give credit to the Vees, who piled on a big 2nd period by scoring three goals and taking advantage of their chances with the odd man rushes stemming from the penalty kill, a PK that won’t see many nights like they did on Wednesday. But Penticton played hard and won the most important battle of the night, the special teams battle that gave them the victory. I was very impressed with the Warriors push in the 3rd period and made me a believer of a comeback chance. It was one of the most interesting and entertaining games of the season and one that will be hard to top when these two teams meet up again at the SOEC later in January on the 21st.
Chase Stevenson, who took 19 BCHL games to get his first goal, and Connor Sodergren, with his last 5 goals coming in the third period, both have tallied in three straight games for the Warriors and have found their scoring touch as of late. Out of the now 17 goals Sodergren has this season, 10 have come in the 3rd period or overtime, which is a crazy stat and should probably get the name of “Clutch Connor” from now on. The Warriors had a couple of good looks before the late power play chances and came close to tying the game, but couldn’t beat the 20-year-old Mat Robson for a third time on the night. If this game had been played more at 5-on-5, I think the Warriors would’ve had a really good chance at leaving Penticton with two points. But the play of Robson, plus an ice cold power play, left the Warriors empty handed on this night, heading into a big weekend of games against both Surrey and Cowichan Valley.
My takeaways from the Warriors 4-2 loss in Penticton to the Vees on Wednesday night is that the power play was more of a bad omen than a good one on this night and despite a valiant comeback effort in the game’s final period, the Warriors could’ve used one power play goal on this night to try and get the game to overtime. But nonetheless, something to be proud of to comeback the way the Warriors did in the third period, when the Vees were down to really four defensemen with an AP dressed and James Miller leaving in the 2nd period and not returning after blocking a pass with his hand. I don’t want to make it sound like this was all on the Warriors as the Vees played a good game and have to be given credit for the victory but you just feel, at least from the Warriors side of things, this is one that may have slipped away.
In case anyone was looking for an explanation of the BCHL Trade Deadline that took place on Tuesday, that is included in my pre game interview with Warriors head coach and GM Rylan Ferster. The Warriors return to action on Friday night at Royal LePage Place as they will entertain the Surrey Eagles to complete their season series. As always, we’ll have the call on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV starting at 6:50 PM with the pre-game show followed by a 7:00 PM puck drop.