The West Kelowna Warriors relinquished another two-goal lead on Wednesday night but this game had a different outcome as Parm Dhaliwal just 48 seconds into overtime snapped the Warriors five-game winless stretch with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Vernon Vipers on Wednesday night at Kal Tire Place.
1) QUICK START
The Warriors didn’t waste much time getting their offense rolling on Wednesday night with three goals in the opening 10 minutes and change of the hockey game. The impressive thing about that is that the Warriors didn’t even score three goals in any of their last three games on the road trip, nevermind in just over a half a period. The group looked energized and ready to go right off the opening face-off tonight. Connor Sodergren got a fortuitous bounce off of Vernon defensemen Shane Kelly’s skate as the puck ramped up and past Darion Hanson on the blocker side (one of two banked in shots in the opening period of play). Just 49 seconds after that, Vernon tied the game on a similar bank shot before the Warriors took advantage once again as Mr. 100 added a goal onto his memorable night. Braiden Epp, who picked up an assist on the Sodergren marker for his 100th career BCHL point, busted down the right wing side and slid the puck through the legs of Hanson for a gorgeous goal and more importantly got the Warriors their lead back. Quin Foreman capped off the hot start with his 22nd goal of the season on a drag shot from the right circle that Hanson got a piece of, but not enough and forced Vernon head coach Mark Ferner to call a timeout. The Warriors found their legs early and I think may have surprised the Vipers a bit with their quickness right off the get-go. The Vipers, give them credit, did come back and tie the game, erasing their two-goal deficit and forced the game into overtime where just 48 seconds in, Parm Dhaliwal earned his first career BCHL overtime winner:
2) 💯 WASN’T ENOUGH
First thing is first, I’d like to congratulate Braiden Epp for earning 100 career BCHL points and man, did he have a heck of a night. “Epper” wasn’t going to stop at just one as he paced the Warriors offense with a goal and two assists in the overtime victory, the 6th OT win of the season for the Warriors, good enough for 2nd in the BCHL in that regard. Epp looked explosive on this night, specifically on his goal as he turned on the jets to make a power move to the net to slip the puck by Hanson. His line with Connor Sodergren and Logan Mostat worked well tonight and gave the Warriors offense a boost early in the game. Strong games from the likes of Quin Foreman (1-0-1), Parm Dhaliwal (1-1-2) and Chase Dubois (0-2-2) were noticed as well as the top six in the forward core had a good night for the Warriors. The most impressive thing about Epp’s night was talking to him on Sunday, before his 200th career regular season game, he said he wanted to pick up point #100 that night as well but I think he will settle for that distinction to come in game #201. Adding to the largeness of the night for Epp is the largeness that two points means to the Warriors, sitting along in 4th place in the Interior Division with 48 points and sit just two back of the Trail Smoke Eaters for 3rd place in the division with just 11 games to play, but still plenty of time for maneuvering around a very tight Interior Division.
My takeaways from the Warriors 4-3 overtime victory over the Vernon Vipers on Wednesday night from Kal Tire Place in Vernon is that the offense kicked this game into high gear early and the Warriors pulled some strings and were able to come away with a big two points. A resilient road effort in a tough environment to a team that hasn’t lost much since the month of December but the boys buckled down for a huge road win and a big night for a few Warriors in particular. The Warriors get more good news heading into Friday night’s big tilt with the Merritt Centennials as forwards Chase Stevenson and Cavin Tilsley both return to the lineup as both will be welcomed additions back in the roster with Stevenson missing four games due to a suspension and Tilsley missing nine game with an injury. The puck drops on Friday night from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena at 7 PM with the pre-game show starting at 6:50 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and hockeytv.com. West Kelowna finally returns home to Royal LePage Place on Saturday night with a visit from the Coquitlam Express.