The West Kelowna Warriors thrilled a packed house at Royal LePage Place with a huge 3-2 overtime victory against the Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday night!
Game photos provided by the always excellent Ken Reid of Greystoke Photography. He captured some great shots from last night, including the Stevenson winner in overtime. Check out more of his work with his FACEBOOK PAGE and his WEBSITE
1) GAME. OF. THE. YEAR
I don’t think it’s even a question that Saturday night’s game against the Grizzlies, even if the Warriors had lost, would be crowned the game of the year. It was fantastic. Between the play on the ice, the atmosphere provided by the packed house at RLP and a game that went 64 minutes, it was an unforgettable night to be apart of. The Warriors got the crowd on it’s feet early thanks to a gorgeous tic-tac-toe passing play started by Quin Foreman, handing off to Connor Sodergren and finished by Chase Stevenson to bring the 1,325 fans in RLP to their feet and applaud a highlight reel goal. The Warriors continued their strong jump to the game, a great response after a tough game in Penticton on Friday, as Jon Russell doubled the score banging in a loose puck from the top of the crease through the legs of Tony Rehm to double the Warriors lead. Gabriel Morency was outstanding in the game on his first period save might be considered the save of the year as he robbed Nathan Looysen in front of the goal with a gigantic left pad stop. Something you have to see to believe:
The Grizzlies came back to tie the game with two 1st period goals from Cole Pickup and Lucas Clark that made the game 2-2 and the score would remain that way through period number two and three as Victoria especially pressed with 15 third period shots but Morency was the difference as he stood tall after allowing a goal he would like back on the Clark marker back in the 1st period. The Grizzlies got a bit undisciplined as the game came down to it’s final moments with a penalty with 1:33 to go in regulation but the Warriors were unable to capitalize as the game slid into overtime, and a treat for fans that this excellent game went past the 60 minute regulation time. Grizzlies captain Cody Van Lierop was called for goaltender interference as he tried to drive the goal on a break and knocked into Morency to give the Warriors another power play and this one they converted on with a big scramble in front of Rehm and the West-K kid Stevenson was the hero:
2) 4 REGULAR D = NO PROBLEM
The Warriors were without two of their top defensemen in the likes of Scott Allan and captain Nicholas Rutigliano on Saturday night while also missing the likes of Tyler Jutting but that seemed to be no issue as the Warriors backend gutted out a big effort as everyone played a big part in the victory on the defensive side of the puck. The forwards of the Warriors did an excellent job of backchecking and making sure they were responsible in their own zone while the likes of a Stephen Kleysen, who was understandably exhausted after the game, was an absolute horse on the blue line for West Kelowna in the game. Every defensemen did an great job of holding a team that scores a lot of goals and can outskate anyone in the league to just two goals in this game, where credit also have to be given to the man in the blue paint. The way Gabriel Morency rebounded from a rough 2nd goal against was outstanding as he kept the game tied and every save from then on out as he stopped 40 shots for his 5th win of the season. In my eyes, he made at least four, if not more, big stops en route to his first star performance and the Warriors 27th win of the season and especially after how the game on Friday was for the Warriors, it was excellent to see the effort from Morency and everyone in a Warrior jersey on Saturday night to finish the week of three games with two wins.
My takeaways from the Warriors 3-2 overtime victory against the Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday night is that everyone dug deep and gave every bit of energy they had to come together for a solid team victory in one of the best, and most entertaining, game of the season. With the point in the overtime loss, the Grizzlies clinched the Island Division pennant for the third time in five seasons and I’d like to congratulate head coach Craig Didmon and his staff, players, and everyone within the Grizzlies organization on the achievement, a deserving one for a team that has played some excellent hockey over the course of the season and will now carry home ice through the first two rounds of the BCHL playoffs.
I want to send out one more shoutout and this goes to the 1,325 fans that came out last night to watch the Warriors and Grizzlies play that left no one going home unhappy. The atmosphere was fantastic and was like the Warriors were back in the league finals and playoffs again. It’s those kinds of atmospheres that make those games fun for everyone involved and I hope it’s just the tip of the iceberg for crowds down the stretch for the Warriors heading into the playoffs. The boys thrive off of the energy in the building and last night was special with everyone coming out and supporting the 8th annual Warriors Faith Night that made Warriors chaplain Pastor Don Richmond proud. West Kelowna completes their regular season home schedule with a game against the Penticton Vees on Tuesday night at RLP. Cheap tickets, cheap beer, and it’s a rivalry night. No reason not to head down to RLP and catch the Warriors one last time before the playoffs. After all, we saw what an amazing crowd does and the evidence is from Saturday night.