The West Kelowna Warriors earned their 18th victory of the season in what might have been the game of the year as RJ Murphy scored with just 0.3 seconds remaining in overtime for a 3-2 victory against the Penticton Vees on Friday night at Royal LePage Place on Teddy Bear Toss Night.
Game photos tonight provided by Julie Pringle of Snap Photography:
1) WHAT. A. GAME.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words and boy, oh boy that photo of the score clock at the end of the night could certainly save me some lost sleep writing this blog tonight. That was the most entertaining game of the season as the Warriors defeated the Penticton Vees by a 3-2 score in overtime on Teddy Bear Toss night. The game was fast paced, high energy and felt like a playoff like atmosphere up until the final goal horn of the night, which RJ Murphy set off with just 0.3 seconds remaining on the clock. It might have been the game of the year in the BC Hockey League as these two teams matched up so well and combined for an extremely rousing night of hockey at RLP. It was kicked off by Chase Dubois’ snipe over the blocker side of Adam Scheel on a 3-on-2 rush that sent many furry friends in attendance over the boards and onto the ice to give the Warriors a 1-0 advantage. The Vees countered with a tally from captain Owen Sillinger, who I thought was the best Vee that wasn’t named Adam Scheel on Friday night, as the Vees captain fired a wrister from the left circle up and over the blocker side of Cole Demers and tied the game heading into the 1st intermission, a period in which I thought the Warriors had the upper hand in over 20 minutes. The same could be said for the 2nd frame as the Warriors looked strong through the middle stanza and were rewarded with Mike Lombardi pouncing on a rebound off a Tyler Jutting shot and gave The Tribe a 2-1 lead heading into period #3. Just like a heavyweight title fight, the teams traded chances and traded blows in the 3rd frame before it was Sillinger again who got the Vees into a 2-2 draw with a spinning backhand shot from the circle and beat Demers on the glove side for a tie game and some free hockey to those in attendance (minus their bears). The OT period saw the Warriors outshoot the Vees by an 8-1 margin, including a power play that yielded 7 of those shots, before RJ Murphy burst down the left wing i the dying seconds of the frame and slid a puck through the legs of Scheel on a net front drive that gave the Warriors an overtime win and one heck of a hockey game for those in attendance and watching at home on either Shaw TV Okanagan or HockeyTV.
2) ANOTHER HARD WORKING EFFORT
I’ve said many times on this blog before that it’s not often you’ll find that the Warriors didn’t compete hard enough or were outworked and tonight that certainly wasn’t the case. I thought the Warriors controlled stretches of this game and looked really good tonight and we’re finally rewarded for a hard working effort that has seen them playing better hockey than what the record has shown over the last few weeks. I thought it was rewarding to see the effort being cashed in with another big overtime win against an Interior Division opponent and now have the chance to close out the pre-Christmas schedule with back-to-back wins when the Warriors entertain the Powell River Kings on Sunday. On another night of just 9 forwards (which seems to be the norm for this team right now), everyone brought their game and dug in and played a solid 60 minutes. I really liked the look of the “Stars and Stripes” line tonight of Willie Reim, Murphy and Lombardi. The Barrington, Rhode Island native Lombardi impressed the most as he was all over the ice on the night and picked up a big goal in the 2nd period to get the game in the Warriors favour. I believe, after some scoring corrections, RJ Murphy should have himself and three-point night and deservingly so as the Warriors forward was great tonight with a strong power move to the net to end the game in overtime. Lucas Cullen and Chase Dubois had strong games up front for West Kelowna, as well as 16-year-old Max Bulawka while Jake Harrison might have been one of the best players on the ice. “Harry” threw a massive hit on Ocean Wiesblatt in the 2nd period and was a spark plug for the Warriors throughout the entire game. Cole Demers was the best Warrior on the night as he made 34 saves on 36 shots and was given first star. Not as busy as his counterpart, Adam Scheel, Demers made some monster stops including a pair of big saves on the penalty kill late in the 3rd period on Owen Sillinger and a save on a Dakota Boutin breakaway in the 2nd frame, while also turning aside the follow up try from Ryan Sandelin. Demers was confident and collecting inside his crease tonight and helped the Warriors to a huge win on Friday night.
3) MY TAKEAWAYS
My takeaways from the Warriors 3-2 overtime victory over the Penticton Vees on Friday night at Royal LePage Place on Teddy Bear Toss night was that this game was just damn good. If you missed it or couldn’t make it to RLP, I feel bad for you because that’s about as heart-pounding and exciting entertainment you’ll get for $15. Both teams played up and down the ice and traded chances and played pretty solid games but I thought the Warriors had the edge in that department. If it weren’t for the robbery of Adam Scheel, this game could have been a whole lot different. The Vees netminder made 49 saves on the 52 shots he faced and was, at times, the only reason the Vees were in the game. He continues to be a brick wall over the course of his rookie season in the BCHL and makes some of the hardest saves look so casual. He’s a pleasure to watch and was on top of his game on Friday night but the Warriors were able to get three past him for a big win on home ice. That might be the most unfortunate thing about Friday is it marks the end of the season series between these two rivals (which is crazy to think since 2017 isn’t even over yet). These two teams combine for such an entertaining brand of hockey and had the arena buzzing all night long until Mr. Murphy blew the roof off of RLP with just 3 10’s of a second left.
I’d like to thank Shaw TV, as well as my colour commentator Tim Hogg, for coming on and doing the game on Friday night. It was a lot of fun to experience a different side of broadcasting that I’ve never had before and certainly seemed to be a hit from those who watched. Excellent crew to work with and look forward to some potential other games in the future.
The Warriors close out their pre-Christmas break schedule with a matchup against the Island Division’s Powell River Kings on Stuff The Bus night at RLP. Fans are encouraged to bring a nonperishable food item to game and be entered in a draw to win a seasons ticket for the 2018/19 season. It’s also the final Skate with the Warriors in 2017 with a 2:30 PM puck drop on Sunday afternoon. Tickets are available at online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office ahead of the opening face-off.