The West Kelowna Warriors couldn’t strike on any of their 10 power plays but played well 5-on-5 and picked up a league-best 10th win with a 5-2 victory over the Langley Rivermen on Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place.
Game photos from tonight provided by Julie Pringle of Snap Photography:
1) A PENALTY BOX PARTY
I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a game quite like the one on Tuesday night between the Warriors and Rivermen. A total of 10 power plays for the Warriors were unscored on, including a couple of lengthy 5-on-3’s, while Langley went 0/5 when up a man. I wrote about special teams before the puck dropped but I didn’t expect it to go in this direction with the Langley penalty kill being so dominant, not really allowing for many chances or good looks for the Warriors on the man advantage. The thing was, the Warriors penalty kill did the exact same thing. And one of the craziest stats for me tonight is that despite over half of the game being played with at least one player in the penalty box, every goal came while at even strength (mind you the Rivermen first goal happened a second or two after the PP expired but nonetheless). The game even got so crazy with penalties that Rivermen head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson was thrown out of the game in the 3rd period with about 10 minutes to play after the Warriors were heading onto their second 5-on-3 of the night. It was a bit all over the place trying to keep track of which team was shorthanded and who got what penalty and when (which makes me happy not to be a scorekeeper on this night) but one thing is for sure: the Warriors were the better team when playing at 5-on-5. The Warriors displayed good speed and skill throughout the entire night and limited a Langley attack to only 24 shots in the game with only 12 of those coming in the final two periods. On a night without one of their minute eating defenders in Tyler Jutting, the Warriors d-core did an excellent job at keeping the big, skilled Langley forwards to the outside and not getting a whole heck of a lot through to the net.
2) SPREAD OUT SCORING
You won’t be seeing much of just one line carrying the mail in the scoring department this season and that’s not a bad thing whatsoever. The Warriors may not have a scorer in the Top 20 of the BCHL scoring race but for this team, the scoring by committee attack has worked out very well thus far and saw four different goal scorers emerge on Tuesday night. It was nice to see Chase Dubois have a good game as the Warrior forward scored a pair of goals, including a breakaway goal in the 2nd period just moments after RJ Murphy tied the game at one. Dubois really had his legs going, drawing a penalty in the first period and was flying around the ice on Tuesday, As mentioned, RJ Murphy continued on his strong start to the season with his 5th goal of the year as he found the loose puck in a scramble and calmly deposited it into the back of the net. Jared Marino had been goalless in two games after scoring in three straight and got the eventual game winner tonight after some great work from his linemates to get the puck in deep and control from the goalline downward to get Marino his 6th of the season, and the team lead, with a nice little flick into the top half of the net. Peter Tomaras also found the back of the net with an empty netter which meant every line found twine on Tuesday night and that’s always the sign of a good night. The Warriors scoring attack, although sometimes not scoring very many, seems to be very balanced this season and echoing a comment made from Warriors head coach and general manager Rylan Ferster said pre game in our interview “We’re tough for any team to match up against because we don’t have one particular line that scores all our goals.” A good description of this Warriors team that rang true on Tuesday night.
3) MY TAKEAWAYS
My takeaways from the Warriors 5-2 victory over the Langley Rivermen on Tuesday night at RLP is that this team is starting to settle in and get comfortable with each other and have been playing some great hockey out of the shoot to start the season. With the logjam that is the Interior Division, these cross-divisional games mean so much to collect as many points as you can because you never know how your own division is going to treat you and the Warriors won a 5-1 record when playing outside of their own division, pretty good record. Another quick stat for you, West Kelowna is 10-0 when leading after two periods of play this season, so a one-goal lead heading into the 3rd period was great to see with how good the Warriors have been in the game’s final frame. I thought the defense tonight was great and guys like Stephen Kleysen had monster nights filling in the shoes of Jutting, Garrett Ewert impressed me tonight, along with Nathan Reilly who picked up his first career BCHL point on a pass to Dubois for the breakaway goal. Up front, the captain Marino led the charge as he was so good down low in protecting the puck and giving that line an opportunity to cycle and be effective in creating space and open areas to get to in the offensive zone. Obviously the power play did not click in any way shape or form on Tuesday but the PK looked strong again, going from 91% to 92% on the season and overall a good win for a team wrapping up a 3 game in 6 day stretch of hockey.
The Warriors take on the Cowichan Valley Capitals in their return to action on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place to wrap up their four-game home stand. If you can’t make it to the rink, we’ll have the call for you on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com beginning with the pre-game at 6:45 PM with puck drop slated for 7:00 PM.