Warriors explode out of the gate

Travis Blanleil fights Trail's Adam Boytinck on Friday night. Photo by Randy Emery

That’s a pretty good way to open the season.

The Warriors clicked offensively and played strong 2-way hockey in a 7-3 victory in Trail on opening night of the 2011-12 BCHL season.

After a fairly even first period, Westside exploded in the second and quickly renewed the bitter taste lingering in the mouths of the Smoke Eaters after three years of playoff defeats.

Tyler Krause opened the scoring 3:15 into the second when he clapped home a nice feed from rookie Seb Lloyd.  While it’s just one night, Lloyd showed that he sees the ice very well.  If he can translate the offensive success he had in Midget to Junior, he and Krause could make life difficult for opposing goalies – as they did on this night.

A powerplay goal from Trail soon after (fired home by Brandon Egli after some awesome work from Dallas Calvin) evened the score, but the Warriors soon began to pull away.

9:41 into the second, Dru Morrison beat Matt Larose on a quick break to put Westside back in front. 48 seconds later Brennan Clark notched his first BCHL tally on a nice move to the backhand.   Soon after, an Izaak Berglund point shot found its way past Larose on a Westside powerplay.  Who scored this one?  Well I’m still not sure.  But (as you can hear below), Krause is “90 per cent sure” it hit his stick.  The goal was awarded to Seb Lloyd (his first) but could be changed pending review.  Reid Simmonds added to Larose’s misery when he converted a goal-mouth scramble with 7 seconds remaining in the frame.  Score after 40 minutes? – 5-1 Westside.

The Smoke Eaters really needed a strong response to start the third, and for a while they really had one.  Early in the frame Clayton Chessa got things going for the home team.  Then Kyle Horsman pounded one past Steve Racine to get Trail within 2.

Were the Smokies coming back?  Well, it seemed like they might be.  All the momentum was Trail’s.  Warriors coach Rylan Ferster got ejected for arguing one of Grant Tyson’s calls (a line-change, I believe.  And I think it was fair enough.  Tyson blew his whistle about 7 times.  Then gave Ferster a bench minor.  Then Tyson blew his whistle about 10 more times.  Then he finally lost his patience and tossed Ferster out).

The thing is, however, it was poor discipline from Trail that really curbed any comeback that might have been.  It began with a questionable hit by Logan Proulx.  Proulx got 2 minutes for boarding.  Not the end of the world.  But then, down a man, rookie Adam Wheeldon made a very clean hit on Michael King, followed by an ill-timed, dangerous, and silly hit-from-behind on Brayden Sherbinin while trying to kill the penalty.  The Warriors were up two men and took full advantage.  Krause scored his second of the game on the ensuing man advantage.  He got his hat-trick on another PP a few minutes later, and the Warriors would cruise from there to a 7-3 victory.

According to Krause, it was the first hat-trick of his career.   The Kelowna native was playing his first meaningful game since his knee injury in the playoffs last year, and announced his return with style.  Click here to listen to my post-game interview with Tyler Krause.

As for the numbers, they look pretty good for Westside.  The Warriors go 3 for 5 on the powerplay, while Trail goes 1 for 6.  Shots on goal have now been adjusted to 38-26 Westside.

Once again, I don’t have much to say about Westside’s goaltending.   Steve Racine was good, and looked very collected in the WW net.  Enough said.  More importantly, I thought the Warriors had a very strong 2-way game.  Trail had probably 3-4 odd-man rushes at most.  The Warriors defended their own zone well, and I’m of the opinion that it all started with smart offense and highly effective forechecking.   All four lines looked pretty good at both ends of the ice, and they seem to be playing some smart, systematic hockey right off the get-go.

So all in all, I’d say it’s a great way to start the season.  Things did get a little rough in this one (as you might expect,given the history and the occasion).  There were two fights (Berglund against Chessa and then Blanleil against Boytinck) and plenty of scrums and battles.  And we have to wait no more than 24 hours until the rematch.

Saturday night.  Same time, same channel.  Catch the broadcast on Saturday at the usual link.

Tyler Krause battles with Nick Wong in front of Matt Larose. Photo by Randy Emery

P.S.  On a personal note, it was pretty cool to return to my old stomping grounds in Trail.  I want to say a particular thank-you to Randy Emery, who always fed me killer photos in my Trail days, and gave me 10 more gems tonight.  Just for me.  Randy – you are a beauty.

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