The Warriors will head into their home opener on a winning streak.
Westside disposed of the Silverbacks with a dramatic 3-2 victory in Salmon Arm on Wednesday night. The win didn’t come easy though, and I’d say that both teams worked really hard in this one.
After a strong first 10 minutes from the Tribe, the ‘Backs really found their game and started to look like the team we came to know last year.
The Apes opened the scoring on a wonderful first period counterattack that came on the heels of some great pressure from Westside’s top line. Once they got possession of the puck, the Apes’ top line flew into Westside territory, with the puck eventually finding its way to Sean Flanigan who beat Steve Racine far-side.
The Warriors got onto the scoreboard early in the second when Richard Vanderhoek banged in a Connor Dempsey centring pass. Just three games into the season, and I caught myself saying ‘Vanderhoek finally scores.’ I’m sure the former Eagle feels the same way, but we all knew it was only a matter of time.
Westside continued to press, and it seemed like we might be looking at a replay of the second periods in Trail. But credit the Silverbacks for regrouping and battling back. Just 50 seconds after the Vanderhoek marker, Kyle Oleniuk converted a Brock Balson rebound to retake the lead for the Gorillas.
Overall, the second period was a little scrambly, and at times the puck was really bouncing around. But we also saw a lot of the hard work I mentioned, and some solid hits by both teams.
And so, trailing 2-1 heading into the third, the Warriors knew they needed to dig deep, and they began to really pressure the Silverbacks end. Shots in the third were 20-5 Westside, but it took a 5-on-3 to get back on an even footing. With both Mak Barden and Brett Knowles in the box, Tyler Krause fed a gift to Connor Dempsey, who got his third goal of the year from within 5 feet.
The crowd began to get a little upset with the refs in the third, and at times I could see their beef. There were a couple of borderline hits made by Warrriors that went uncalled. But, there were also a few penalties by Silverbacks that easily could have been flagged, and I really don’t think the guys in stripes determined the outcome of the game. In fact, I would suggest that Westside was the much better team in the third period, and could have won the game by 3-4 goals if not for some very solid goaltending by Kurt Williams. The ‘Backs netminder made 2 different 5-alarm saves in the third, and overall was credited with 45 stops on the night. Without question, Williams gave his team a chance to win, and you really can’t blame him on any of the 3 that got past him.
The winning goal came late for Westside – very late. With 30 seconds left, Peter MacIntosh head-manned the puck to Brett McKinnon, who cut into the slot, faked a shot, and then fired it home. It seemed like the fake may have frozen Williams, who was also screened by Shawn Hochhausen. I think the puck may also have gone off something before trickling over the goal line. It was a heart-breaking end for Williams and the Silverbacks, but a gutsy win for Westside.
And in all, I think the Warriors were full value for the win. It wasn’t pretty, but the team battled very hard, overcame a deficit, and outshot their hosts by a mile. Westside also blocked a ton of shots on the night (as did Salmon Arm), and MacIntosh’s assist on the winner was only a small part of why he was chosen as the third star – his shot blocking and defensive play is always outstanding, and deserves much more recognition than it gets.
As far as the WW goaltending goes, Steve Racine looked strong again for his part. The WW goalie made 25 saves, and doesn’t seem to want Brandon Lane to get his turn…
After the game I spoke to Peter MacIntosh. Click here to listen to that interview.
I also spoke with Brett McKinnon. Click here for that one.
And so, the Warriors now finally get to head home – and their 3-0 record will only make the Home Opener more exciting.
And really, this promises to be quite the event. There will be a tailgate party with a BBQ and live music from ‘John Stamos and the Full House Band’. There will be firefighters on hand for the ceremonial puck-drop – and they’re bringing their truck. There will be all kinds of free stuff being given out. K96 and the Juice will both be live on location. The hot-tub raffle begins. And fans could even win $50,o00.
Oh yeah, and it’s against the defending champ Vernon Vipers, who will come in sporting a 2-0 record. I would recommend you don’t miss this one.