It’s one heck of a character win for West Kelowna.
Missing seven key contributors, the Warriors somehow found the energy to claw back from a third period deficit to post a 5-3 win in Surrey.
West Kelowna looked terrific in the first period, and spent a lot of time in Surrey’s zone. Jordan Masters broke the ice when he tipped in a Matt Anholt bid midway through the frame. After taking a couple of penalties that were effectively killed off by his teammates, Anholt then redeemed himself by shovelling home a Jason Cotton feed to make it 2-0 WK.
The Eagles began to play better late in the first and got a huge goal from Kale Bennett when his point shot snuck through everything and past Cody Porter.
Surrey forced the issue in the second period, and it looked like the Warriors may have just hit the wall. Austin Ferguson levelled the score when he wheeled up the wing and wristed one past the glove of Porter. The champs struck again a minute later on a heavy one-timer from Brett Mulcahy, on one of the few defensive gaffes of the night for West K.
Down 3-2 heading to the third, things really did look grim for the Tribe. To make matters worse, Ryan Ivey joined the legion of injured Warriors when he blocked a shot with his hand and couldn’t continue.
But the Warriors dug deep and turned it on in the third, while the Eagles really struggled to get the puck out of their own zone. Surrey also got into penalty trouble, and (finally) the Warriors came through in spades on the powerplay.
Taylor Graham (who had a terrific weekend) scored his first BCHL goal on a PP rebound six minutes in. Tyson Dallman notched another PPG at the 12:30 mark giving the Warriors a shock lead. West Kelowna continued to lock it down defensively, and the second of the night from Dallman (on a lovely passing play with Anholt and Simmonds) was all the insurance the visitors would need.
While a few guys stepped up offensively and the powerplay came through, there can be no doubt that this was a ‘team’ win. The Warriors bought-in big-time in their own zone, allowing just 26 shots all game and very few scoring chances (even on the big ice). The Birds only had five shots in the third period and never really did threaten Porter all that much.
As for Porter, the 16 year-old probably wants the Ferguson goal back, but he was rock solid all game long and really battled during a few scrambles in the crease. More to the point, he gave them everything they needed to win, and I’d say he was probably better than the guy at the other end.
And if I were to single out one player, it would be Tyson Dallman. The two goals are obviously clutch, but ‘Dolly’ was outstanding on and off the puck even-strength, on the PP, and on the PK. But young and fit as they may be, this was a tough hockey weekend, so everyone got used in this game. Braxton Bilous put in a full shift on the back end and seemed in fine form. Michael Winnitoy stayed out of trouble on the back end. Anholt double-shifted regularly with Duhaime and Andrusiak. It’s too bad the video wasn’t working better, ‘cuz it was a sight to see.
The Warriors now have a week off to recuperate and see who they can get back in the lineup. We’ll see who comes back from Canada West try-outs and who makes that team, while Carl Hesler suggested in the broadcast that he might be good next weekend. Andy Desautels’ upper-body injury probably won’t keep him out for more than a week or two, and Ryan Ivey might check right back in as well. Blackburn is a week or two. And there’s only one game next weekend (home vs. Trail).
So, while the adversity is no-where near over, the Warriors can feel good about what they’ve accomplished and look forward to a beefier lineup and some home cooking over the next few weeks.
And as a reward for their valour, the Warriors are back in first in the Interior Division.