The Warriors got a dream start on Tuesday, but couldn’t keep the mojo going.
And as they do, the Vees found a way to win.
Jordan Masters, David Pope, and Seb Lloyd were flying early in this game, but the whole Warriors squad was on red-alert. They threw bodies, hemmed the Vees in their zone, and earned the puck all over. The hunger paid off when Adam Plant found Jordan Masters all alone in front 3 ½ minutes in. Masters got another when Lloyd nudged a face-off to the net and caught the Vees charging elsewhere. Everything seemed to be going well until the Warriors got a powerplay. And a half-minute 5-on-3 advantage. And has happed so often lately, the Warriors had some great looks on the man-advantage but couldn’t cash.
Late in the period, the Vees got a man advantage of their own and got on the board when Paul Stoykewych buried from the high slot.
The first period really was a strong frame from West Kelowna, and except for the special teams loss you had to like where the Tribe sat.
Things changed as the game wore on though. I’m not sure if the official shot count of 16-2 in the second period was on the money. But there’s no question that the Vees became the aggressors while the Warriors didn’t seem to adapt or keep up. Carl Hesler rang iron on a breakaway and Hunter Miska had another excellent showing overall. But Pen was air tight for the second half of the game, and their transition game seemed more dangerous that West Kelowna’s.
The Vees tied the game up midway through the second period when Ben Dalpe blasted a nice one-timer home on their second powerplay of the night. And then, early in the third, Captain Brad McClure rushed up the left and snuck a backhander through Andy Desautels. Three straight goals for the Vees, and another stomach-turning loss at RLP.
The Warriors had a terrific outing on Tuesday, and it’s hardly embarrassing or catastrophic. There was no faulting the effort level, although I would say the team probably didn’t play as well as it had on Saturday in Vernon, or even in that 6-3 loss to Pen a couple of weeks ago.
These are teams that know each other very well, and always seem to bring out the best in one another. This one may have been less high-flying and spectacular than some, but it was also a smart and well-structured hockey game. The type of game you see in the playoffs. The type of game where special teams make the difference. The type where the team making the fewest mistakes wins.
Two weeks ago, the Warriors had an awesome push in the third period but they couldn’t overcome a slow start. This time they got the start but couldn’t maintain. The Warriors need to beat the Vees this year, but they aren’t going to do it without playing their best for a full 60. Half a game of brilliance and half a game of pretty darn good hockey just isn’t quite enough in this rivalry.