The Warriors kept the roll going Wednesday, with a meaningful 2-1 victory in Penticton.
Hard work and committed team defence were paramount as the Warriors dictated play at the SOEC and earned their third straight triumph over their nemesis from the south.
The first 10 minutes or so were fairly even, thought the Warriors made a big statement by efficiently killing off two Pen powerplays (the WK PK really was excellent in this game).
West Kelowna then took over in the second half of the period. After one dangerous David Pope chance was thwarted by Hunter Miska, the Warriors drew first blood on a strong play from Liam Blackburn. After receiving a clever outlet feed from Pope, Blackburn delayed in the Vees zone before feeding Taki Pantziris for his first goal as a Warrior.
The second period was a more even frame, with Penticton starting to force more action around Andy Desautels (who surprised me by even being able to play in this game). Having said that, Penticton’s top guys were held almost exclusively to the outside, despite the Vees having last change and the occasional ‘line mismatch’.
With five minutes left in the second, Penticton native Adam Plant picked a perfect time to notch his first of the year when he banged in a powerplay goal just after Tyson Dallman had struck the post.
Penticton was much more dangerous in the third, and did generate some quality scoring chances. Brad McClure (on the broadcast I thought it was Shane McColgan) tried a sexy move on a breakaway but was denied by Desautels. Ben Dalpe had a gaping cage but somehow couldn’t bury. But other than that, the Warriors really did manage the puck well, eating up the neutral zone and keeping the puck away from the dangerous Vees and the dangerous areas.
The Vees got on the board when Brad McClure tipped a Paul Stoykewych bomb under the bar with six minutes remaining. The Warriors claimed McClure’s tip was a high-stick, and the goal certainly made things interesting. However, a few more clutch face-off wins from Carl Hesler and more savvy clock management allowed the Warriors to hang on for their 9th win in the past 11 games.
With the season series now tied 3-3, the clubs will play a rubber-match in February at RLP. That game will carry some intriguing story lines and of course a pivotal two points for both squads.
Having said that, I feel like the Warriors have already silenced the critics and slammed shut the history books. One of these teams will win the season series 4-3 (unless there’s a tie), meaning there shouldn’t be much advantage either way if the teams do meet in the post-season.
And while the Vees made headlines with their deadline acquisitions, it’s the Warriors who are stealing some of the spotlight and raising eyebrows with their impressive form.
** I also aired this interview with Jason Cotton in the first intermission – as we spoke about his inclusion on the watch-list for the 2014 NHL entry draft.
*** And, why not catch up with former Captain Alex Grieve? I aired this interview in the second intermission –as we chatted about playing at Fenway and his nomination for the 2014 Hobey Baker Award.
**** There was one spot of bad news, as Nathan Craft suffered an upper-body injury on his first shift of the game. Craft did not return, but it sounds like he’ll be back within a game or two.