The Warriors kept the mojo going with a 5-3 win over Alberni Valley on Sunday.
West Kelowna was all over the Bulldogs early on, and while the visitors improved immensely as the game wore on, the damage was done.
Wrapping up a tough 3-game Interior road swing, the Bulldogs got an awesome opportunity when Ryan Ivey was served a double-minor for high-sticking a couple of minutes in. As it turned out, the PK wasn’t much of a sweat at all for the Tribe, and West Kelowna soon was on the front foot.
Jason Cotton opened the scoring on a nice Jordan Masters feed eight minutes in. Carl Hesler converted a Dogs turnover just 27 seconds later, and the Warriors were off to the races.
Alberni Valley had a dickens of a time clearing the D-zone early in the game. They threw some clumsy passes up the middle and got terrorized by the WK forecheck. But give the ‘underdogs’ credit, as they found some stability as the game wore on, even as the scoreline crept out of reach.
Tyson Dallman tipped in a Matt Anholt bid for a PPG minutes into the second. The Dogs took a couple more penalties, leading to the eventual game-winner when Ben Tegtmeyer ripped one home 5-on-3 (although Tegtmeyer told me his shot hit Reid Simmonds’ shin on the way in).
Up 4-0 heading to the third, the Warriors did take their foot off the gas a little bit, while the Bulldogs showed great character to make things interesting. Having said that, it was no-where near a collapse from West K. The Dogs simply got a couple of very well-earned bounces, and gave themselves something to feel good about heading home.
Jason Cotton gave the Warriors all the insurance they would need with a lovely powerplay strike five minutes into the third. The Dogs broke Cody Porter`s shutout bid midway through the period when Craig Martin fired one low and hard through traffic. Alberni got another when Kurt Gosselin pounded one home a minute later. Alberni got a third when Harlan Orr fired a sharp angle shot that somehow found its way in inside the final minute, however the hole was too deep, and the Warriors had done enough to earn the two points.
I thought both goalies played quite well in this game. Cody Porter gave his team a chance to win, and was actually only ten minutes away from his first BCHL shutout. He made a couple of good saves earlier in the game too, to prevent the Dogs from getting any life before the game was out of reach. Connor LaCouvee, meanwhile, played remarkably well to hold his team in it. Early on he was particularly sharp, controlling his rebounds smartly and seeing pucks that came through thick traffic in front.
Special teams also turned out to be a big factor in this game, with the Warriors looking very dangerous at 3/7. The point shots got through, the puck movement was crisp, and things really do seem to be falling into place for the beleaguered special teams crew. It’s a good time of year to be figuring out the PP, and West Kelowna has now won three games in a row in part thanks to strong special teams play.
Overall, the Warriors have now set a new franchise record with a 9-game unbeaten streak. The club remains unbeaten in 2014, and a home unbeaten streak of 8 games is also a new record.
Most importantly, the Warriors are now just four points back of Penticton heading into next weekend’s Coastal road trip.
*** Andy Desautels, Mac Ferner (susp), Taki Pantziris, and Nathan Craft were all scratched on Sunday. However, I get the sense that all four could return next week. Mike Winnitoy, meanwhile, played well once again in his fourth game as an ‘AP.’