West Kelowna isn't the wild west. Downtown Kelowna has the OK Corral Cabaret Nightclub.
Those are random facts, but tonight was a Wild West Shootout at the OK Corral. Okay, it was at Royal Lepage Place but still you get my drift as the Warriors dropped an 8-7 decision to Trail in a game that had almost everything.
West Kelowna welcomed in the Westbank First Nations and after a great ceremonial prayer to kick off the night, Jason Cotton had the jump in his legs that netted the first one just 18 seconds in. I had said on-air right as the puck dropped that with the noise makers in the stands already going crazy, it would be like a playoff game, and it was right from that goal on when it comes to crowd interaction and noise.
The Warriors hit a crossbar and a post in that opening frame as well, but were rewarded with a Tyler Kunz goal late in the period to make it 2-0 while out shooting Trail 14-7. Great start right? Sure was.
How to defend a 2-goal lead may be my first book title. It will not start with tonight's game, nor will you include what happened tonight in any of the chapters. Trail would score at 4:00, 6:34, 7:17, and 9:32 to take a 4-2 lead. Four goals, in 5:32 seconds on just 7 shots. Craig Martin scored a nice one on a breakaway, and a couple shots to the blocker side of Scott Patton showed a bit of rust on his part (he hasn't played since December 19th.)
The Warriors did finally seem to recover, and killed off 2 penalties in a row. One of the nicest goals of the night came late in that 2nd when Rylan Yaremko walked in on the right side and went under the crossbar to make it 4-3 with 1:27 left in the period. Yaremko saw a rare forward shift and was able to get his team back in the game. Whether that was a message to the forward group to wake up, or just a fill-in spot, it worked out.
The 3rd....was crazy. That's all I can use to describe the 3rd period of this one. Trail scores just 12 seconds in before anyone really knew the puck had dropped. The Warriors fought valiantly to tie the game and were rewarded on a weird goal from Brett Mennear. A minute before that, Kylar Hope snapped home the 5-4 goal. Mennear sent a pass out front from the corner, and with Brett Clark pre-occupied trying to hit Josh Bly and move him, the puck hits Clark and goes in, tying it up.
Trail finally got their power-play working and Ryan Swanson beat the screens and the goalie to make it 6-5. Andrew Johnson executed a nice 3 on 2 with 4:53 remaining as he finished a nice pass from Tanner Campbell. 6-6. Then 55 seconds after Warriors fans could feel the comeback being completed, Harlan Orr gets one from behind the net that bounced around and finally hit Patton and went in. 7-6 Trail.
Rylan Ferster calls his timeout with 1:17 to go, Brent Gough draws up the play, and as Kristian Blumenschein has a shot blocked it goes right to Cotton. Hammer-time. Goal. 7-7.
7 goals scored in that 3rd period on 27 shots. Cue OT.
The Warriors wouldn't get a shot in OT as 39 seconds in Dallas Calvin on the right side would beat Patton to win it 8-7. The line of Calvin, Craig Martin, and Jake Lucchini combines for 5 goals and 8 assists. The Warriors will need to figure out how to stop that or the minimal playoff hopes will be down to zero.
Speaking of playoffs, with Salmon Arm losing and Merritt winning tonight the Warriors sit 2 points back of both teams. This means that West Kelowna needs to get 3 more points than either Salmon Arm or Merritt to make the final 4 in the Interior. Salmon Arm has 5 games, Merritt has 7. None of the 3 teams are even close to guaranteed to make the playoffs yet, but Sunday's game against Nanaimo could be close to a must-win.
The Silverbacks and the Centennials have a magic number: 4. Four wins will get them a playoff spot even if the Wrriors go 5-0. It's a simple thing really, Warriors need to win, and they need both those teams to lose. Merritt plays Alberni Valley Saturday, and Cowichan Valley Sunday. Salmon Arm is off until next Friday. The scoreboard watching will continue.