The West Kelowna Warriors got themselves a split on the road to open up the BCHL playoffs this week with a Double Overtime victory in Game 1 where Jason Cotton played the hero and Scott Patton made 52 saves. The 2nd game would go to the Vees once again in Overtime, but it was Patton again that was the story as he made 44 more saves in the Warriors net.
The outcome of game two really was ultimately a toss up heading into the 2nd period when it remained scoreless, but Nick Rutigliano and Andrew Johnson pushed the Warriors to a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes. The Vees though responded early in the 3rd cutting the lead in half and then tying the game on a power-play marker from Demico Hannoun to tie it up.
In overtime, it ended in the first 4 minutes as Matt Serratore spun and fired the puck through Patton on a bit of a scrambled and surprising play that didn't really look like a shot attempt was going to come out of it. It did, and ended up in the back of the West Kelowna net.
What had been a great game to that point looked as if it was destined for another long night almost ended too abruptly, and I'm not just saying that because the Warriors lost. The game was entertaining throughout with some great opportunities and even better saves. Hoping for more of the same now that the Warriors have returned home.
Game 3 Preview:
Crowd: The Warriors will have the home crowd on their side for the first time in this series, although it was great to see a bunch of fans at the SOEC for the opening two games. The Warriors got to salute them at the end of Game 1, and hope that they can push them through everything here in Game 3. The key for West Kelowna will stay the same as it was in Penticton. Get physical early. When you have 1000+ people backing you up and a big hit is laid, the energy will be alive and well in the building.
Miska vs Patton: Nobody would have said at the beginning of the season or even the series that this would be an even match-up between the pipes. In this series though, both goaltenders are matching each other save for save, with Patton making the extra ones the Vees create. The Warriors will need to continue to get into the face of Miska and take away his eyes, and Patton will need to continue to step up. This is the best battle happening on the ice.
Discipline: Each team has scored only once on the power-play in the series as the Warriors have gone 1-5, and the Vees 1-8. In the first game there was a lot of stuff let go by the officials and good on them, allowing the players to play and calling the penalties that truly needed to be called. In game 2 it changed. The Warriors would get 4 power-plays in that game, but for only 4:20 out of a possible 8 minutes. Each power-play was shortened either due to a preceding penalty, or a penalty taken during the man-advantage, except for one in the last 5 minutes of the opening period.
Kyle Marino and Tyson Jost each took a 10 minute misconduct in that 1st period as well, and while the casual fan thinks that the Warriors win that trade-off, with the effectiveness that Marino has had, I think it was closer to an even trade-off.
Both teams will need to try and harness the emotions as this series is starting to heat up after the whistles. It's going to come down to what happens between the whistles and the team that can stop when the whistle blows will be successful.
Pre-game show goes at 6:45 on Fast Hockey and at www.wdcr.ca. Join us at the rink at 5 for a courtyard party as we get revved up for Game 3. It's going to be fun!