The West Kelowna Warriors dropped the 2nd game of a home and home with the Merritt Centennials allowing a late goal in the 3rd period that proved to be the winner from Nick Jermain.
Liam Blackburn got the Warriors on the board first, before Tyler Ward responded for the Centennials. Once again, it was a turnover by the Warriors that lead to the Ward goal, as he was able to beat Daniel Mannella from the slot.
Merritt would go up 2-1 early in the 2nd on the power-play, as Gavin Gould buried his 1st of the night, before the Warriors rattled off 3 straight goals.
Kristian Blumenschein scored twice, including a power-play marker and one off a face-off. Anthony Pupplo was screened on the 2nd goal, as he didn't move as the puck went past him. Brett Mennear put the Warriors up 4-2 when he went in on a 2 on 1 with Kyle Marino and snapped one home.
Jake Tesarowski would take down Colin Grannary on a breakaway, giving the Merritt forward a penalty shot at 13:02. Grannary would go to his backhand after slowly coming in on the right hand side, and slipped it through the legs of Mannella. The Centennials tied it up with a goal on a breakaway from Gould, after the Warriors d-men dove to break up the pass, slowing the puck down just enough so it ended right on Gould's stick, as he beat Mannella on the blocker side.
The game remained tied until there was 2:23 left in the 3rd period, when Jermain spun and fired after a turnover and a late reaction from Mannella allowed the game winner to go by. It was a bit of a punch in the gut for the Warriors, as they seemed destined for at least OT, if not the win. West Kelowna had control of the play for the most part, out-shooting Merritt by a 35-22 margin.
The West Kelowna Warriors had a good 1st period tonight, with really just the one blemish on the turnover and Tyler Ward goal, but they seemed as if they were in control. When you only allow 5 shots in the period, that probably explains the way the period went.
Talking to Shae Naka before the game, the Warriors allowed just 10 scoring chances the night before, and they had 26 themselves. It's expected that once they go through the game film, the Centennials will probably have less than 10 chances in last night's hockey game as well. It was just a situation where the breakdowns turned into goals, and you need a big save or two in those situations.
West Kelowna was disciplined last night, taking only 2 minors that lead to power-plays. Merritt did get a power-play goal, so the Warriors PK was only 50%, but when you limit the number of chances for the opposition with the man advantage, things are always better.
The Warriors power-play went just 1 for 5 on the night, and at times were just too cute in the offensive zone. The one goal that was scored happened because Kristian Blumenschein shot the puck. The other power-plays, including a 5 on 3, did not see too many shots fired towards Pupplo.
The Warriors will practice on Monday ahead of a mid-week game against the Trail Smoke Eaters on Tuesday night. Trail got a victory against Vernon on the road Friday night, before dropping their home opener to the Vipers on Saturday. The Smoke Eaters have always had the ability to score goals, but their downfall in recent years has been goaltending. With the addition of Bailey Macburnie that could have been shored up, and the Warriors will need to test him big time on Tuesday.