The West Kelowna Warriors flexed their offensive muscles in an 8-3 victory on Tuesday night at Royal Lepage Place. Once the Warriors scored their 3rd goal of the game, they were in complete control, up 5-1 after 2, and controlling the play throughout.
Trail would open the scoring early on the power-play, as Harlan Orr snapped one past Forbes Ploszaj who made his first start of his BCHL career.
West Kelowna tied the game up on the man advantage as Jonathan Desbiens on-ice shot eluded Linden Marshall. The Warriors scored once more in the first when Garrett Forster's wrist shot from the left circle slipped through between Marshall's arm and body.
The Warriors scored 3 straight in the 2nd period, as Paul Lovsin scored his 2nd of the year, and Kylar Hope followed up with a pair right after. Hope's 2nd was a beautiful deflection in front of the goal.
Lovsin had a great chance in the 3rd period while short-handed, but it was waved off for incidental contact with the goaltender. Initial reaction from the booth was that it might have been kicked in, but it went off the skate of the Trail defender and slid past Marshall as Lovsin was falling.
After Trail made it 5-2, the Warriors responded on the power-play when Liam Blackburn knocked in a loose puck off a scramble in the Trail crease, to increase his night total to 4 points. Blackburn would pick up an assist on Rylan Yaremko's 3rd of the year, when the birthday boy went backhand-shelf in tight to make it 7-2.
Ross Armour deflected a puck past Ploszaj to make it 7-3, before Desbiens buried on a 2 on 1 with Quin Foreman to round out the scoring.
West Kelowna's power-play went 2-5 in the hockey game, moving to 6-14 on the young season.
The Warriors looked dominant at times in tonight's hockey game as they seemingly scored at will in the 2nd period, and just continued that in the final frame. There were some very pretty goals scored (Yaremko, Lovsin, Hope 2nd, Desbiens 2nd) and a greasy goal by Blackburn. The others were products of shots on goal, which the Rookie goaltender struggled with handling.
Defensively, the Warriors did a good job in transition tonight, not allowing too many chances. Allowing only 20 shots, the Warriors have not allowed more than 22 in a game. If you can do that every night, you're going to be tough to beat.
This was one of those hockey games where the Warriors controlled the flow of the play throughout the night. The match-up game seemed to work for the Warriors, and forced Trail to adjust their lines to try and create some offense. The 20-year-old line of Harlan Orr, Jake Kauppila, and Kurt Black did have 2 of the 3 goals, but they didn't seem to be much of a threat tonight. With Liam Blackburn on the ice against that line, the majority of the time West Kelowna controlled the puck off the draw. It will be interesting to see the faceoff numbers from Shae Naka this week, but I'd guess that West Kelowna won 70-75% of the draws.
Forbes Ploszaj wasn't busy (and that's going to be a trend I feel) and got beat by a couple that i'm sure he wants back. The deflection by Armour is a tough one, but Ploszaj followed the puck well on a couple of late opportunities that bounced around.
The Penticton Vees. Does anything more need to be said? After a crazy 104 penalty minute game in the pre-season, and last years playoff series, this one should definitely have some energy to it. It will be another edition of the rivalry, with Penticton having played Wednesday (Home to Vernon) and Friday (@ Surrey). Conditioning will be key, yes, but early in the year probably less of a factor.
The Warriors staff will get a chance to see the Vees on Wednesday night, and implement some strategies for the new Penticton personnel in practice Thursday and Friday before the game on Saturday.
Look for a preview Saturday by noon.