Thursday, 31 December 2015

Warriors 4 - Trail 1

The West Kelowna Warriors ended 2015 with a complete team effort despite being down two regular forwards as they won a physical and emotionally-charged affair on Wednesday night in Trail by a 4-1 score.

Quin Foreman got the Warriors on the board first in the opening period, after Jared Marino and Reed Gunville battled to get him the puck. A quick release by Foreman snapped it off a defenseman's stick and past Bailey MacBurnie who had been solid early as the Warriors peppered the Trail goal.

West Kelowna took 3 straight penalties in the 1st period, but their special teams luck changed in the 2nd as Trail took 5 straight, including 1 with just 4 seconds to go in the 1st period. The Warriors would make the Smoke Eaters pay twice in the final 5:30 of the 2nd, as Liam Blackburn one-timed a shot off a loose puck to make it 2-0, before Jonathan Desbiens beat MacBurnie from the circle for a 3-0 lead with just over a minute left.

A power-play goal from Trail was the lone puck to beat Matthew Greenfield, who has allowed just 4 goals in 3 games so far for West Kelowna since being acquired in mid-December.

It was Blackburn who scored the empty net goal for West Kelowna in the final minute, as he out-battled a Trail defender and fell once as well before he potted it into the yawning cage.

 Game Thoughts:

  • The effort tonight was exactly what the Warriors were looking for as they played a highly entertaining style of hockey, blasting a ton of pucks towards Bailey MacBurnie throughout the night, taking advantage twice of the power plays they were given, and once again getting great goaltending from Matthew Greenfield.
  • The Warriors were dominated last year in the first game after Christmas in a 7-3 loss to Trail, but the veterans on this team made sure that wasn't going to happen. I wouldn't say the Warriors controlled the game throughout, but they were good for long stretches.
  • West Kelowna gave up more than 30 shots on the night for just the 7th time this season, as Matthew Greenfield shut the door with 34 saves on the night. He's allowed just 4 goals in 3 games, while sporting a .962 SV%.
  • With both Brett Mennear and Tanner Campbell out of the lineup (status/returns unknown), Rylan Ferster and Shae Naka decided to stack up one line with Liam Blackburn, Kylar Hope, and Jonathan Desbiens. While they were responsible for a pair of power-play goals, it was the line of Jared Marino, Reed Gunville, and Quin Foreman that impressed throughout the night. They were responsible for the opening goal, and worked hard throughout the night to create opportunities. I thought Gunville had one of his best games this season as he was both a pest, and an offensive threat on numerous occasions.
  • Speaking of pests, that's what the Trail Smoke Eaters tried to be throughout the night. While the penalty minutes ended up almost even (28 Trail, 24 WK) it was the Smoke Eaters who tried to get the Warriors off their game. There were numerous scrums in the 3rd period, including Rylan Yaremko getting a cross-check to the face trying to find a loose puck, and a number of attempts to run over Greenfield in the Warriors goal. Harlan Orr finally got to him, going head first into Greenfield's chest on an attempted net-drive. 

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