The West Kelowna Warriors battled a lot of adversity on Monday night and they came away with a huge victory to make the series a 2-1 scoreline in favour of the Vees. To say tonight's came was crucial was obvious, but the route to get to the win is one that had the fans reacting with applause and despair.
The Warriors trailed in the first period after giving up a power-play goal, the fourth they've allowed in the series, but were able to tie it up at the end of the first period when Jonathan Desbiens slipped one through the legs of goaltender Zachary Driscoll, bringing the 1352 fans (minus the Vees supporters) to their feet.
Let's talk about the crowd for a moment. Yes there were a bunch of Vees fans, as expected, and they made a lot of noise with their Go Vees Go chants early in the game, and supported their team without. The Warriors fans took some time to get going, but Desbiens got them going with that key goal late in the first.
The fans continued to be united on one front, and that was the support of the Warriors penalty kill. West Kelowna was called for the first five penalties in the hockey game, including some 5 on 3 time that the Vees were given after Kylar Hope was called for goaltender interference with the Warriors trying for a 2 on 1 while down a man. Watching the tape after, there's a pretty healthy shove from Easton Brodzinski that helps Hope into the crease. The Warriors killed it all off and headed to the third tied at 1.
Liam Blackburn scores the winner for the Warriors halfway through the period, but the Warriors had something at the start of the period they hadn't had all game...a power play. It lasted just one minute on the heels of some 4 on 4 time, and West Kelowna couldn't get a sniff at the net in the 60 seconds.
I'm a big stats guy, and a lot of people who haven't seen the games are starting to think that maybe West Kelowna is just a little undisciplined. Those who have watched the games, know this isn't the case, and there may just be a double standard being called. Sure, the Vees may have the puck a lot because they have a ton of skilled players, but the Warriors have skilled guys too that just don't get any benefits when they have the puck.
The penalties are 18 for the Warriors and 6 for the Vees in 3 games, not counting double-minors or coincidentals. I'll just leave that there.
West Kelowna will need another big effort Tuesday Night to hopefully be in a tied position heading back to Penticton on Friday. The Vees haven't lost back to back all season, but it's the playoffs, and they've only had one opportunity to win after losing (1st round vs Vernon). Plus, as Fred Harbinson said to me pre-game, "We're playing a lot better team in this round", so we'll see what happens.
Fans, the Warriors need you! You were great tonight, let's be great again tomorrow! Office is open from 9 am to 4 pm, you can also call with Visa/Mastercard at 250-769-7051