The West Kelowna Warriors dropped a 4-2 decision to the Penticton Vees on Saturday night in a game that turned into an ugly affair at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The first period went by without much offense to report as both teams played a tight-checking style of play in the game’s opening period. Warriors defensemen Jake Harrison was struck up high with either a stick or skate in the middle of the period and had to be helped off the ice and did not return to the game.
Warriors netminder Gabriel Morency was challenged with nine opening period shots and made saves on each and every one of them while Vees goaltender Mat Robson stopped all seven shots he faced in the first frame as both teams played to a scoreless tie after the opening 20 minutes of the game.
The Warriors opened the scoring just 1:43 into the 2nd period and came courtesy of Connor Sodergren just as a power play expired. Sodergren found a rebound off a Nicholas Rutigliano shot and buried it past Robson on the blocker side for his 20th goal of the season and gave the Warriors a 1-0 advantage.
The Vees tied the game at the 8:56 mark of the 2nd frame as Vees captain Nicholas Jones tallied his 8th goal of the season against the Warriors and 18th overall on the year with a shot from the left face-off circle that beat Morency to the glove side to tie the game at one.
Penticton took their first lead of the game at the 16:01 mark of the middle stanza as Owen Sillinger fired in a shot from the left face-off circle on an expiring power play, very identical spot to Jones’ goal, for his 15th goal of the season and gave the Vees their first lead of the hockey game at a 2-1 score.
The Vees fired 17 2nd period shots toward the Warrior net but Gabriel Morency made 15 saves in the frame and 24 overall through two periods on 26 Vees attempts toward goal. Mat Robson turned aside 8 of 9 Warrior shots in the 2nd period and stopped 15 of 16 attempts on goal by the visitors through two periods.
The third period started with the Warriors tying the game just 1:12 into the final period as Chase Stevenson scored his fifth goal in seven games. Quin Foreman centered the puck from below the goal line and spotted Stevenson out in front who beat Robson to the glove side for his 5th goal of the season and a 2-2 tie game.
The Vees took their lead back at the 4:17 mark of the 3rd period as Grant Cruikshank took an indirect pass off the boards and got behind the Warriors defense, beating Morency through the five hole for his 26th goal of the season and restoring a one goal lead for the Vees at 3-2.
Penticton opened up a two-goal lead at the 5:51 mark of the 3rd frame with a power play goal courtesy of Chris Klack as the Vees forward was spotted in front of the net by Nic Jones and scored on a glove side shot for his 11th goal of the season and a 4-2 Vees lead.
Things took a turn for the worst at the 10:24 mark of the 3rd period as Ryley Risling was assessed a five-minute blow to the head major penalty that started a ruckus and saw Scott Allan and Kenny Johnson drop the gloves with each of the three players getting game misconducts. Nic Jones and Connor Sodergren got involved later in the period as the two exchanged in a healthy battle while the game ended with a Chase Stevenson blow to head major penalty and the game finishing at a 4-2 score in favour of the Vees.
Warriors netminder Gabriel Morency made 30 saves on 34 shots for his 1st loss as a member of the Warriors while Mat Robson earned his 27th win of the season with 26 saves on 28 shots.
FINAL SCORE: 4-2 Vees
SHOTS ON GOAL: 34-28 Vees
PP: Warriors (0/4) Vees (2/4)
1) Nic Jones (1-1-2)
2) Mat Robson (26 saves on 28 shots)
3) Chris Klack (1-1-2)
The Warriors (22-20-0-1) begin a three-game road trip as they head out to Vancouver Island as they face-off against the Victoria Grizzlies (29-10-4-3) at the Q Centre in the first game of the season series. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with the pre-game show at 6:50 PM on the Warriors Internet Network or hockeytv.com.
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