November 9, 2012, West Kelowna, BC – Brett McKinnon’s second goal of the night with 54 seconds left in regulation time helped the West Kelowna Warriors to a thrilling 5-4 victory over the visiting Victoria Grizzlies Friday night.
The win snapped the Warriors five game losing streak.
With the Warriors buzzing in the Victoria zone, Marcus Basara threw the puck in front of the net where McKinnon found it in a maze of skates and snapped home his eighth of the season.
“I zipped it bottom right corner. Threw it on net and kind of got lucky I guess,” says McKinnon of the game winner.
Mckinnon was reunited with centre Shawn Hochhausen and Marcus Basara and the line responded with three goals and seven assists on the night.
McKinnon finished with two goals and two assists while Hochhausen had a goal and two assists and Barara chipped in with three helpers.
It was Hochhausen’s goal with nine seconds left in the opening period, with the Warriors enjoying a five-on-three advantage, that got the team going.
The Warriors trailed 2-0 at the time despite having numerous chances against the 13th-ranked team in the nation.
The goal gave the team a big lift heading into the middle frame.
“It was huge. Going into the second we had a bit of momentum and in the room we knew we could be better than these guys and we knew we were going to come out and win this game,” added McKinnon.
Jetlan Houcher evened the game with his second of the season on a power-play midway through the second. However, just 14 seconds later, the Grizz would get that one back and re-take the one goal lead.
The Warriors re-established the momentum late in the period when Brennan Clark and McKinnon scored just 24 seconds apart to give the Warriors their first lead of the night.
Victoria would tie it midway through the third setting up McKinnon’s heroics.
“We had a little bit of a brain cramp on the fourth goal and kind of gave them one which we shouldn’t have but I thought we played pretty well in our own end for the most part,” says head coach, Rylan Ferster.
“I don’t know if we let off the gas but we’re playing a team that’s ranked number 13 in the country so you know they’re going to come hard, it’s just a matter of time.”
The Warriors played Friday without six regulars out of the line-up due to illness, injury or commitments to other teams. Seb Lloyd remains at the World Jr. A Challenge in Nova Scotia while Ambrose Firkus is at the World Jr. Fastball Championships in Argentina.
With five players up from Junior ‘B’ or midget, Ferster was forced to lean on his veteran players more than he may have liked.
“You hate to put a bunch of young guys in positions where they might not be able to have success,” says Ferster.
“I think that’s something you always want to do as a coach. You want to put guys in situations where they can possibly see success.”
Ferster says the team needed to fight and scratch out a win.
“We’ll worry about tomorrow night tomorrow night.”
Aside from ending a five game losing streak the win was also the first in a Warriors uniform for backup netminder Garrett Rockafellow.
The former Grizzlies goaltender stopped 31 shots in beating his former mates – none better than a phenomenal glove grab off Chase Kaiser who had the entire net to shoot at until Rockafellow flashed the leather along the goal-line.
“I think it was pretty special for him playing against his former team. I’m really happy for him, he’s such a good kid and he works so hard,” says Ferster of Rockafellow.
“He is so committed to his team and to his game. I can’t say enough good words about him.”
Rockafellow will likely get the call against Saturday against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks as Tyler Briggs recovers from a bout of the flu.