By Jon Zacks
December 15, 2012, (ISN) – The West Kelowna Warriors continue to find ways to squander valuable points when games extend past 60 minutes. Friday night was no exception as the Trail Smoke Eaters edged the Warriors 4-3 in double overtime before more than 900 fans on Teddy Bear toss night at Royal LePage Place.
The defeat drops the Warriors overtime record to a dismal one win, two ties, and seven losses.
Conner Collett was the latest opponent to break Warriors’ hearts as he put the puck into a wide open net early in the 3-on-3 session.
Goaltender Tyler Briggs won a race to a loose puck along the left boards but his clearing pass went right to a streaking Smoke Eater forward. The puck found its way in front of the net to Collett who hit the net with Briggs scrambling to try and get back.
While it was an unfortunate way for the game to end, Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster says his team was probably lucky to even get the game into overtime.
“I don’t know if the game is over because of that – again, I don’t think we played a full 60 minutes here tonight,” says Ferster.
“I think the loss happens before that. We’re the team that’s probably lucky to get the point.”
Luke Sandler scored twice for the visitors who never trailed in the contest. Affiliate player JJ Beitel also scored for Trail with a soft wrister from the left point that squeezed past a screened Briggs.
Seb Lloyd, Brent Lashuk and Jetlan Houcher replied for a Warriors squad that fought back from one-goal deficits on three occasions to force overtime.
Captain Max French assisted on all three Warriors goals.
After a fairly even opening 20, the Smokies dominated much of the middle frame. If not for several key saves by Briggs when the score was 3-2, the deficit could have been much worse.
“You think you’ve said all the right things but, obviously you haven’t or else they’re not listening because they come out and try to be individuals and think it’s going to be a little easy,” says Ferster.
“They have a team over there that works extremely hard and they wanted it more in the second period.”
The Warriors did get the equalizer in the third and could have had a couple more. Houcher hit the post and Marcus Basara put the rebound through the crease, inches past the pipe midway through the final period.
A few moments later Lyndon Stanwood stoned Houcher again, this time from point blank range in the slot.
The Warriors have struggled to be consistent throughout most of the season, however, Ferster admitted the team is in a pretty good position 10 days prior to Christmas.
“If someone would have told going into tonight we would be in second place with the injuries we have had we would have probably taken that in August,” says Ferster.
“We want to try and find the positive in all of this but it’s kind of stinging right now.
The Warriors played without forwards Brett McKinnon, David Pope and Ambrose Firkus against the Smokies.
It’s doubtful the three will play next weekend when the Warriors conclude the pre-Christmas portion of their schedule with a home and home set with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, beginning Friday at Royal LePage Place.
Meanwhile, the Warriors did manage to collect several hundred teddy bears for the Westside Community Food Bank. The stuffed animals, tossed on the ice after Lloyd’s goal, will be added to hampers sent to less fortunate families in time for Christmas.
Delve deeper into the West Kelowna Warriors at The General’s Report.