By Jon Zaks
January 17, 2013, West Kelowna, BC (ISN) – The Warriors snuck out a 3-2 win in Merritt on Wednesday night, on the strength of 44 saves from Tyler Briggs and a pair of goals from Marcus Basara.
Tyler Briggs was outstanding as the Warriors earned a massive victory in Merritt on Wednesday night.
Briggs stopped 44 of the 46 pucks sent his way, as he earned first star honours and helped the Warriors earn a narrow 3-2 win.
Marcus Basara was named the third star of the game, posting two goals (his 23rd and 24th of the year) to pace the West Kelowna offence. Shawn Hochhausen also scored for the Warriors, with his 7th of the season holding up as the eventual game-winner.
Payton Schaeffer and Silvan Harper tallied for Merritt, with Tyler Steel making 19 saves in the defeat.
“I personally think could have been one of the most important games of the season” Tyler Briggs suggested after the game. With the victory, the Warriors now trail Merritt by just one point (with two extra games played) in the race for second spot in the BCHL’s Interior Conference.
As well as prevailing in a key divisional matchup, the Warriors have also now strung together three straight years for the first time since October.
The result in Merritt didn’t come easily, with the Centennials more than doubling West Kelowna in shots (46-22) and controlling the puck for extended periods in the Warriors’ zone.
“They did a really good job cycling that puck down low” Briggs concedes of Merritt’s effort and game-plan. However, the Warriors’ netminder also suggests that his team did an excellent job of keeping Merritt’s shots to the outside, allowing him to stop all but two.
“We’ve been practicing that all week” Briggs continued. “Just collapsing back to the net – we’d rather push them down the boards into the corners.”
West Kelowna earned the win with six regulars out of the lineup due to injury and illness.
The next action for the Tribe is a home-and-home series against Surrey on the weekend. The Warriors head to the Lower Mainland on Friday night, before hosting the Eagles on Saturday.
Jon Zacks’ blog – The General’s Report – has more coverage of the Warriors including the full interview with Tyler Briggs and more analysis on Wednesday’s game.