March 9, 2013, West Kelowna, BC (ISN) – West Kelowna never led the game, but fought back from three separate one-goal deficits to beat the Grizzlies in overtime on Friday.
Facing the top team in the Island Division, the Warriors tied the game up for the third time on Danny Gayle’s powerplay goal with two minutes remaining in regulation.
Ambrose Firkus then provided the winner when he stripped a Victoria defender and undressed Grizzlies goalie Michael Stiliadis in the first extra frame.
Marcus Basara and Adam Plant also scored for the Tribe, while Keyler Bruce, Myles Powell, and Josh Adkins responded for Victoria.
“Victoria’s a really strong team in this division, and we might end up facing them in the playoffs” says Danny Gayle of the matchup. It’s a good test for us to see where they’re at and where we’re at.”
Gayle also knows that, while the win is pivotal, just playing in close games is beneficial so late in the year. “Just being in a one-goal game and being able to persevere and get the victory is key heading into the playoffs.”
The matchup was also a feisty affair, featuring two fights and plenty of chippy play. Brett McKinnon returned to the West Kelowna lineup after a four-month absence due to a concussion. McKinnon was one of several Warriors targeted physically by the Grizzlies, and ended up fighting Turner Lawson.
Gayle says he and his teammates are a little concerned about McKinnon’s health, but also insists his fellow 20 year-old will battle through. “He’s a hard working guy and has a lot of passion, so I’m sure he’ll be ok.
Tyler Briggs made 32 saves in the victory. Grizzlies netminder Michael Stiliadis made 31 stops in the defeat.
With the win and an overtime loss by Merritt, the Warriors and Centennials are now tied in the race for second in the division and home ice in the first round.
The Cents have just one game remaining in the season (Saturday in Vernon). West Kelowna has two games remaining in the trip – with stops in Cowichan Valley on Saturday and Nanaimo on Sunday.
Check out The General’s Report for ongoing coverage of the West Kelowna Warriors.