April 3, 2013, West Kelowna, BC (ISN) Reid Simmonds scored his biggest goal in a West Kelowna Warriors uniform.
The 19 year-old forward tapped home his fourth of the post-season 16:39 into overtime capping a wild Warriors comeback in a 5-4 win over the Penticton Vees in game four of their Interior final.
The Vees still lead the series 3-1 with game five set for the South Okanagan Events Centre Thursday night.
Seemingly down and out after trailing 4-1 in the third and their season on the line, the Warriors roared back with three unanswered goals to force sudden death overtime for the second time in as many nights.
Warriors coach Rylan Ferster says, with their season on the line, the Warriors showed character in mounting the third period comeback.
Ferster says there was no magic speech in the dressing room after the second period.
“We said we were still going to play hard and do it and we just continued as we usually do” says Ferster. “I’m not one of those guys that says lets go out guns ablaze. I can’t make that speech – I’m going to prepare and try to have our guys ready until the final buzzer.”
Simmonds says there was no quit in the dressing room.
“In the second period intermission no one was down. We all had faith in one another down 4-1 and we just made a push and ended up with the win,” says Simmonds.
The Vees appeared to have the game and the series all but wrapped up after another dominating second period.
Trailing 1-0 after one the Vees turned it up a notch in the second, getting four unanswered goals. A pair from Sam Mellor and singles from Brad McClure and Cody DePourcq gave the Vees a 4-1 heading into the final 20 minutes.
“We talk about it all the time about that team, they’re so good and I think you saw it in the second period how good they are. We gave them chances and they scored,” says Ferster. “We missed a couple of assignments down low and it’s in your net. You just can’t do that with that team, they’re just so good.”
After being shut down for much of the last three games of the series, the Warriors top unit of Max French, Seb Lloyd and Marcus Basara keyed the comeback.
Basara scored his first of the series 5:31 into the third. 82 seconds later, with James De Haas in the penalty box, David Pope wired home his fourth to cut the deficit to one.
“The fans were great in this one. By the end of the third the whole building was buzzing and all they guys were buzzing. It was a great atmosphere,” added Simmonds.
Firkus, who was dangerous all night, had a chance to tie the score four minutes after Pope’s goal but his shot from the right faceoff circle rang off the bar with Chad Katunar beaten.
French ensured the Warriors would at least have a chance to complete the comeback when he evened the score with just five-and-a-half minutes left.
It was his third of the series but first since game one.
As was the case Monday night the Vees had the better chances early in the overtime period.
Wade Murphy hit the goal post from the low slot just 15 seconds into overtime and again later in the period from the same spot was foiled by Tyler Briggs who was sensational when he needed to be in overtime.
“I think for Briggsy, that was one of the best 18 minutes he’s played for us so far. He made some great saves and gave us a chance,” added Ferster.
Simmonds took advantage of that chance scoring off a faceoff deep in the Vees end.
“It was just a great play by Hawk (Shawn Hochhausen) to get the puck on net. I was going to the net and just happened to be in the crease and put it home,” says Simmonds of the winner.
Special teams worked in the Warriors favour for the first time in the series.
West Kelowna went 2-5 on the power-play while the Vees were shut down on both of their opportunities.
Should the Warriors prevail in game five Thursday, game six would be played back at Royal LePage Place Friday night.
Get more on the dramatic win at The General’s Report.