December 14, 2013, Kelowna  (ISN) – Andy Desautels was 1:16 away from his first BCHL shutout the last time the Warriors hit the ice. On Friday vs. Merritt, West Kelowna’s netminder would not be denied.

Desautels stopped all 30 shots sent his way, as the Warriors rode a 2-0 second period lead to key home victory.

Scoreless after a cagey opening frame, the Warriors drew first blood when Jordan Masters converted a lovely 2-on-1 venture with Seb Lloyd.

With 900+ spectators on hand for the annual ‘Teddy Bear Toss,’ the eager fans launched an avalanche of stuffed animals onto ice as soon as Masters tucked the return feed past Devin Kero.

Shortly after the opening goal, the Centennials got in penalty trouble. A high-hit by Sebastian Pare on Ben Tegtmeyer led to a major penalty and a game misconduct to Pare, as well as a bench minor and ejection to Merritt Coach Luke Pierce.

With Scott Patterson also flagged for roughing shortly thereafter, West Kelowna’s Matt Anholt cashed on the ensuing 5-on-3 to give the Warriors all the insurance they would need.

Merritt would generate a few chances during a third period powerplay, but the Warriors were able to work the clock and hang on for the shutout that had eluded them in their previous outing in Salmon Arm.

“He made some key saves for us, especially on that PK there” Warriors Associate Coach Brent Gough stressed after the game.

“He’s a big kid, and he’s starting to use his body a little more” Gough suggests. “He’s working hard at it, and I think his work ethic has paid dividends for him.”

Gough says he’s content with his team’s defensive outing, but still troubled by a powerplay that went 1/5 on Friday. “We have a lot of skill there, and for some reason it’s not clicking” he thinks. “We need to generate more.”

However, with a special teams victory and a key two points secured, the Warriors moved back into a playoff position in the BCHL’s Interior Division.

West Kelowna now sits tied with Merritt for fourth place in the division, with three games in hand.

“December’s looking a lot better for us” forward Liam Blackburn insists, referring to a past two games in which the Warriors have allowed 56 shots and just one goal against.

The Warriors will look for another worthy performance when they host the league-leading Powell River Kings on Sunday.

West Kelowna lost a 4-3 overtime decision in the year’s previous meeting October 4th in Powell River.

“We lost a hard one to them” Blackburn concedes. “If we come back with our hard-working game and play like we have in the past few games, we’ll pull off a ‘W.’

Sunday’s contest launches at 2:30 at Royal LePage Place.