by Jon Zacks
January 27, 2014, Chilliwack (ISN) – The Warriors are back in West Kelowna with five of a possible six points, while their fans are defibrillating after the latest theatrical finish.
Leading 5-2 early the second period, the Warriors allowed the Chiefs to score five straight goals and take a 7-5 lead late in the game.
However, comeback miracles are becoming the norm for the Warriors, and Sunday brought another heartstopper.
With goalie Cody Porter on the bench for the extra attacker, West Kelowna struck twice in the final minute to force overtime and salvage a 7-7 tie.
“It was a crazy game” Brent Gough concedes. The Warriors Associate Coach was impressed with another late comeback from his club, but a little less enthused with its rupture in the second half of the game.
“With the team we have you would think we could have locked that one down. But credit to them – they worked hard. At 5-2 they could have packed it in but they didn’t, they kept coming at us.”
Warriors Captain Matt Anholt also didn’t think his club’s defensive play was up to snuff. “We cheated way too much in the defensive zone” Anholt says, while also taking solace in the late push.
“For the boys to score two goals in the last minute or whatever it was (55 seconds) shows a lot of character that we have.”
David Pope opened the scoring just 1:02 into the game. He also scored both goals with Cody Porter on the bench, giving him 18 on the year and 10 in his past 10 games.
Pope has also been instrumental in several of the Warriors’ comebacks of late, scoring twice in the final 1:23 to allow the Warriors to earn an overtime win in Trail on Dec. 30 and posting a goal and an assist in the final 1:04 when West K. came back to tie Nanaimo on Jan. 5.
Carl Hesler, Reid Simmonds, Matt Anholt, and Jason Cotton also all scored for the Warriors on Sunday.
Tanner Cochrane replied with a three-goal performance for Chilliwack, while Jordan Kawaguchi, Blake Gober, Kyle Westeringh, and Jake Hand added singles.
As for West Kelowna’s descent in the second and third periods, Gough says his team let up with the score 5-2.
“I don’t think we gave Cody (Porter) a lot of help either” Gough says; something Anholt agrees with. “He did not have a chance on any one of those goals” the Warriors Captain insists, adding “he made the saves he had to.”
The Warriors’ young back-up improved his record to 4-3-1 on the year, while Josh Halpenny replaced Spencer Tremblay after five West K. tallies and was excellent.
Exhausted after playing three emotional games in three days, Anholt says he is content with attaining five of a possible six points on the road trip. “I’m proud of the boys how we played this weekend” he nods.
The Warriors trail the first-place Penticton Vees by three points, with one game in hand. Third place Vernon now sits six points back, with the Warriors holding two games in hand on the Vipers.
West Kelowna hosts Vernon on Saturday, after a visit to Merritt on Friday.
Get more colour at The General’s Report.