Different night – different hero – same result.
(ISN) – For the second night in a row the West Kelowna Warriors got a goal in
overtime to edge the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 4-3.
Friday night in Salmon Arm it was newly minted captain Andrew Johnson
who scored the game winner…Saturday it was BCHL scoring leader Liam
Blackburn’s turn to play the role of hero.
Blackburn netted the game winner on the extra session’s only shot,
beating Angus Redmond just 64 seconds into the five minute four-on-four
The goal came just seconds after Blackburn missed a chance to win it
when he hit the side of the net from in close with most of the net to
Johnson scored twice for the Warriors while Jason Cotton on a
five-on-three power-play rounded out the scoring.
Salmon Arm opened the scoring five minutes into the first period and
held the lead until Johnson took the game over in the second.
He tied it with his fourth of the season on the power-play then gave the
Warriors their first lead of the game with a rocket of a wrist shot just
inside the bar on the short side from the right faceoff circle.
After the Silverbacks tied it early in the third Cotton restored the one
goal lead with a laser beam of a wrist shot from the left circle.
Taro Hirose got that one back in the final minute when his shot from in
close hit iron. The officials ruled the puck his the back bar
while the Warriors argued it his the front crossbar and stayed out.
The goal stood forcing overtime and Blackburn’s heroics.
Johnson, playing just his seventh game with the Warriors says the two
overtime wins were big for his team.
“We’re finding our identity right now and things are starting to come
along. It was a huge weekend for us,” says Johnson.
“There were a couple of mistakes we can look at and clean up but all in
all I thought myself and the boys played well. It’s tough giving up the
lead with a minute left but we have a lot of character in that room and
it showed, we didn’t quit.”
Johnson was named captain during last weekend’s island road swing.
Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster says giving Johnson the captaincy in
just his third game with the team wasn’t something he did lightly.
“I had a few meetings about it with our veterans and with our staff and
we really felt comfortable doing it and we wanted to make sure he felt
comfortable with it too,” says Ferster of the decision.
“We sat down and made sure everyone was on the same page, our leaders as
well as him. Touch wood it’s worked out well.”
The Warriors haven’t lost in regulation time since the move was made
going 4-0-0-1 over that stretch.
Saturday’s win was the Warriors third in a row and also just their
second on home ice in six tries. They are 7-1-0-2 away from Royal LePage
It was also another game in which the Warriors were unable to dress a
full 20 man roster due to suspensions and injuries.
Both Kade Kehoe and Brett Mennear have now finished serving four game
suspension resulting from that game ending brawl with Vernon two weeks ago.
Injured forwards Jordan Masters and Adam Osczevski and defenceman
Greydon Robinson are not quite ready to return.
The win also moved the Warriors into sole possession of second spot in
the ultra tight Interior Division.
Just four points separate the second place Warriors from sixth place
Trail and Salmon Arm.
Ferster admits the three point games the Warriors and Silverbacks played
over the last two nights are not what the rest of the division was
hoping to see.
“We just want to worry about ourselves. It’s such a good division every
year that I’ve been here…you’re going to have two very good teams miss
the playoffs. I’m sure it’s going to go down right to the last week of
The Warriors get a few days to savour this one before beginning a
stretch of five games in 11 nights Wednesday in Penticton.
They’ll play in Merritt Friday before returning home to host the Prince
George Spruce Kings next Sunday afternoon.