By Kyle Anderson
It was a busy night for the penalty box attendants on Friday night, but an exciting night for over 1400 fans at Royal LePage Place during a 6-1 West Kelowna Warriors win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
The two teams will meet in the first round of the BCHL playoffs, and each were eager to show what they could do physically in the opening twenty minutes.
West Kelowna brought the phenomenal crowd to its collective feet as Kylar Hope scored on the power play to give the Warriors a lead halfway through the first.
Scott Allan made it 2-0 before the clock expired in the opening frame, gloving down a clearing attempt, make sweet little moves and going upstairs on Brandon Kegler to widen the lead.
There would be no scoring in the middle period, but there wasn’t a lack of excitement. The Silverbacks threw 18 shots at Matthew Greenfield in the stanza, but it was the penalties that had everybody talking.
68 penalty minutes were handed out in the second, including five misconducts. Three of those misconducts stemmed from an incident between the benches, as a Warrior was grabbed from the Silverbacks bench. As the linesman rushed to break up the four player scrum, coaches on both sides were trying to get their players back on the bench.
In the third, the Warriors scored three in rapid succession (4:18) including a pair on the man advantage, and one on a penalty shot.
Quin Foreman placed a great shot past Kegler from the circle to make it 3-0, before Brett Mennear was hauled down on a breakaway.
Mennear made no mistake with a shot to the top corner, as a frenzied crowed was highly entertained by the 4-0 lead.
Liam Blackburn made it 5-0 at 9:02 with a power-play goal, his 26th of the season for #26.
While Salmon Arm ruined Matthew Greenfield’s shutout bid with a power-play goal of their own, Greenfield was solid throughout the night, making 37 saves and earning first star honours. He would give way to Keelan Williams for the final seven minutes and change.
Blackburn’s second of the night finalized the scoresheet.
After the game, which almost touched the three-hour mark, the Warriors held their Awards Ceremony on-ice. Among the big winners were Team MVP Kylar Hope, Best All-Around Player Liam Blackburn, and Rookie of the Year Jake Harrison. Top Defenseman honours were shared by Nick Rutigliano and Rylan Yaremko.
Kyle Marino picked up the Chaplaincy Award to go along with his Fan Favourite, and Heart & Soul nods, while Tyler Anderson was named Most Improved and picked up the Community-Minded player award.
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