WEST KELOWNA, B.C. – A highlight reel goal from Matt Kowalski kick started the West Kelowna Warriors offence in a 3-1 victory over the Merritt Centennials on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place.
The Warriors needed a bounce back effort after their home opening loss one week ago and got that in a big way and opened the scoring in highlight reel fashion as Matt Kowalski scored a goal that many will see over and over again.
The 18-year-old forward took the puck behind the Merritt goal and lifted it up on his stick in a lacrosse style and deposited the puck over the shoulder of netminder Vincent Duplessis for a goal of the year candidate and a 1-0 Warriors lead at the 10:30 mark of the opening period.
The Warriors came back with another wave of pressure soon after as just 1:03 later, Cavin Tilsley centered from the side of the goal for Jared Marino and the captain made no mistake, beating Duplessis on the glove side for the 2-0 Warriors lead at the 11:33 mark of the 1st frame.
The Merritt goaltender was outstanding all night and was maybe his best in the opening period, making 13 saves on 15 shots while Warriors goaltender Cole Demers held his own as well, making 11 saves on all 11 shots he faced in the opening stanza of play.
The Warriors tallied the lone goal in the 2nd period and came courtesy of a beautiful play from Chase Dubois as he faked out the defense with a nifty toe drag in the left face-off circle before firing a shot at the right pad of Duplessis, who kicked out the rebound to a rushing Chase Stevenson. The Warriors forward banged the puck home for a 3-0 advantage for the home side at the 5:38 mark of the 2nd period.
Again, it was Demers who was outstanding in the crease, turning aside all 6 shots he faced in the period while Duplessis stopped 9 of the 10 shots thrown his way in the middle stanza.
The 3rd period was played scoreless for about 18 minutes before the Centennials broke the goose egg courtesy of Jack Vincent after he followed the bouncing puck and beat Demers on his glove side with just 1:32 remaining in the game, breaking the shutout bid for the 18-year-old netminder but was able to preserve a 3-1 victory for the Warriors.
Cole Demers was terrific in the Warriors goal, stopping 32 of the 33 shots he faced for his first win of the season while Vincent Duplessis turned aside 33 of the 36 shots that came his way for his first loss in his first BCHL start.