The West Kelowna Warriors fought hard and got two goals from Parm Dhaliwal but couldn’t find an equalizer in a 5-3 loss to the Vernon Vipers on Saturday night from Kal Tire Place.
For the first time in seven games, the Warriors were the first to crack the scoresheet and came courtesy of a gorgeous wrist shot from Parm Dhaliwal, good for his 4th goal of the season. Wyatt Head started the play from behind his own net, wheeling out to the Vipers blue line and leaving the puck for Dhaliwal as he cradled the puck and wired a shot past Viper netminder Anthony Yamnitsky for a 1-0 Warrior advantage at the 7:30 mark of the opening period.
Just 34 seconds after the goal, however, Vernon came back and tied the game at one a piece at the 8:14 mark. Josh Prokop moved into the Warriors zone and was looking to pass to the slot from the left face-off circle but the puck banked off a Warrior defender and back to Prokop as he outwaited Warriors goaltender Cole Demers and tucked in the puck on the blocker side to tie the game.
Vernon jumped out to their first lead of the game that came at the 13:21 mark of the opening stanza as a Tyler Jutting shot cranked off the post leading to a rush the other way. Jimmy Lambert fed a pass on a 2-on-1 for Jordan Sandhu and the Viper forward shot past Demers for a 2-1 Vernon advantage.
The Vipers capped off a three-goal opening period with Prokop tallying his second goal of the game late in the frame. With just 21 seconds remaining in the first period, Michael Young’s point shot was redirected in front of Demers by Prokop that sent Vernon to the dressing room with a 3-1 lead.
West Kelowna got the game within one goal as Dhaliwal followed Prokop’s lead and scored his 2nd goal of the game, this one coming shorthanded. The Warrior forward took a pass from Chase Stevenson down the right-wing and drove to the net past the Viper defense and outwaited Yamnitsky to get the puck past on the blocker side and his shorty cut the deficit to 3-2 at the 13:41 mark of the middle stanza.
Another late period goal pushed the Vipers lead back to two goals as a failed clearing attempt was knocked down at the right point inside of the Warriors zone. Young took the puck and fired a slap shot past the right shoulder of Demers and put Vernon ahead by a 4-2 score with just 14 seconds left in the 2nd period.
The Warriors didn’t back down once more and battled to get the game back to within one on a power play goal. Stephen Kleysen saw his shot from the right face-off circle trickle through Yamnitsky and his 4th goal of the season at the 11:35 mark of the 3rd period made it a 4-3 game.
West Kelowna was rewarded a power play with just over six minutes to go in the game but couldn’t generate many chances and in the last minute and a half, Demers was pulled for an extra attacker but it was the Vipers who struck as Prokop found the empty net with 1:32 to go in the game and cap off a 5-3 Vipers victory.
Cole Demers turned aside 21 of the 25 shots he faced in the game while dropping his 2nd game of the season as 20-year-old Anthony Yamnitsky stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced in the game for his 6th win of the season.