VICTORIA, B.C. – The West Kelowna Warriors opened their Island road trip on the wrong foot as they fell by a 7-3 score to the Victoria Grizzlies on Friday night at The Q Centre
The first period was a wild one that saw seven goals between each side and two goals in a span of six seconds for the Grizzlies early in the opening period. Jamie Rome opened the scoring at the 2:27 mark of the 1st period on a tic-tac-toe passing play between Ethan Nother and Alex Newhook that was capped off by Rome on the backhand to give Victoria a 1-0 lead.
The Grizzlies took a two-goal advantage just six seconds after that off a Dayne Finnson rush down the right wing as he flipped a puck to glove side of Warriors netminder Nik Amundrud and past him for a 2-0 Victoria lead that would lead to a Warriors timeout and a resurgent response from the visitors.
Jared Marino would get the Warriors on the board at the 7:54 mark of the 1st period and extend his point streak to nine games. Wyatt Head took the initial shot that was stopped by Grizzlies goaltender Kurtis Chapman but the rebound was pounced on by Marino for his 17th goal of the season and cut the Grizzlies lead to 2-1 on a power play.
The Warriors evened up the score at the 10:29 mark of the 2nd period courtesy of another power play marker. The puck was shot in behind the Grizzlies net with RJ Murphy pushing the puck to the bottom of the left face-off circle for Stephen Kleysen as he slid the puck through the legs of Chapman for his 6th goal of the season and a tie game at two.
The goals kept coming for the Warriors as they earned their first lead of the game just 51 seconds after the Kleysen goal and stemmed off a great effort from Marino. As he worked his way through the neutral zone and into the Victoria end, the Warriors captain fought through stick checks to get to the left face-off circle to get a pass across to Chase Dubois for the tap-in marker and Dubois’ 16th goal of the season put the Warriors ahead by a 3-2 score and ending Kurtis Chapman’s night as Zach Ross came on in relief.
The goaltending swap seemed to give the Grizzlies some momentum as the Warriors lead did not last long with the Grizzlies tying the game at the 14:10 mark on a power play goal of their own. T.J. Friedmann rushed down the right wing past the Warriors defense and dragged from his forehand to backhand and slid the puck by Amundrud to tie the score at 3-3.
Before the first 20 minutes were out, Victoria took the lead once again at the 17:45 mark of the opening frame with Dayne Finnson being set up in the slot by Friedmann and shot past Amundrud on the blocker side to end a wild 1st period and see the Grizzlies ahead by a 4-3 score.
The 2nd twenty minutes were much tamer than the first with both teams barring down defensively and not much coming in the way of scoring chances for either side. Victoria break the scoreless goose-egg of a 2nd period with just 55 seconds remaining in the frame on a partial breakaway from Justin Michaelian to put Victoria up by a 5-3 score going into the 3rd period.
The Warriors started the 3rd period with lots of pressure including hitting a post but couldn’t get anything past Rose before the Grizzlies turned the other way and scored on an odd man rush that was capped off by Alex Newhook and extended the Grizzlies lead to 6-3 just 1:45 into the 3rd period.
Victoria finished off the scoring in the game at the 6:47 mark of the 3rd period as Cameron Thompson beat a Warriors defender to a loose puck in the West Kelowna zone and shot past the blocker side to give the Grizzlies a 7-3 lead, the eventual final score of the game.
FINAL SCORE: 7-3 Grizzlies