DUNCAN, B.C. – The West Kelowna Warriors opened up their three-game weekend with a last-minute winner by Ryan Steele to help them to a 3-1 victory over the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Friday night at the Island Savings Centre.
The game started on a strong note for the visitors as the Warriors opened the scoring in the game at the 1:30 mark as Matt Kowalski found the back of the net for the first time in his last 12 games. Jared Marino had his left-wing face-off circle shot stopped by the left pad of Capitals netminder Michael Corson but the rebound bounced out to Kowalski in the slot as he directed the puck past the blocker side for his 6th goal of the season and a 1-0 Warriors lead.
The Kowalski tally would be the only goal in the 1st period as the Warriors headed to the dressing room with a one-goal lead. Warriors goaltender Nik Amundrud had a strong opening period with 12 saves on each of the 12 shots he faced in the frame while Michael Corson turned aside 12 of the 13 1st period shots he faced.
The Capitals turned up the pressure in the 2nd period and found the back of the net at the 4:56 mark on a nifty redirection at the side of the net. The Warriors were unable to clear the puck from their own zone as Tate Coughlin spun from the left point and spotted an open Brendan Cherwalk going to the net as he redirected the puck past Amundrud for a 1-1 tie.
The low scoring affair continued into the 3rd period with the Capitals outshooting the Warriors by a 29-28 margin before Michael Corson made a great save on Jake Harrison about halfway through the final period.
Chase Dubois took a Parm Dhaliwal pass at the blocker side post and fed the puck in front for a one-timing attempt from Harrison in the right face-off circle but Corson got across and made a dazzling glove hand stop to keep the game knotted at one.
The Warriors did crack Corson for a second time with just 56 seconds remaining in regulation off of a jam play on the blocker side. Dhaliwal tried to jam the puck past the blocker side of Corson as he protected his right side with his stick to the ice but the puck found its way to Ryan Steele in at the bottom of the right face-off circle and his backhand beat Corson for his 16th goal of the season and a 2-1 Warriors advantage.
West Kelowna capped off their 26th victory of the season with an empty net tally from Cavin Tilsley with a pass from the corner off the stick of RJ Murphy as Tilsley scored his 8th goal of the season and made the final 3-1 in favour of the Warriors.
Nik Amundrud was outstanding in the Warriors crease with 31 saves on 32 shots for his 15th win of the season while Michael Corson stopped 32 of the 34 shots he faced in the game in his 5th loss of the season.
FINAL SCORE: 3-1 Warriors