Warriors Clinch 5th Place With 2-1 Overtime Win In Merritt

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The West Kelowna Warriors used a 40-save performance from Nik Amundrud and a winning goal from Parm Dhaliwal to earn a 2-1 overtime victory against the Merritt Centennials on Friday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

The Warriors and Centennials played to a scoreless opening frame but it did not come without it’s array of chances as just 15 seconds into the game, Zach Risteau passed for Zach Court at the bottom of the left-wing face-off circle but Warriors goaltender Nik Amundrud got across to make a big stop.

Risteau was at it again about five minutes after the close call as he rang the puck off the post on the blocker side of Amundrud before the Warriors got their best chance to score in the period as Jared Marino skated down a loose puck inside the Merritt zone for a shorthanded breakaway but his shot on the blocker side of Centennials netminder Austin Roden was swatted away.

Amundrud finished the opening period in strong form, turning aside all 10 of the shots he faced in the Warriors crease while Roden wasn’t as busy as his counterpart but made saves on all 6 shots thrown his way in the opening 20 minutes.

Each team was able to find the back of the net once in the middle stanza of the game as it was the Warriors who earned the game’s opening goal at the 7:18 mark of the period on the power play.

Matt Kowalski kicked a loose puck free from his battle on the right boards with Jake Harrison collecting the loose puck and drifting to the middle of the point for a wrist shot that beat Roden up and over his blocker side shoulder and Harrison’s 8th of the season gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead.

The Centennials tied the score in a rather fortunate way as Christian Sabin was credited with the Merritt tally after Garrett Ewert went back in his own zone to play a loose puck and his reverse pass intending to go off the back boards was fanned on and went behind Amundrud for the 1-1 tie on the Warriors own goal.

The shots on goal category saw a spike for Merritt late in the period with a pair of power plays, including a brief 5-on-3 attempt, but Amundrud stood tall with 17 saves on 18 shots in the period and 27 saves overall through 40 minutes. Roden wasn’t as busy in the Merritt crease but did 9 saves on the 10 shots thrown his way in the 2nd period and 15 saves on 16 shots through two periods.

The 3rd period was a defensive saw off with both teams not wanting to make a mistake and not much in the way of chances was had until a late Merritt power play drew some looks on goal but Amundrud continued his stellar play as he thwarted off each of the Centennials opportunities to force overtime.

The game did not take long to end as just 30 seconds into the extra frame, Ryan Steele rushed down the middle of the ice and fed a pass to the right wing for Parm Dhaliwal with his shot from the right face-off circle beating Roden over the glove for his 18th goal of the season and a 2-1 West Kelowna victory in overtime.

Nik Amundrud was excellent in the Warriors goal with 40 saves on 41 shots for his 17th victory of the season while Austin Roden turned aside 26 of the 28 shots he faced for his 11th loss of the season.

FINAL SCORE: 2-1 (OT) Warriors

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