PHOTO: Tami Quan

The West Kelowna Warriors used a 33-save effort from Justin Katz to earn their fifth win in a row and hand the Surrey Eagles their first loss of the season in a 4-2 victory on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place.


Both teams possess many offensive weapons but it was the defense on display before the Eagles were first to strike and came from Jake Bongo to push the visitors ahead by a goal. Ross Roloson sent a pass to the right wing side where Bongo walked into the left wing face-off circle and snapped a shot over the glove side of Warriors netminder Justin Katz at the 7:03 mark of the opening period to give the Eagles a one-goal edge.


West Kelowna pushed their way back in the game and came from a usual spot on the blue line as Matt Fusco earned his 5th goal of the season. After the puck came out to the neutral zone, Fusco skated down the left wing and got around a Surrey defender to cut to the net and was stopped on his first shot by Eagles goaltender Eli Pulver with Fusco sticking with it and burying the rebound at the 14:01 mark of the opening period to even the score heading into the 2nd period.


The Warriors started to get into the rhythm of their game in the middle frame and scored two goals in quick succession to get their first leads of the game. Felix Caron started the scoring in the 2nd period at the 12:10 mark with a deflection off a Rylee Hlusiak pass from the left wing for his 5th goal of the season to give the Warriors a 2-1 lead.


1:14 later, it was Brennan Nelson who put the Warriors ahead by a pair of markers with his 3rd goal of the campaign. Michael Salandra made a move at the top of the right face-off circle and slid a pass to the middle with Nelson backhanding a shot through traffic and past Pulver at the 13:24 mark to give the Warriors a 3-1 lead.


Katz remained strong in between the pipes for the Warriors, following a 34-save effort a night ago in Wenatchee, and turned aside 22 of the 23 shots thrown his way through 40 minutes to help West Kelowna to a two-goal lead into the 3rd frame.


The Eagles received three power plays in the final period of play and the league’s top power play made the Warriors pay at the 11:45 mark of the 3rd as Bongo earned his second goal of the game. Bongo got the puck in the right face-off circle and fired a shot through the legs of Katz to get the Eagles back within a goal heading down the stretch of the game.


The Warriors penalty kill came through again for the second straight night as a late power play for the Eagles was thwarted off by the Warriors PK and helped by Surrey taking themselves off the power play with one minute remaining.

Jaiden Moriello capped off the scoring at the end of the game with one second left on the clock with his team-leading 6th goal of the season, finding the empty net from centre ice on the power play off an Eagle defenders stick and pushed the Warriors to a 4-2 final score.


Justin Katz, for a second straight night, was excellent in goal as he made 33 saves on 35 shots to earn his 7th win of the season while Eli Pulver suffered his first loss of the season, making 19 saves on 22 shots in the defeat.