A rough and violent affair saw the West Kelowna Warriors prevail 4-2 against Salmon Arm at the Shaw Centre, on Wednesday evening.
The Silverbacks peppered the Warriors starting netminder, Trevor Martin with 16 shots in the first frame but they failed to capitalize on any quality scoring chances.
Stephen Kleysen, of the Warriors hauled down Elijiah Barriga on a breakaway impeding his chance at a fair shot, giving the ‘Backs the chance to take the lead on a penalty shot.
Martin stood his ground and made the save as Barriga tried to beat him with a snap shot from the slot.
On the other side of the ice Trevin Kozlowski made his second start in a row, and looked solid through the first 20 minutes making nine saves.
“I didn’t think we played a good first 20 minutes, but we hung in there and got a few lucky bounces our way,” said Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster.
The subdued first half of the game quickly took a turn when Landon Fuller was sent off for a check to the head on Jake Harrison, who did not return to the game.
Braiden Epp scored on the ensuing powerplay for the Warriors, on a rebound after a shot from the point, giving them a one goal lead.
The rough play escalated and the clubs traded five-on-three’s, as the referees called a tight game.
Salmon Arm answered back quickly, on a delayed penalty with a blast from the point by Jake Heerspink, his second of the campaign.
Returning to the lineup after being sidelined for six weeks with a shoulder injury, Carter Cochrane made an impact, scoring a powerplay goal, and putting the ‘Backs up by one.
“It was really exciting to contribute on the scoresheet after being out for a while, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough,” said Cochrane.
A little over a minute after Cochrane’s marker, Matthew Campese leveled the score for the visitors just after killing off a penalty.
The rough play hit its climax at the end of the second period after a West Kelowna scoring chance.
A punch was thrown and a brawl ensued between the 10 players gathered around the mouth of the Salmon Arm net.
The refs and linesmen struggled to keep order as multiple fights broke out and Epp started spearing a defenseless Kozlowski in his own net.
The ‘Backs goaltender turned on Epp and threw him to the ice as two other fights continued.
Blood was spilled and sticks and helmets littered the ice after the melee. After the dust was settled Josh Blanchard, Spencer Hora, Parm Dhaliwal and Epp were handed game misconducts.
The league will likely review the actions on ice and may hand out further suspensions.
“What’s done is done. There is nothing we can do about it now, it’s out of our control,” said Silverbacks head coach Brandon West, in response to the second period melee.
Both sides returned to the ice composed for the start of the third.
“It was all about refocusing and trying to get the job done on the scoreboard,” said West, about the message to his side in the second intermission.
Both sides traded chances and Martin continually shut down the ‘Backs attempts as he made 39 saves.
“We didn’t capitalize on our chances– plain and simple. I thought we gave a full 60 minute effort tonight, but costly mistakes ended up in the back of our net and cost us the game,” said West.
Ultimately two goals by Quin Foreman would put the game out of reach for the Silverbacks, as they picked up their third loss in a row and West Kelowna earned their third straight win.
“We knew we would be missing a few players after the second and we would have to use a shorter bench. That meant players stepping up into different roles,” said Ferster. “I thought the game could have gone either way, Salmon Arm played a solid game, Martin really stepped up for us tonight.”
The Silverbacks will look to regroup before Friday’s contest with Penticton at the Shaw Centre.
“We have to be better composed. Now is the time of the season where we need to start manning up and that starts with us older guys,” Cochrane said. “I think there are some positive things we can build off of from tonight’s game moving forward.”