In 2014, no B.C. Hockey League team has been hotter than the West Kelowna Warriors.
As a result, the Warriors are breathing down the neck of the first-place Penticton Vees.
The Warriors, who are 8-0-1 in their last nine games, knocked off the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-3 on Sunday at Royal LePage Place to move to within four points of the Vees atop the Interior Division. West Kelowna has two games in hand.
The Warriors also set two club records in the process on Sunday, running their home unbeaten streak to eight and their overall unbeaten string to nine.
After coming from two goals down to beat Trail on Dec. 30, head coach Rylan Ferster said pretty much everything has been going his club’s way ever since.
“For the most part we’ve been playing a full 60 minutes, and I think since Christmas we’ve been pretty lucky, we’re getting some breaks we weren’t getting in November,” said Ferster.
“We came from two down against Trail with the net empty, and we did the same against Nanaimo a few days later. We’re finally getting some puck luck and that comes from playing hard band sticking with it. The guys are running with it.”
The Warriors roared out to a 5-0 lead on the Bulldogs on Sunday, then let their foot off the gas in the third period to post a 5-3 win.
Jason Cotton scored a pair in the win, while Ben Tegtmeyer had a goal and two assists, as the Warriors outshot the Bulldogs 51-21.
Cody Porter stopped 18 shots in for the win in his first start since Jan. 4.
Head coach Rylan Ferster wasn’t overly pleased with the third period from his club, but is happy with the final result.
“It’s unfortunate we had to give up three there in the third period but we don’t want to critique this too much,” said Ferster. “We’re happy to obviously get the two points at this time of the year.”
As for chasing down the Penticton Vees, Ferster isn’t overly concerned exactly where the Warriors finish, as long as they find their way into the post-season.
“Sure, first would be nice but that’s not really our focus,” he said. “Placing 1 to 4 is more important, because one really good team in our division is going to get left out. First hasn’t been a goal at all, just making sure we’re staying in the race. This is the tightest I’ve ever seen it.”
The Vernon Vipers are just two points back of the Warriors, with Salmon Arm six back in fourth.
The Warriors (26-12-2-2) will hit the road this weekend for games in Victoria Friday, Alberni on Saturday, and in Chilliwack on Sunday.