The West Kelowna Warriors’ BCHL season hangs by a thread.
Rylan Ferster’s club faces elimination from the 2018 postseason following a 4-0 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters Monday at Royal LePage Place.
Trail now leads the best-of-seven first-round Interior Division series 3-0, with Game 4 set for tonight in West Kelowna. Face off is 7 p.m.
The Warriors and Smoke Eaters traded chances in the game’s first 15 minutes of play but it was the visitors that opened the scoring at the 15:15 mark. A shot from the right half boards off the stick of Trail defender Troy Ring bounced off a body in front of the goal and snuck past Warriors goaltender Nik Amundrud for a 1-0 Trail lead.
The Ring marker was the only goal of the first period as both goaltenders stood tall and didn’t allow much behind them. Amundrud made 10 saves on 11 shots including a big glove save on Levi Glasman in the game’s opening moments while Smoke Eaters netminder Adam Marcoux turned aside each and every one of the 8 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes.
The 2nd period had a similar feel to the 1st frame as both teams continued to trade chances with the Smoke Eaters ahead by a goal. In what was possibly the best chance of the game for the Warriors to score, Jared Marino busted down the middle of the ice with a long shot that was steered aside by Marcoux with Marino getting to his own rebound and tucking the puck through the legs of the Trail goaltender but just wide of the net.
That play was immediately followed by the Smoke Eaters drawing a penalty and just six seconds into the man advantage, Trail struck for a two-goal lead at the 16:24 mark. Connor Welsh got a pass at the left point from Seth Barton and pushed a shot on goal that redirected off of the left thigh of Tyler Ghirardosi and past the glove side of Amundrud for his second goal of the series and a 2-0 Trail lead.
It was again a period in which the goaltenders reigned supreme as Amundrud stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced in the period and Marcoux continued his excellence in net with 13 saves on 13 shots in the frame, including a big left pad save on Michael Lombardi from the left face-off circle.
The Smoke Eaters adding to their lead at the 4:02 mark of the 3rd period coming courtesy of Spencer McLean’s second goal of the series. McLean spun out of the right corner and worked his way to the front of the net before sliding the puck through the legs of Amundrud to push the Trail lead to 3-0.
The scoring was capped off by an empty net goal at the 15:43 mark of the final period as the Warriors pulled their goaltender looking to put a jolt into the offence. A pass from the left point was picked off by Ross Armour who tipped the puck ahead for a skating Kale Howarth as he sped past the Warriors defense and hit the back of the empty goal for his third goal of the series and icing a 4-0 Smoke Eaters victory.
Nik Amundrud stopped 33 of the 36 shots he faced in the game in his third loss of the series while Adam Marcoux earned his first shutout of the postseason, making 30 saves for his 3rd win of the series.
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