The West Kelowna Warriors will enter the B.C. Hockey League playoffs as the league’s hottest team.
The Warriors closed out their regular season Saturday, March 26, at home, winning their 10th straight game, 7-2 over the Merritt Centennials on Fan Appreciation Night at Royal LePage Place.
The Centennials have lost 12 straight heading into Sunday’s league finale in Penticton against the Vees. Merritt and the Powell River Kings are the two teams missing the post-season party.
West Kelowna hasn’t lost in nearly a month. Their last defeat came March 2 in Wenatchee, a 3-1 loss to the Wild.
The game started out hot for the Warriors with Captain Elan Bar Lev Wise opening the scoring with his 22nd of the year to make it 1-0. The Cents would answer back with Connor Farren finding Ashton Taylor to tie it up at one heading into the second period.
Bar Lev Wise would score his second of the night on the powerplay to restore the lead for the Warriors. Warriors starting goaltender and affiliated player (AP) call-up Angelo Zol would make several big stops to keep it 2-1 Warriors heading into the third period.
The third frame was all about the AP call-ups.
First after the Warriors were able to kill a penalty, forward Kailus Green would find Cam Hicklin who would score off a breakaway to make it 3-1. Less than a minute later Marcus Joughin would tip a Dylan Brooks point shot fed by Max Sanford to make it 4-1.
The Cents would make it interesting with Levi Carter cutting the lead in half to make it 4-2 with 13 minutes remaining, but the Warriors would control play the rest of the way getting goals from Riley Sharun off a Brennan Nelson pass, Max Sanford from a Alex Ochitwa pass and then Tyson Jugnauth would cap things off with his ninth of the year to make it 7-2.
Jugnauth’s goal tied him with Justin Schultz of the NHL’s Washington Capitals for second-most points by a Warriors defenceman in a single season.
Zol finished with 27 saves for West Kelowna.
The Warriors are back in action Friday, April 1, when they host the Vernon Vipers for Game 1 of their best-of-seven first-round Interior Conference quarterfinal. Game time will be 7 p.m.
• After the game, it was awards time as the club handed out its hardware for the 2021-22 season.
Winners included (in BOLD – presenters in parentheses):
-Most Improved: Brennan Nelson (Simon Ferguson);
-Top Scoring Defenceman: Tyson Jugnauth (Ayrton Nikkel);
-Top Defensive Defenceman: Charles-Alexis Legault (Josh Gorges);
-Academic Award: Zach Reim (Ayrton Nikkel);
-Gary Brown Sr Award (Fan of the Year): Vicki Kavanagh (haron Brown/Chris Laurie);
-Top Scoring Forward: Felix Trudeau (Simon Ferguson);
-Top Defensive Forward: Chase Dafoe (Josh Gorges);
-Volunteer of the Year: Lisa Weir (Chris Laurie);
-Fan Favorite: Felix Trudeau (Chase Johnston);
-Rookie of the year: Alexi Van Houtte-Cachero (Josh Gorges);
-Community-minded Player: Damon Jugnauth (Chris Laurie);
-Chaplaincy Program Award: Chase Dafoe (Don Richmond);
-Heart and Soul Award: Pat Lawn/ Elan Bar-Lev-Wise (2 different plaques) (Ayrton Nikkel);
-RH Dedication Award: Nick Ardanaz (Rod Hume);
-Corporate Partner of the Year: Total Restoration (Chase Johnston);
-MVP: Tyler Rubin/ Felix Trudeau (2 different plaques) (Simon Ferguson);
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