Mike Hardman carries the puck in the Warriors win over Merritt Friday night. Photo: Jack Murray

West Kelowna Warriors win in Merritt, snap five game losing streak

The Warriors beat the Merritt Centennials 4-3 in overtime

After a tough five game stretch, the West Kelowna Warriors got their first win of the new year with a tight 4-3 overtime win over the Merritt Centennials Friday night.

Warriors’ Mike Hardman was the overtime hero, and first star of the game as the Warriors get a win in their first of two games this weekend. The Warriors return to home ice to host the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Saturday night.

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The Warriors got off to another fantastic start with one of their defenders getting on the score sheet. Lucas Cullen and Parm Dhaliwal drove to the Centennials net with a deflection going back to the point. That’s where Andrew Viggars was able to rip a shot past Centennials goaltender Austin Roden to make it 1-0 scoring his very first BCHL goal. Viggars would take an after whistle penalty only a couple minutes later allowing the Centennials to strike on the man advantage. Merritt’s Jackson Munro would wire a puck from the point beating Connor Hopkins to tie the game at one.

Second period’s for the Warriors in 2019 have been disastrous, but not Friday night. Head coach and general manager Geoff Grimwood made it clear the team needed a better effort in the second frame against the Centennials and he got it. The Warriors out shot the Centennials 16-7 and scored a pair of goals. The Centennials would push back with Munro getting his second of the game for Merritt, but West Kelowna would hold off their momentum and take a 3-2 lead going into the third period.

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The Warriors needed a strong defensive performance in the final frame. Goaltender Connor Hopkins made numerous stops in late including a great open net chance for the Centennials. Merritt would tie the game at three after another Viggars penalty and gain the momentum as the game headed into overtime. The Warriors were patient on the 3-on-3 overtime maintaining puck possession. Hardman was able to get open and unload a wrist shot top corner past Austin Roden to win the game for the West Kelowna Warriors, their first overtime victory of the season.

The Warriors look for a second straight win to start a new winning streak against the Bulldogs Saturday night.

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