Photo: Julie Pringle/Snap Photography

West Kelowna Warriors win, lead playoffs series 3-2

The Warriors overcame a slow start and beat the Wenatchee Wild 4-2 Friday night

The West Kelowna Warriors beat the Wenatchee Wild 4-2 Friday night to take a 3-2 series lead in the first round of the BCHL playoffs.

With leading scorer Mike Hardman out with a concussion, the Warriors players needed to step up. Coach Brandon West said the Warriors fought hard, but none played better than goalie Connor Hopkins who stopped 39 of 41 shots.

“He was spectacular once again, we want to give him that run support,” said West. “We scored four goals against a real good defensive team, and we need to make sure we limit those grade A chances, but when he had to make the grade A (saves), he made those.”

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The Warriors were caught on their heels to start the game as the Wild got off to a 1-0 lead only a minute into the game. A consistent attack and fore-check got the Warriors back in game when Worth tied it up for the Warriors with just three minutes left in the period. The Warriors were out-shot 12-8 in the first frame, but Hopkins had settled in after the early goal.

West Kelowna was again out-shot in the second period, this time 16-6, but the period belonged to the Warriors as the consistent offence and fore-checking from West Kelowna lead to the 2-1 go ahead goal scored by Bennet Norlin. Wenatchee would push and get their chances in the period, but Hopkins was not beat again.

The Warriors’ Lucas Cullen notched his fifth of the playoffs when he snuck a lucky shot on goal that went off Wild goalie Cal Sandquist’s skate to give the Warriors a 3-1 lead. Parm Dhaliwal added another Warriors goal on the power play with less than five minutes to play in the third period for an extra insurance goal.

The Warriors were out-shot 41-23, but come away with a big-time win and now lead the best of seven game series 3-2.

The series moves back to Wenatchee for game six March 10.

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