PHOTO: Tami Quan
WEST KELOWNA, B.C. – The West Kelowna Warriors got three points from Felix Caron but could not overcome a late lead change as they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Merritt Centennials on Tuesday night in front of a sell-out crowd at Royal LePage Place.
A physical start saw both teams laying the body with plenty of hits for each side but it was the Centennials who had the advantage when it came to the score as two goals in the opening period including a power play goal from Easton Ryan to give Merritt a 1-0 advantage in the final five minutes of the period.
Ryan gathered the puck in the neutral zone and came into the offensive end down the right wing before letting a shot go from the top of the right face-off circle that eluded the glove hand of Warriors goaltender Justin Katz at the 15:46 mark to give the visitors a 1-0 edge on the power play.
The Centennials added to their lead before the period came to an end with Dylan Lariviere giving Merritt a 2-0 lead with two minutes remaining in the period. Michael Felsing tried to whack the puck in from the side of the net before the puck came in front and Lariviere popped it through the legs of Katz to give Merritt a 2-0 advantage heading into the 2nd period.
Felix Caron took over for the Warriors in the middle stanza as he tallied both the goals that got West Kelowna back into the game, beginning with a shorthanded strike just 1:23 into the 2nd period.
Brennan Nelson knocked a Centennial forward off the puck at the blue line and raced down the left wing on a 2-on-0 chance before passing to Caron, who finished the opportunity over the glove side of Merritt goaltender Beau Lane for his team-leading 12th goal of the season and cut the deficit to one marker.
Caron was at it again later in the period, a frame in which the Warriors outshot the Centennials by a 20-11 margin, to get the game tied. While up a man on the power play, Caron one-timed a pass from Isaiah Norlin at the left point to lift over the shoulders of Lane for his second goal of the period and a 2-2 score heading into the final frame.
Once again, West Kelowna had the better of the play, holding a 13-5 shot advantage in the period and took their first lead of the contest at the 1:44 mark of the 3rd period as Jack Pridham put the Warriors on top. Pridham got to the left face-off circle and powered a shot through the glove side of Lane for his 7th goal of the season and gave West Kelowna a 3-2 lead.
The lead remained until the 11:11 point of the period as Tyler Wishart powered Merritt back to an even score, cutting through the middle of the ice before lifting a shot over the shoulders of Katz to tie the game before Michael Stenburg gave the Centennials the lead again at the 15:44 as he battled for a puck at the front of the net to beat Katz.
The Warriors pulled their goaltender with just over two and a half minutes remaining in the game but could not find the equalizer. Justin Katz turned aside 26 of the 30 shots thrown his way in his 2nd loss of the season while Beau Lane made 41 saves on 44 shots in his 1st win of the season.
FINAL SCORE: 4-3 Centennials
SHOTS ON GOAL: 44-30 Warriors
WARRIORS PP: 1/3
WARRIORS PK: 2/3
1) Felix Caron (2-1-3)
2) Beau Lane (41 saves on 44 shots)
3) Michael Stenburg (1-0-1)
Fortis Energy Player of the Game: Jack Pridham (1-0-1)
West Kelowna (10-6-2-0) have a rare weekend off as they will be back in action on Wednesday, November 22nd when they host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (10-5-0-0) at Royal LePage Place. Tickets are available for purchase on the Warriors website as well as in-person at the Warriors Office and Box Office.