MERRITT, B.C. – The West Kelowna Warriors used a pair of goals from both Cal Hughes and Simon Houge to come away with a 5-2 exhibition victory over the Merritt Centennials on Saturday night from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
Just as they did on Friday night, the Warriors got the scoring going and had their first two goals of the game come from the same source, this time it was Cal Hughes and he scored just 16 seconds apart to give West Kelowna a lead in the opening frame.
Hughes first marker came at the 3:25 mark of the opening period, taking a feed from Jack Pridham and depositing the puck on the blocker side after a strong net drive to help the Warriors to an opening 1-0 advantage.
Only 16 seconds after that, it was Hughes once again who would put the Warriors ahead by a pair of goals with help from Felix Caron and Pridham. Pridham jarred the puck loose behind the net as Caron took the feed and throw a pass in front where Hughes wristed a shot from his knees to beat Centennials goaltender Andrew Ballantyne for his second goal of the period and a 2-0 West Kelowna lead.
The Warriors concluded the scoring on their opening period with defender Simon Houge helping the visitors to a 3-0 edge. Michael Salandra fed a puck to the slot where Ben Henshall had it poked off his stick at the top of the crease before Houge followed up and beat Ballantyne on the glove side at the 16:04 mark of the opening period for a 3-0 lead.
The Centennials battled their way back as Jacob Smith gave Merritt their first goal of the game just 49 seconds into the middle frame as he banked a puck off of the blocker side of Warriors goaltender Matthew DellaRusso, which was most of the action in the opening part of the period.
The teams swapped goals later in the frame as Logan Flint restored the Warriors three-goal lead, collecting a rebound in front of the net on a Frédéric Deschênes shot from the blue line and worked it through the legs of Ballantyne at the 18:33 mark to push the Warriors ahead by a 4-1 margin.
Latvian native Martins Kruklitis squeaked in a goal before the buzzer, scoring with 6 seconds remaining in the period on a blue line shot for the Centennials that got past the glove side of DellaRusso to make the score 4-2 heading into the final period of regulation play.
Simon Houge added his second goal of the game with one minute to go in the final period, banking the puck off the glass and down into an empty net as the Warriors iced a 5-2 victory in Merritt.
Matthew DellaRusso turned aside 19 of the 21 shots thrown his way in his 1st preseason win while Andrew Ballantyne turned aside 26 of the 30 shots thrown his way in the Merritt net.
FINAL SCORE: 5-2 Warriors
SHOTS ON GOAL: 40-21 Centennials
WARRIORS PP: 0/3
WARRIORS PK: 0/0
The Warriors hit home ice for their first and only exhibition game at Royal LePage Place as they will match-up against the Vernon Vipers on Friday night. Tickets are just $10 and will go on sale on Monday morning for the game while children 12 and under receive free admission. All tickets will be classified as general admission with puck drop slated for 7:00 PM.