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GAME RECAP: Warriors Earn 20th Win Of Season In Road Triumph Over Centennials

MERRITT, B.C. – The West Kelowna Warriors became the 5th team in the BC Hockey League to earn 20 wins on the season as they upended the Merritt Centennials by a 6-4 score on Saturday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

The Warriors jumped on the Centennials quickly in the opening period, outshooting Merritt by a 23-8 margin and breaking the ice at the 1:56 mark of the 1st period with Felix Caron notching his 10th marker of the campaign.

Ben MacDonald took a Centennials turnover in the neutral zone and walked down the right side before firing a shot at the face-off circle off the right pad of Merritt goaltender John Hicks with Caron finding the rebound and sliding the puck past the blocker side and just under two minutes into action, the Warriors found themselves ahead.

West Kelowna added to their lead with relentless pressure as Brennan Nelson gave the visitors a 2-0 advantage. Bobby May fired the puck from the left point that went off the blocker side of Hicks before Nelson willed the rebound past the Centennials goaltender for his 8th goal of the season and the Warriors doubled their lead to 2-0 at the 7:26 mark of the opening frame.

Michael Salandra capped off the 1st period scoring, adding his 10th goal of the season to push West Kelowna ahead 3-0. Salandra found the puck off of Caron and outwaited Hicks in front of the goal, delaying from his blocker side before sliding the puck past Hicks on his glove side at the 14:28 mark of the opening frame to push the Warriors to a 3-0 lead after one period.

After a dominating 1st frame, the Warriors saw a different Centennials team in the 2nd period as they erased a 3-0 deficit and began chipping away at the lead at the 4:07 mark of the middle frame with Jonathan Wong tallying his 1st BC Hockey League goal, rushing into the Warriors zone and sneaking a shot from inside the blue line under the blocker of West Kelowna netminder Angelo Zol to cut the Warriors advantage to 3-1.

The Centennials power play helped them to cut the lead to just a goal at the 6:34 mark of the middle stanza as Erik Sollied made it a 3-2 game. The Warriors couldn’t clear the puck from their defensive end as Sollied got the puck at the left point and sent a shot through traffic past the glove side of Zol and forced Merritt within a marker.

Mark Thurston completed the comeback in the 2nd period for the Centennials and tied the game at the 11:11 mark with a shot from the left face-off circle. Connor Farren freed the puck from below the goal line and set up Thurston, who beat Zol between the legs and evened the score.

John Hicks was once again a big factor in the 2nd period, after facing 23 shots in the opening frame and saw 18 shots on goal in the middle frame where he turned aside each one of them and saved 38 of the 41 attempts at his goal through 40 minutes.

The Warriors were quick to regain their lead courtesy of a last second power play marker from Luke Devlin to give West Kelowna a one-goal advantage. Isaiah Norlin sent a pass to the left face-off circle as Jaiden Moriello couldn’t let a one-time shot go but funneled the puck to the net that slipped past the blocker side of Hicks where Devlin pushed it across the goal line for his 7th goal of the season and a 4-3 Warriors lead just 1:18 into the final period of play.

Another power play helped West Kelowna get their lead to a pair of goals as Ben MacDonald notched his 13th goal of the season. Norlin set up a pass for MacDonald at the left point as he snapped a wrist shot past the glove side of Hicks at the 9:06 mark of the 3rd period and pushed West Kelowna ahead by a 5-3 score.

The Centennials continued to not go away quietly and got within a goal once again as Thurston buried his second goal of the game. Taking a pass at the Warriors blue line, Thurston came in on a breakaway and beat Zol past the glove side at the 11:22 mark of the final period and made it a one-goal game at 5-4.

Merritt pulled their goaltender with just over a minute and a half remaining before Moriello collected his team-leading 19th goal of the season, knocking down a Merritt pass in the neutral zone and backhanded the puck into the empty goal with 57 seconds remaining to give the Warriors a 6-4 edge.

The Warriors finished the game with 56 shots, the second most in franchise history in a non-overtime game and pushed the most shots on goal they have ever had in a road game.

Angelo Zol turned aside 20 of the 24 shots thrown his way in his 5th win of the season while John Hicks made 50 saves on the 55 shots he faced in the Centennials net in his 8th loss of the season.

FINAL SCORE: 6-4 Warriors

SHOTS ON GOAL: 56-24 Warriors




1) Ben MacDonald (1-1-2)

2) Mark Thurston (2-0-2)

3) Jonathan Wong (1-0-1)

Fortis Energy Player of the Game: John Hicks (50 saves on 55 shots)

Attendance: 718

The Warriors (20-10-4-0) will return to action in 10 days following the BCHL’s All-Star break and host the Centennials (10-22-3-1) on Wednesday, January 25th at Royal LePage Place on Warriors Wednesday. Fans will receive a free noise maker at the game with puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with tickets available at