MERRITT, B.C. – The West Kelowna Warriors packed a big offensive punch in their opening game of the exhibition schedule, tallying six goals in a 6-3 triumph over the Merritt Centennials on Friday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
Jackson Kyrkostas came ready to play in the Warriors first taste of exhibition action with the opening two goals of the game, beginning with a power play strike just over six minutes into the contest. Kyrkostas took a pass in the right face-off circle from Frédéric Deschênes and rifled a shot over the blocker side of Centennials goaltender Beau Lane at the 6:17 mark of the opening frame to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead.
Kyrkostas doubled the lead with his second of the period on a nice set up from Christian Chouha, who sped down the right wing and cut behind the net before delivering a perfect pass in front of the net on the blocker side of Lane as Kyrkostas swatted the puck in for his second goal of the period at the 10:39 mark of the frame to give West Kelowna a 2-0 edge.
On their third power play of the period, the Warriors were burned by a former teammate as Damon Jugnauth notched a shorthanded marker to get the Centennials within a tally. Jugnauth took the puck away in the neutral zone and came in on a breakaway, lifting the puck past the puck over the blocker side of Angelo Zol in the West Kelowna with just over a minute remaining in the period to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The Warriors pushed their lead back to a pair of goals with Jack Farrell earning the marker. Farrell stepped through the neutral zone and snapped a shot over the glove side of Lane from the left face-off circle at the 9:19 mark of the 2nd to give the Warriors a 3-1 edge.
Three goals in the final 53 seconds of play concluded a wild end to the second period, including the Centennials tying the game with two markers in 24 seconds courtesy of Jace Koenigsmark and Tim Kim to make the score 3-3 before the Warriors squeaked a goal in just under the buzzer to take a one-goal lead into the 3rd period.
The puck was worked from below the goal line back to the front of the net where Caden Kemkaran-Humble had three whacks at the puck at the side of the goal, eventually feeding a pass through the crease and spotted Mikka Kelechian who fired the puck home past new Centennials goaltender Stefan Carney just before the buzzer sounded to finish the 2nd period and give the Warriors a one-goal lead in a wild conclusion on the middle frame.
Local product Noah Weir pushed the Warriors lead to two goals once more, finishing with a quick shot from the left face-off circle. The defender took a pass from below the goal line and snapped a shot past the glove side of the right-handed catching Carney at the 12:00 mark of the final frame to give West Kelowna a 5-3 lead.
Trent Wilson added some insurance for the Warriors in the 3rd period, finishing a rebound off a shot off the rush from Johannes Løkkeberg as he had his initial shot stopped by Carney before Wilson collected the follow up try, dragging around Carney and finishing for the 6-3 Warriors lead at the 13:24 mark while shorthanded.
Angelo Zol turned aside 35 of the 38 shots thrown his way for the pre-season victory for West Kelowna while Merritt split their time in goal, seeing Beau Lane make 6 saves on 9 shots in 30:01 of action before Stefan Carney took the loss, allowing three goals on 13 shots in his 29:59 of play.
FINAL SCORE: 6-3 Warriors
SHOTS ON GOAL: 38-25 Centennials
WARRIORS PP: 1/3
WARRIORS PK: 5/5
The Warriors are back in action for the second consecutive night in the Nicola Valley as they take on the Merritt Centennials in their second of four exhibition games. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena with the game being broadcasted live on Flo Hockey.