For the first time in their 10-year history, the West Kelowna Warriors have won the Interior Division, holding on for a nail-biting 4-3 win over the Penticton Vees on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place.
In what had been a tight checking, hard-fought series, Game 6 was more of the same, but with more pucks crossing the line than the previous five games.
1,546 fans were brought to their feet by Bryan Basilico at 4:36, as he snapped a loose puck past Vees netminder Zach Driscoll to open the scoring.
Jonathan Desbiens gave the Warriors a two-goal lead on a set face-off play in the left circle, getting the puck from Garrett Forster and sending the rubber to the top shelf.
In the second period, Desbiens scored his second of the night while on the power-play, banking home a wrap-around attempt and giving the Warriors a 3-0 lead.
Vees Nicholas Jones got the Vees on the board in the second period scoring on a two-man advantage, cutting the lead to two goals.
In the final frame, the Warriors Forster was able to score into an empty net to put what looked to be the final spike in the Division title. Not so fast.
The Vees Jones’ and Tyson Jose scored within in 58 seconds of one another to get the team within a goal, before Warriors goalie Matthew Greenfield had some heroics of his own. Jones thought he had a hat-trick goal with just 27 seconds left, but Greenfield stretched across and got his glove on the attempt to keep it 4-3.
Then, with eight seconds left, a long shot was deflected by a Vees player and past Greenfield, and as the Vees thought they had just tied the game, both officials were seen waving it off. After a conference, it was determined a high stick knocked the puck in and the goal was disallowed. West Kelowna killed off the remaining time and picked up the victory.
The West Kelowna Warriors now advance to face the Nanaimo Clippers and Chilliwack Chiefs in the third round, as one team will be eliminated, and two will play for the Fred Page Cup. The format is a home and home round robin, with full details to be released in the coming days. West Kelowna is expected to play Tuesday in Chilliwack, and Thursday at home to Nanaimo.
“The Warriors would like to congratulate the Penticton Vees on a fantastic season including their BCHL Regular Season Title. After such a hard fought series, the Warriors would like to thank the Vees for their well wishes and classy comments following tonight’s game, and wish the graduating players the best of luck moving forward in their hockey careers.” said Warriors coach Rylan Ferster following the game.