Warriors lose two players to injury in Wednesday's 4-3 shootout win over Merritt

Costly win for Warriors

Rylee Hlusiak scored the only goal of the shootout Wednesday night as the West Kelowna Warriors stormed back for a 4-3 shootout win over the visiting Merritt Centennials Wednesday.

But, the win came at a cost.

Already without the services of defencemen Matt Fusco and Nolan Hayes to injury, 19-year-old blueliner Dylan Brooks needed to be helped off the ice with what appeared to be a leg injury after he was hit hard in front of the Warriors bench just seven seconds into the third period.

He did not return.

Warriors head coach Simon Ferguson was unable to update his condition after the game except to say it was a lower body injury.

Forward Chris Duclair also left in the third period. Ferguson says he's day-to-day with an upper body injury.

As for the game itself, the Warriors looked like a team shaking off the rust after a long 10-day layoff because of the league's all-star weekend in Penticton.

It took them a while to get rolling and, when they did, they found themselves in a 3-0 hole.

"I thought (Merritt) played well. I didn't think we had a lot of buzz a lot of energy in the first little bit of the first and the first bit of the second," said Ferguson.

"Obviously they got up and built a pretty good lead, but credit to the guys for coming back."

The Centennials led 1-0 after one on a strange goal nine minutes into the game.

Christian Lowe's initial shot on a breakaway sailed well high and bounced off the end glass. The puck caromed toward the net where Jaxson Murray was waiting to bunt it past a startled Justin Katz.

The Centennials increased the lead to three before the midway point of the second.

Ryan Spinale off the rush from the right faceoff circle then Murray again from the same spot on a power play beat Katz, spelling the end to his night after allowing three goals on just 13 shots.

Cayden Hamming came in and shut the door the rest of the way, giving the offence a chance to get back into it.

Just over a minute later they capitalized. Noah Laframboise beat Johnny Hicks with a blast from the point for his first BC Hockey League goal.

The Warriors took over the game from there.

Ben MacDonald cut the deficit to one deflecting Brooks' shot from the point. The officials huddled together to talk about the goal but determined MacDonald did not hit the puck with a high stick.

The officials again were called upon to discuss what turned out to be the game tying goal at 19:03 of the second.

Hicks argued Kailus Green, stationed at the top of the crease, interfered with his when a point shot from Aiden Reeves deflected off Green and past Hicks.

Despite the protests, that goal was also allowed to stand.

A cautious third period was scoreless setting the stage for a dramatic overtime.

While neither team was able to score, both iron on successive rushes. Brennan Nelson hit the cross bar seconds after Merritt clanged one off the post at the other end.

MacDonald had a great chance to win it, but Hicks stoned him on a clear breakaway.

Overtime solved nothing paving the way for the shootout.

After the first five shooters were stopped, Hlusiak stepped up with the game on his stick and made no mistake.

Hlusiak deked to the forehand, cut across the slot and beat Hicks from a sharp angle to earn the Warriors the extra point.

The win was the Warriors fifth in a row, and moves them to within three points of idle Cranbrook in the battle for second in the Interior Division.

The Warriors now hit the road for seven in a row, beginning Friday night in Cranbrook. They'll travel to Salmon Arm Saturday.

Just who will be wearing the jersey's will be determined over the course of the next 24 to 48 hours.

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