West Kelowna Warriors finish off Cranbrook in seven games

Warriors off to Round 2

The West Kelowna Warriors played their best 60 minutes of the season when they needed it most, surviving game seven in a dominant 5-1 win over the Cranbrook Bucks before more than 1,400 fans at Royal LePage Place Tuesday.

The Warriors checked the Bucks into the ice from the opening puck drop to the final whistle, attacking the puck whenever a Cranbrook player gained possession and taking away their time and space in all the zones.

They were especially effective in the neutral zone, preventing the Bucks from utilizing their speedy transition game and, when the Warriors gained the offensive zone, forechecked the puck at every opportunity.

Except for a sloppy power play late in the game that led to Cranbrook's lone goal, it was as close to the perfect game as you could get.

"The guys bought in, played the right way the entire time and got the results for it," said head coach Simon Ferguson.

"We stuck to the game plan, put the puck in their zone and then forechecked.

"We recovered on forechecks and I loved the energy our guys brought. They've been working hard on their off-ice conditioning all season and it paid off tonight."

It was hard to single out one player when everyone was going but it was also hard to miss 16-year-old Dylan Krayer who seemed to make something happen almost every time he was on the ice.

His seeing-eye pass to linemate Brennan Nelson for the first goal at 19:41 of the opening period was a thing of beauty.

"It was an unbelievable pass. He's going to be a real player.

"Then credit to Nelly, he's battled some injuries and to get us on the board, that's what you need your captain to do."

The goal came at the end of a period in which the Warriors carried the entire play outshooting the Bucks 21-5 but, until Nelson's backdoor one-timer, they had nothing to show for it.

Viggo Nørdstrom made it 2-0 on a power play just past the midway point of the second banging home a one-time from the right circle.

Krayer got one of his own to up the lead to three, cutting to the centre of the ice before sending a shot to the far post giving Carter Capton no chance in the Bucks net.

"(Carter) Oakenfold made a great play on the wall and tossed it to me. I went down and couldn't tell if it was a two-on-two or three-on-two," said Krayer of the goal.

"There guy was coming in late so I saw some space and went to the middle. I looked to see if Nelson was backdoor but he was going to the net so I ripped it far side, saw some open net and luckily it went in."

Felix Caron early in the third and Jackson Kyrkostas into an empty net closed out the scoring for the Warriors.

West Kelowna outshot the Bucks 38-19 over the course of the evening.

The win avoided a colossal collapse for the Warriors who led the series 3-0 before watching the Bucks reel off three straight of their own to force Tuesday's winner-take-all game seven.

The Victoria Grizzlies were the last team to pull off that rare comeback losing the first three to Alberni before coming back to win the next four in 2018.

The Warriors will now face the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the Interior Conference semi finals.

That series opens up with games one and two Friday and Saturday at Royal LePage Place.

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