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BCHL  

West Kelowna run winning streak to four with 7-1 win over Merritt

Warriors hammer Merritt

It was a record-breaking afternoon for the West Kelowna Warriors at Royal LePage Place Sunday.

The Warriors established a franchise record with their eighth straight win on home ice - a 7-1 thumping of the undermanned Merritt Centennials.

The previous record of seven was established between Dec. 9, 2016 and Jan. 15, 2017.

The Warriors had to work for this one against a Merritt team missing seven regulars due to injury and starting a goaltender making his BCHL debut.

Clinging to a 2-1 lead late in the second period, the Warriors erupted for three goals in a span of two minutes and 11 seconds to built a commanding four goal lead.

They put it away with another flurry in the third, scoring twice in 31 seconds.

"A little bit of feeling it out for both sides I thought," said head coach Simon Ferguson of the slow start.

"A 2:30 start Sunday, they're tired, we're seeing what we can get away with probably. I thought we stuck to it and got the goals when we needed to."

Nathan Preston, making his first BCHL start was the story early, turning away shot after shot as the Warriors dominated the territorial play for much of the game.

Chris Duclair with two goals and an assist and linemate Brennan Nelson with a goal and three assists paced the Warriors attack.

Duclair got the Warriors on the board early when his centering pass for Nelson deflected off a Merritt defenders skate past Preston.

The Centennials got that one back midway through the first when Jaxson Murray wired a shot past Cayden Hamming following a sloppy Warriors giveaway. It was the Centennials first shot of the game and one of 14 they managed all game long.

Nic Porchetta snapped a seven-game goalless drought with his 10th banging home a bouncing puck in the crease after Luke Devlin had used his speed and size to crash the left off the left wing.

The Warriors finally solved Preston in the latter stages of the second.

Nelson, on a backdoor tap in notched his 10th and opened the floodgates.

Ben MacDonald with another power move off the left wing made it 4-1 two minutes later, then just 14 second after that, Michael Salandra made it 5-1 from in close.

Rylee Hlusiak and Duclair with his second closed out the scoring midway through the third.

Hamming was rarely tested, turning away 13 shots for perhaps the easiest win of his BCHL career.

The Warriors, winners of four in a row, opened a three point gap on fourth place Salmon Arm and sit five better than fifth place Prince George.

West Kelowna and Prince George have eight games left in the regular season while the Silverbacks have nine left.

The Warriors will have their hands full trying to extend their winning streak when they host the Cranbrook Bucks next Friday night to close out this five game home stand.

The Bucks, second in the Interior Conference, have swept the first three meetings between the two teams - all in Cranbrook.

"This weeks practice is going to be very important.

"How hard we battle, how hard we play, how we know our positions, our structure, everything else."

"I thought we stuck with it pretty well for the 60 minutes. We didn't give up a lot and played the way we needed to."



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