Warriors get a single point in a game they deserved much better

Warriors earn crucial point

The West Kelowna Warriors deserved better.

In a game they were easily the better team for more than two periods, they managed just a loser point in a 5-4 overtime defeat at the hands of the Coastal Conference leading Nanaimo Clippers.

But they deserved better. Even lady luck was on their side...until it wasn't.

Penalties late in the game with the Warriors clinging to a 3-2 lead gave the Clippers a lengthy two-man advantage.

They capitalized on both. Then a dubious call near the end of regulation with the game knotted at four gave the Clippers a four-on three advantage in the extra period.

They capitalized on that one as well.

The Warriors feel they deserved better.

They even had lady luck on their side. Trailing by multiple goals in the first period for the fifth game in a row, despite badly outplaying the Clippers, the Warriors clawed their way back.

After Jake Bernadet slashed his way through the slot to beat Aiden Campbell from the right circle, Chris Duclair died it, the recipient of one of the luckier bounces all season.

Duclair got the puck at the left point and slapped it toward the net. It hit a stick in the slot, changed direction then glanced off a body near the edge of the crease and found its way into the net with 9.9 seconds left.

Duclair gave the Warriors their first lead in five games just 30 seconds into the second. He intercepted a pass inside the Clippers blueline, played give and go with Michael Selandra, beat one defender before deking to his backhand for his 16th of the season.

Lady luck smiled on them again with 27.3 seconds left in the second when what the Clippers thought was the tying goal was waived off after the on ice officials huddled and determined the puck was directed in with a high stick.

That call came just seconds after Willyam Gendron was denied on a penalty shot after he was hauled down by Noah Laframboise.

It looked as if the lead might hold up, but late penalty trouble allowed the Clippers to score twice in a 90 second span to assume a 4-3 lead.

The, with under a minute to go on a later power play of their own and Cayden Hamming on the bench for an extra attacker, Rylee Hlusiak grabbed a rebound and backhanded his 19th to draw them even.

But Jake Hewitt, who had tied it in regulation on the power play, blasted a shot from the left point past Hamming 1:04 into the extra period to seal the victory.

"Our first 40 was a real good and that's even with us being down 2-0 to start. I thought we were playing good hockey but unfortunately we found ourselves behind," said assistant coach Josh Gorges.

"We clawed back and tied it, got an early one in the second and I thought we took control of the game through the second period."

Gorges said he though the guys tried to protect the lead in the third instead of just playing hockey.

"When you do that, you are sitting back and allowing them to come at you in waves. They start to build momentum, they start to feel good, they start to gain some confidence.

"I think that was the letdown for us tonight. We didn't continue to push forward."

Angelo Zol got the start Saturday but was pulled in favour of Hamming after allowing two goals on four shots. Hamming went the rest of the way, facing 33 shots over the final 53 minutes.

The Warriors peppered Campbell with 46 shots, 35 of those through the first 40 minutes.

They deserved better.

The single point, coupled with wins by Vernon in a shootout, Prince George and Wenatchee created a logjam in the Interior Conference.

The Warriors, Spruce Kings and Vipers all share fourth with 58 points, two behind third place Salmon Arm and just a single point up on seventh place Wenatchee.

Salmon Arm have three games left in the regular season, while the other four have just two to play.

The Warriors close out the regular season next weekend, hosting Merritt Friday and travelling to Salmon Arm Saturday.

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