It’s not always about how you start but how you finish, and the West Kelowna Warriors learnt that the hard way as the Smoke Eaters stormed through the third period to win 5-4 on Friday night.
The Warriors came out and by all means were the better team through the first period of Friday’s game. The Warriors scored twice on goals from Elan Bar-Lev-Wise and Holden Kodak just two minutes apart to give West Kelowna all the momentum going to the first intermission. The Warriors even out shot the Smoke Eater 17-7 after the first, sending Trail to the first intermission in an unfamiliar hole.
In the middle frame the Smoke Eaters and the Warriors traded goals with Kent Johnson scoring his 37th of the year just 2:26 into the second. Jameson Murray held the puck in at the point and played it down low for Johnson who went short side top corner on Riley Morgan to get the Smokies within one. The Warriors had an answer though as they restored the two goal lead later in the second, as a scramble in front of Logan Terness was buried by Bar-Lev-Wise for his second of the night. The Warriors with a record of 12-1-2-1 when leading after two periods took a 3-1 lead to the second intermission.
Que the Kent Johnson and Philippe Lapointe show. It started with a dump in by Chase Dafoe that Morgan came out of his net to cover up with very little pressure giving the Smoke Eaters an offensive zone face-off. On the ensuing draw Johnson made him pay.
The Warriors would answer almost immediately in an attempt to kill the comeback as former Smoke Eater Colby Elmer beat Terness restoring the two goal lead, his flyby the Smokies bench in celebration however backfired. 1:50 later Johnson picked up just his second BCHL Hat-trick and he completed it in style.
Now down by a goal the Smoke Eaters weren’t done yet with ten minutes to play. Lapointe would add goals 19 and 20 to seal the win as his first came off a great solo effort from himself. Lapointe took the pass from Powell Connor, tipped it past the Warriors defenceman and then went top shelf from in tight to make it 4-4 with under four minutes to go. With overtime looming the Smokies were determined to settle this one in regulation and who else but the captain to step up for his 20th goal of the season.
With 1:31 to go the Smoke Eaters had turned around a 3-1 and 4-2 deficit to now lead 5-4 in the final minutes. But the Warriors would get a “Grade A” opportunity to tie the game, however potential rookie of the year goaltender Terness had the last laugh with one of his best of the year.
With the win the Smoke Eaters improve to 33-14-2-2 while improving to 14-2-1 over the last 17 games. Johnson picked up the first star for his three goals and an assist while Lapointe was the third star with two goals and two assists. Trevor Isaksson was named the Fortis Energy player of the game.
The Smoke Eaters have Saturday night off as they travel to Vernon to take on the Vipers on Sunday afternoon at 2pm.