- That one will sting. The Vees were dealt just their fourth loss at home this season, if you include the regular season, with the Warriors 4-3 double-overtime win in game one. After failing to convert on a power-play in the first overtime period, West Kelowna made good on their only power-play of the game, in the second overtime period. Jason Cotton played hero, cleaning up a rebound in the crease after the initial shot from Kyle Marino was stopped.
- The official time of the game-winner was at 5:39 of the second overtime period, as Cotton slipped behind the Vees defense and stretched the rebound around a sprawled Hunter Miska. Some salt in the wound, as the Vees had a full two-minute power-play in the first overtime frame, after Tyler Kunz took a goalie interference penalty but couldn’t manufacture a game-winner. The Vees didn’t get a shot on net during that sequence, as West Kelowna blocked two key shot attempts and kept the play on the boards. It almost was like a law of averages, that after having a power-play and not scoring, the Warriors would score on theirs-whenever that was going to take place. Fitting that Cotton was the OT hero, as he was easily the Warriors best player.
- Cotton finished with a goal and an assist on the night and took home first star honours. He played centre in the absence of Liam Blackburn and anchored the top-line very well. Cotton played alongside Tanner Campbell and Kylar Hope. Blackburn, who led the team with 71 points in the regular season, was a late scratch. Cotton slid to the middle and never skipped a beat.
- The other top performer for the Warriors was unheralded goaltender Scott Patton. For most of the season he was Andy Desautels back-up but has carried the load lately with Desautels being sidelined with an injury. Patton had a .885 save-percentage in the regular season and tonight alone his save-percentage was .945. Terrific at fighting for pucks and rebounds and never seemed to get rattled. Patton stepped up in a big way and when his team needed it the most.
- A lot of attention will go on the Vees’ Demico Hannoun, as he was sitting in the penalty-box when the Warriors scored. Tough penalty call against when he was dinged for a kneeing penalty early in double-overtime. Hannoun had Cotton lined up behind the Warriors net but the forward moved and Hannoun caught him in awkward spot. Hannoun also had a couple of close calls on net and both were in the first overtime. Twice off the rush he was stopped on partial breakaways by Patton. Despite the penalty against, I really liked what I saw from Hannoun; he’ll have a bur under his saddle tomorrow.
- Tonight will once again bring up the comment the Vees struggle to put teams away. They were up 1-0 early but allowed West Kelowna to come back and score twice to take a late first period lead. Then, when they did take another lead, the Vees allowed the Warriors to hang around and they eventually tied it. Going forward, the Vees need to learn how to finish off teams when they have them against the ropes. Tonight West-K was resilient and it paid off with the OT win.
- Going forward, the Vees are going to need to win more face-offs, especially in the offensive zone. The Vees would earn those draws with their established cycle game below the circles but when they went to win the puck back, a Warriors was winning the face-off more times than not. After all that good work off the cycle, the Vees continuously lost offensive draws and that usually meant bringing the offense back out at centre and losing time in the offensive end. Andrew Johnson and Brett Mennear had a lot of success in the dots and that frustrated some Vees.
- Going forward, the Vees are going to need to match that desperation that the Warriors played throughout the game. They were physical, played right to the edge and you got that sense of urgency from their game; time to let it all hang loose.
- The Vees will also have to find a way around the net again, as they needed someone to step up and take the game over. We saw that from West Kelowna, in particular Jason Cotton but there wasn’t that guy from the Vees on Tuesday; take the bull by the horns so to speak. The good news was the Vees continually set themselves up in scoring situations, but the bad news was they were plagued by shots missing the target.
More to come in the morning…