PORT HARDY—The Warriors carried the momentum from their recent Wild tourney win to post back-to-back wins over the Bulls in the Port Hardy Men’s Hockey League last weekend.
A strong second period Friday saw the Warriors ease out to an 8-4 win, Jeff Cowles racking up four goals including the winning score for the Warriors.
Saturday’s game was a much tighter affair, a clutch save by Warriors goalie Jason Saunders with 3.3 seconds to play securing a 4-3 win in a game that could have gone either way.
The Bulls chased throughout, but bagged quick replies three times in the second period to keep the game in sight.
Cole Morton opened the scoring for the Warriors on a breakaway early in the first period, skating free to backhand the puck over the shoulder of the Bulls’ net minder Colin Hunko. Despite chances for both sides, his goal was the only score of the first period.
The game sprang to life in the second period as the momentum swung from one end to the other.
A promising Bulls start piled pressure on the Warriors in the opening minutes but David Shaw took advantage of a lull to line up a wrist shot from the right circle and slam a bullet through the Bulls defence.
The two-goal buffer didn’t last long however as the Bulls pulled one back 30 seconds later, Richard Burgess driving right and firing home from a tight angle.
The Warriors had a golden opportunity to go 3-1 up on the 12 minute mark when Darryl Cockell intercepted a pass and broke free only to be hooked back. From the resulting penalty shot, Cockell dragged the puck across to shoot low for the right corner but Hunko’s butterfly covered the post and denied the goal.
Again the two sides went goal for goal from the restart. Jake Colbourne found the net for the Warriors on a near carbon copy of Cockell’s hampered chance, breaking forward and backhanding home.
But the lead proved fragile as Shaun Desrosiers was in the right place to fire a rebound past Saunders and keep the Bulls in the hunt.
The Warriors restored the advantage through Shelby Cockell after a slick buildup with eight minutes left. All five players were involved in moving the puck into the Bulls zone before Morton fired one in at an unsighted Hunko. The goalie got his pad on the puck but Shelby was on hand to stuff home from close range.
The lead was cut to one by Adam Dimetrichuk a minute later, setting up a frantic finale. Max Robertson did well to fight for possession on the boards, stealing the puck and dishing off to Carson Porter. Porter fired in a speculative shot that took a deflection off a defender’s stick and on to the pad of Saunders, with Dimetrichuk reacting first to fire home from the slot.
A late penalty saw the Bulls play the final minute shorthanded and the Warriors play possession in an attempt to run out the clock.
The strategy almost backfired when Porter cut out a pass and surged forward on the break. Under pressure from the scrambling defence, Porter squared the puck for the supporting Dimetrichuk, but Saunders came out and met the pass before diving on the rebound to stop the clock at 3.3 seconds.
Both sides will be in action again this weekend with the Bulls facing the Islanders in Port Alice Friday and the Warriors hosting the Mustangs in Port Hardy.