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Six-straight goals sink Warriors

Tough 6-4 home loss Jan. 7 to the Devon Barons drops club to fourth in the NCHL
Westlock Senior Warriors’ Garry Mindus dodges a Devon Baron during the club’s 6-4 loss Jan. 7 at the Rotary Spirit Centre. The club will be on the road for the remainder of the month, with league playoffs slated to start in February.

WESTLOCK - Six-unanswered goals by the Devon Barons, punctuated by three powerplay markers, was too deep a hole for the Westlock Senior Warriors to climb out of in their first action of 2023, a 6-4, Saturday-night loss at the Rotary Spirit Centre (RSC).

The Jan. 7 defeat at the hands of the 3-5-0-2 Barons, the Warriors’ first game in three weeks which opened with a minute of silence to honour former teammate Nicholas Bourgeois, 31, who passed away in a Dec. 5 accident, dropped them to fourth in the North Central Hockey League at 7-4-0-1 and 15 points, one point behind the Morinville Kings who now sit in third with an 8-4-1-0 mark following their 12-3 demolition of the second-place 8-3-0-1 Camrose Crunch, who remain in second with 17 points.

While a goal from Tyler Kampjes two minutes into the tilt was the start the Warriors were looking for, the wheels quickly fell off as the Barons tied the score nine seconds later, then went up 2-1 1:40 after that and netted two more, including a powerplay goal, before the end of the frame.

In the second, the Barons potted two more powerplay goals to go up 6-1 which ended the night for Warriors’ keeper Chase Langdale, who was replaced by Cole Hoeber who turned aside all six shots he faced. The club did respond with a Kyle Dronyk goal before the end of the frame, while a shorthanded marker from Jake Chizma and an unassisted goal from Scott Ivey, the game’s third star, in the final 20 minutes made the final 6-4.

Although it was hardly the result they were looking for, captain Mike Ivey said he was happy they didn’t quit and made the final score respectable.

“We had a good start but they scored on the next shift and then kind of took over … that first period was definitely the difference and spotting them four goals was tough,” said Ivey. “But I’m happy we didn’t quit on the game and battled back. It was definitely a game we had been hoping to win, so it was disappointing.”

The Warriors have two regular season games left before playoffs begin in February — on Jan. 21, they’ll head south to face the Red Deer Rustlers and end the regular season with a Jan. 28 tilt in Camrose. For this year’s playoffs the Top 2 teams receive a first-round bye, while the third-place squad faces the team in sixth and the fourth- and fifth-place clubs square off. Round 1 will feature two, best-of-five series, while the two semifinal series and the championship will be best-of-sevens.

As it stands, Lacombe appears to have locked up top spot in the league at 10-0-1-1 and 21 points, while Camrose, 17 points, Morinville, 16 points, and Westlock, 15 points, occupy spots two through four and all have two games left to play. Red Deer sits in fifth with 10 points and three games to play, with Devon in sixth with eight points, although they’re about to get a four-point bump after they’re credited with two wins over the defunct Fort Saskatchewan Chiefs and will jump to 5-5-0-2 and 12 points with two games left. Even Bonnyville, in seventh with eight points at 4-7-0-0 with three games to play, has a slim shot at the playoffs if they can run the table.

“The standings are really tight in the middle, so it will be interesting to see how it shakes out. It would be nice to win these last two and get home ice for at least the first round,” said Ivey. “Every team is looking good down the stretch, so we’ll see what happens.”

George Blais,

George Blais

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