WESTLOCK - Eight goals from seven different shooters added up to an 8-5 home win for the Westlock Senior Warriors over the Camrose Crunch Saturday night and tightened the standings atop the North Central Hockey League as only three points separates the second-to-fourth-place clubs.
The Warriors came out guns blazing at the Rotary Spirit Centre (RSC) Dec. 17, as first-period goals from Ryan Nelles, named the game’s first star, Kyle Dronyk, Mike Ivey and a powerplay marker from Scott Ivey staked them to a 4-1 lead.
While the Crunch were able to respond with two in the middle frame, including a shorthanded marker, a goal from the night’s third star Clayton Eisler kept them up 5-3.
In the third, Garry Mindus potted the eventual game winner at 3:01, while Tyler Kampjes tickled the twine at 10:28 and Eisler got his second of the night, a powerplay marker, with 3:39 left on the clock. Goalie Jordan Brand got the win and faced a relatively light night with only 18 shots, while the Warriors peppered the Crunch keeper with 42 shots.
Captain Mike Ivey said it was a great victory heading into the Christmas break and keeps them in the mix for one of the Top 4 spots in the league. The Lacombe Generals still lead the way at 10-0-1-1 and 21 points, while Crunch stand with 17 points and an 8-2-0-1 record. The Warriors are nipping at their heels with 15 points and a record of 7-3-0-1, while the Morinville Kings are a point back at 7-4-1-0.
“It was a good win for sure. They’re a very good team, so to be able to put up eight goals and get 42 shots is a big deal. Heading into the break with a big win is nice for sure,” said Ivey.
“We had pressure on them throughout, but we just have to limit them a bit more and give up less than five the next time we face them for sure.”
The Warriors have Christmas off and won’t be back on the ice until they face the 2-5-0-2 Devon Barons Jan. 7, 2023, at the RSC. At that game Ivey said they still plan to honour former NCHL MVP Nicholas Bourgeois, 31, who “tragically” passed away in a Dec. 5 accident.
“We’re working on it with the family and we really want to have a nice tribute to him at that game,” he said.
Bourgeois, who hailed from Barrhead and leaves behind a wife and two young children, played parts of six seasons in the NCHL with the Whitecourt Wild (2014-2016), the Kings (2017) and the Warriors (2018-2019) — during his first season with Whitecourt he was voted to the NCHL’s First All Star Team and named league Most Valuable Player. For the remainder of this campaign the Warriors have added No. 26 stickers with the word “Nic” to their helmets to honour Bourgeois.