WARRIORS WIN ALL-WEST SEMI, MOVE INTO RBC CUP FINAL
JASON LA ROSE
LLOYDMINSTER, Alta./Sask. – Connor Sodergren scored a goal and set up another, and the West Kelowna Warriors clinched their spot in the RBC Cup championship game with a 4-1 win over the Brooks Bandits on Saturday night.
West Kelowna will face the host Lloydminster Bobcats in Sunday’s final (4 p.m. MT, live on TSN 3/4/5).
The Warriors and Bandits faced off four times in three weeks on the Road to the RBC Cup, and West Kelowna won the two that mattered most, beating Brooks in the Western Canada Cup final, and on Saturday.
Jake LeBrun, Kyle Marino and Rylan Yaremko had the other goals for the Warriors, who are the fifth B.C.
Hockey League team in eight years to reach the championship game, but the first since Penticton in 2012.
Ty Mappin scored for Brooks, which couldn’t repeat its 5-1 preliminary-round win over West Kelowna.
The Warriors carried the play in the first period, outshooting Brooks 14-8, and struck twice in quick succession to take the lead just past the midway mark of the opening frame.
LeBrun got the scoring started at 11:42, hammering a one-timer through Brooks goaltender Garret Hughson off a feed from Kristian Blumenschein, and Sodergren doubled the advantage just 49 seconds after that, gathering in a pass from Garrett Forster before snapping a quick shot past a sprawling Hughson.
Mappin got one back for the Bandits in the dying seconds of the first period, poking a loose puck past West Kelowna netminder Matthew Greenfield with only 12 ticks left on the clock.
Greenfield took over in a scoreless second period, turning aside all 14 Brooks shots he faced to keep the West Region champions ahead by a goal heading to the third.
Needing insurance, the Warriors turned to their captain; Marino used an active stick to cause a turnover in the Brooks zone before finishing the play seconds later by wiring a shot over the glove of Hughson to make it 3-1 just three minutes into the final stanza.
Yaremko added the final tally on a two-man advantage, deftly redirecting a LeBrun feed past Hughson.
Brooks finished with a 34-32 advantage in shots on goal.
The Warriors will look Sunday to add to British Columbia’s record haul at Canada’s National Junior A Championship; a win would give the West Kelowna its first national title, and B.C. its 13th.