The West Sound Warriors waited a week to face someone other than each other in practice.
The wait was worth it.
The Swedish line of Erik Safstram and Mattias Wikstrom scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal as the Warriors beat Southern Oregon 4-3 in a Western States Hockey League Northwest Division game Friday at Bremerton Ice Center.
The Warriors jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Bryce Ebert’s first goal five minutes into the game off a feed from Connor Wherrett. Majej Valicek of Southern Oregon tied the game at 1-1 to end the first period.
The Spartans took their only lead of the game on a goal by Thomas Wangler, 2-1. Alec Johnson answered for the Warriors and scored the game-tying goal off an assist from Pelech and Wherrett to make it 2-2 after two periods.
“We played OK,” said Warriors coach Ty Smith. “We didn’t play to our potential at all. I thought Southern Oregon came out with great effort. We have to match it and surpass it. They kind of dictated the game there for a while. But coming out at home, we’ve got to come out a little faster. We came out flat.”
It turned out the third period was the most intriguing.
Ebert scored his second goal of the night to put West Sound up 3-2 at the 14:29 mark.
“I don’t do that very often, so it’s kind of a good feeling,” he said. “I felt good before the game so doing something like that is kind of nice.”
Less than a minute later, Safstram scored off an assist from Wikstrom to put the Warriors up 4-2.
“I thought we responded well in the third, two-goal effort which was huge,” Smith said.
The Warriors defense kept Southern Oregon at bay for nearly 10 minutes, but they broke through with just 45.7 seconds left on Valicek’s second goal of the night to make it 4-3.
Ebert said getting the opening win in the three-game series with the Spartans was vital.
“I think it was huge,” Ebert said. “We’ve kind of been off and on with our game, so getting into it early and getting guys, everybody, going all 20 minutes is key for the first game especially.”
The Warriors and Southern Oregon face off in game two at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Bremerton Ice Center.