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Rolling Warriors Meet Tough Thunderbirds Squad at Rogers Arena

The Vancouver Warriors (6-9) take on the Halifax Thunderbirds (9-7) for Country Night 2.0 Presented by Ford at Rogers Arena. 

The Warriors are coming off a 12-9 win over the Las Vegas Desert Dogs and are looking to extend their three-game win streak heading into the matchup against the Thunderbirds.  

Warriors General Manager and Head Coach Curt Malawksy was pleased with the resolve of his team to battle through penalties, taking a 9-4 lead at the half. 

“We battled back and we ended up winning the second quarter 7-2 and that was big for us. It’s [about] staying in the fight and fighting for each other,” Malawsky said. 

Vancouver went on a six-goal run in the second quarter against Las Vegas. Keegan Bal put together another incredible performance, tallying nine points (four goals and five assists) after coming off an eight-goal, thirteen-point performance in Philadelphia two weeks ago. 

Malawsky said Bal’s back-to-back performances are the result of the work he puts in for the game – the early mornings, going over film and determination to help his team. 

“It matters to him, it’s important to him. He’s a man on a mission and he’s been playing really well for us. The best part is he’s making everyone around him better. It’s not just him putting the ball in the net, he’s moving the ball well, creating space, getting to the dirty areas and taking hits to make plays,” he said. 

Adam Charalambides had a trio of goals and added three helpers for six points. Kyle Killen had two goals and chipped in an assist. Kevin Crowley, Reid Bowering and Owen Grant each scored a goal, Grant taking home NLL Rookie of the Week honours for Week 18. 

Aden Walsh got his fourth win of the season and turned aside 45 saves for the win. 

Bal leads the Warriors in points with 84 (37-47-84) while Charalambides is second on the squad with 31 goals and 49 assists on the season, good for 80 points. 

With the victory, the Warriors move within one game of a playoff spot with three games left to play. The Warriors were 3 for 6 on the power play and 6 for 9 on the penalty kill which has been holding a steady 61% success rate for the last few weeks, good for third in the NLL. 

Speaking of special teams, the Thunderbirds have moved into second place in the NLL on the penalty kill over the past weekend, edging the Warriors with a 62% success rate. Their overall power play record is fifth in the league, and they were 4 for 5 on the man advantage against Rochester. 

Halifax is coming off a 12-9 win of their own against the Rochester Knighthawks. It was their second game of a three-game road trip that wraps up in Vancouver this weekend.  

It was a close first half, the score tied 6-6 going into the break but the Thunderbirds blew the scoring open in the third quarter scoring five to Rochester’s lone goal, giving them an 11-7 lead heading into the fourth. 

Forwards Cody Jamieson and Dawson Theede each had a hat trick and three assists while forward Ryan Benesch led his team with seven points (two goals, five assists). Forwards Aaron Woods and Clarke Petterson scored two goals apiece in the win. 

Benesch’s second goal of the night helped push him past Dan Dawson for fourth all-time in goals with his 552nd career tally. 

Petterson leads Halifax with 89 points (36-53-89) while Benesch has 41 goals and 33 assists and forward Austin Shanks has 19 goals and 55 apples. 

Defender Jake Withers, who’s posting a 74% face off percentage this season was 17 for 26 off draws against the Knighthawks. Goaltender Warren Hill recorded a season-high, 45-save performance to earn his eighth victory of the year. 

Halifax has a trio of B.C.-born defenceman who will get to play in front of their hometown crowd: Max Wilson from Victoria, rookie Caelan Mander from Surrey and Johnny Pearson from Langley. 

Grab your country gear and head down to Rogers Arena for 7:00 p.m. face off Friday, April 5th. 

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