3 Thoughts: Silverbacks @ Warriors Game #45

The West Kelowna Warriors made a late comeback effort but ultimately fell short in a 3-2 loss to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

SCOTT ATKINSON PRE GAME

PARM DHALIWAL

Game photo from tonight provided by Wayne Moore of Castanet:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) TWO GOOD PERIODS, ONE NOT SO GOOD

The Warriors had two pretty good periods on Saturday night against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in their 3-2 loss at Royal LePage Place, unfortunately, it was the one poorly played period that cost them in the defeat. Despite trailing in the opening period of the game, I liked the way the Warriors came out in the opening 20 minutes of play as they got a good chance to score just 31 seconds into game off a drop pass from RJ Murphy in the slot for Michael Lombardi, who was all around the net tonight but just couldn’t score, but the puck got caught up in his skates and his shot was gobbled up by Silverbacks netminder Kyle Dumba. The opening 10 minutes saw the Warriors play with some pretty good pace and skated well along with the Silverbacks doing the same and creating a good flow to the beginning of the game before the Silverbacks found the back of the net off of the skate of Justin Wilson. A bit of a fortunate bounce for the visitors but I thought the Warriors responded well to get some quality chances in the period but Dumba turned aside all the 13 shots he faced in the period. The 2nd period is where the wheels fell off for the Warriors as the Silverbacks controlled most of the frame, outshooting the Warriors 18-13 in the frame but hemming the Warriors into their own zone for most of the frame and territorially taking advantage of the game along with scoring twice. It was a big difference from what the team played like in the opening period and was the eventual downfall of their game but again, credit to Salmon Arm for competing for a full 60 minutes (more on that in our 2nd thought). The 3rd period was where you expected the Warriors to give a push and it took until later in the period but they did come with a pair of goals, 1:03 apart, and almost tied the game. Lombardi hit a crossbar in the beginning stages of the period before Dhaliwal and Marino struck for goals just over a minute apart and made it 3-2. To be honest, I thought the Warriors were going to tie the game in the final moments but couldn’t find the tying goal, including a last second chance for Jared Marino from the slot that was blocked by Julian Timba into the corner to finish out the game.

2) A TOUGH OPPONENT

Often times, we look at what the Warriors didn’t do in a game that they have dropped but I have to say that I was impressed with the effort that the Silverbacks put forth in this game. Starting from the crease out, Salmon Arm played a complete 60 minute effort and earned their third win in a row as they came out with energy and can fly through the neutral zone. Despite not finding the scoresheet, Rhett Kingston had a very good game as he moved his feet well and created plenty of good chances for the Silverbacks on this night. The line that did all the scoring (Justin Wilson, Nick Unruh and Grayson Constable) were excellent on the night and might have been Salmon Arm’s best line in the game. The ‘Backs played hard through the full 60 minutes and certainly did not play to their 18-23-1-3 record as I thought they played a very strong road game. Austin Chorney anchored a good performance from the blue liners before the team turned to goaltender Kyle Dumba and his 34 saves to get the win. I thought both goalies were on their game tonight with Cole Demers making 35 saves on 38 shots and giving the Warriors a strong start in between the pipes for a second straight night after Nik Amundrud did so in Trail on Friday. Dumba looked very solid as he made many key stops, especially in the 1st and 3rd periods, and helped the Silverbacks out when they had troubles inside of their own zone, which seemed like a bit of the opening period where the Warriors came with some waves of pressure but the 19-year-old crease keeper held his team in it. I don’t think by any means the Warriors played a “bad game” on Saturday night but the Silverbacks were not going to be outworked as they put in a 60 minute effort en route to the road victory.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place are that the Warriors had a lapse in their game in the middle stanza and unfortunately, if you take a period off in this league, you’ll likely get burnt and that’s what happened to The Tribe on Saturday. Again, full marks to Salmon Arm for competing hard and deserving the victory but the Warriors just couldn’t find a way to get the tying goal late after making a great effort to come back and get the game within a goal. I liked the Warriors effort in goal again tonight as Cole Demers battled hard in the Warriors crease with his 35 saves while I thought Mike Lombardi certainly deserved to break out of his four-game goal scoring slump but came up just short. Parm Dhaliwal was another positive for the Warriors as he looks to be getting into the form that we saw him in before he was injured in late November and missed 10 games. Salmon Arm is a hard working team and the Warriors were able to match that work level for 60 minutes on Saturday night with a loss on home ice. There are certainly some positives to take out of the game from Saturday as I think the 1st and 3rd periods were pretty good from West Kelowna but falling short in the 2nd frame was a tough pill to swallow for the Warriors as they will look to get back on track on Tuesday when they welcome in another hard working the Coquitlam Express.

The Warriors continue on their four-game home stand when they host the Coquitlam Express on Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place. It’s another night of cheap beer and wings as draft beer is half price and chicken wings are on for 25 cents. Tickets are available online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office one hour ahead of the opening puck drop.

 

 

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3 Keys: Silverbacks @ Warriors Game #45

 vs. 

The West Kelowna Warriors kick off the first of a four-game home stand as they host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for the final time in the regular season at Royal LePage Place on Saturday night.

TICKETS

WATCH

LISTEN

Warriors vs. Silverbacks 2017/18 Schedule:

Saturday, October 7th @ Royal LePage Place (4-1 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Sunday, October 22nd @ Shaw Centre (3-1 Silverbacks) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, November 8th @ Royal LePage Place (5-2 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, January 20th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Friday, February 2nd @ Shaw Centre (7:00 PM)

Saturday, February 24th @ Shaw Centre (7:00 PM)

3 KEYS:

1) KEEP THE GOOD VIBES GOING

The Warriors will look to keep the energy they had from one night ago in Trail as they return to Royal LePage Place to kick off a four-game home stand starting on Saturday night against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Warriors played a strong team game on Friday night and a real complete effort, especially coming from the back end. I thought the Warriors “D” were exceptional a night ago and will look for a repeat performance as they host a Salmon Arm team they have not seen in over two months with each team looking much different than they did back on November 8th in the Warriors 5-2 win over the Silverbacks at RLP. West Kelowna got a pair of goals from Parm Dhaliwal, who was the Warriors best forward and collected first star efforts on the night, as he scored once in the first period and another tally in the second frame was all the scoring they needed in the 2-1 win. As mentioned, the defense stood tall and Nik Amundrud was solid in between the pipes for West Kelowna. Amundrud turned aside 29 of the 30 shots he faced on the night for his 11th win of the season and gave the Warriors a much needed solid effort in between the pipes, throwing the proverbial monkey off his back in the team celebration after the game. The Warriors will turn to Cole Demers tonight after a long travel through the night from Trail to get back to West Kelowna as Demers looks to continue his good play after a solid effort in a 4-3 win in Nanaimo from two weeks ago. The Warriors had a big effort from everyone on the road a night ago and if they get the same one here tonight, the fans in West Kelowna could be going home happy and the Warriors could bank another two points.

2) LONG TIME NO SEE

It’s been just over two months since the last time the Warriors and Silverbacks have met and these two teams will get very used to seeing each other after this meeting as the two clubs will play twice in February, including the final weekend of the BCHL season as well as a meeting at the beginning of the month with both taking place at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm. The Warriors have had good success against their foes from the Shuswap this season with a pair of wins in the three games of the season series and if it weren’t for affiliate goaltender Ethan Langenegger and his 37 saves on October 22nd, the Warriors would have a 3-0 record against Salmon Arm this season. The home team has won every game of this season series with West Kelowna outscoring the ‘Backs 9-3 in two games at RLP this season and will hope for the trend to continue on Saturday night to try and close out their weekend of games with back-to-back victories. The energy level of the Warriors will be something to watch tonight after a long bus trip home and the team arriving in West Kelowna around 2:45 am with the Silverbacks also playing last night at home and having to make the hour and a half trip to West Kelowna today. Michael Lombardi has had some of the best success of the Warriors against the Silverbacks with 3 points in 2 games against the ‘Backs while the goaltenders have also been good against Salmon Arm this season. Nik Amundrud is 1-1 against Salmon Arm this year but holds a .944 SV% in both games he has played while Cole Demers was the goaltender of record the last time these two teams played and boasted a .947 SV% in that game with 35 saves on 37 shots in that game and will look to replicate that success here tonight. Get used to seeing these two teams pop up on the scoreboard as there’s still a lot of hockey left to go between these two Interior Division rivals.

3) THE OPPOSITION

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks come into Saturday night looking for their 3rd straight victory after wins over the Nanaimo Clippers and Chilliwack Chiefs, which came on Friday night by a 5-3 score. The Silverbacks have been battling with the Merritt Centennials for the 6th spot in the Interior Division with the ‘Backs overtaking that spot with the win last night. Rhett Kingston leads the Silverbacks in goals (20), assists (20), points (40) and is tied for first in power play goals (4) and power play assists (8) and is the biggest target to watch out for on the Silverbacks as the recently committed forward (to the University of Western Michigan) has been great this season. Warriors fans know Tanner Campbell well as the shifty forward has points in four straight games with Hudson Schandor also feeling it with 3 assists last night but was injured in the game and will not play tonight. The SIlverbacks have five players out of their lineup tonight including Trade Deadline acquisition Joe Leahy as they picked him up from the Penticton Vees in the Marcus Mitchell swap. Sol Seibel will play tonight, however, as the former Vernon Viper gets into his second game with the ‘Backs with Austin Chorney and Akito Hirose being other players from the back end to watch out from Salmon Arm. Kyle Dumba gets the nod in goal tonight for Scott Atkinson’s squad after Reid Cooper made 22 saves in the victory a night ago. Dumba broke a stretch of eight games without a win his last time out on Sunday against Nanaimo at the end of the Silverbacks Island road trip and comes in with a 5-14-1 record to go along with a 3.80 GAA and a .898 SV% in 21 games this season.

The Warriors and Silverbacks drop the puck at 7:00 PM from Royal LePage Place with tickets available online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the door one hour prior to puck drop. If you can’t make it to the rink, I’ll have the call on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com beginning at 6:45 PM with the pre-game show.

3 Thoughts: Warriors @ Smoke Eaters Game #44

The West Kelowna Warriors used a two-goal performance from Parm Dhaliwal and a 29-save effort from Nik Amundrud to earn a big bounce back victory in a 2-1 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday night at Cominco Arena.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

CAM KEITH PRE GAME

NIK AMUNDRUD

Game photos from tonight are provided by Randy Emery of the Trail Smoke Eaters:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) A COMPLETE EFFORT

Friday night was a good one for the Warriors as they picked up their 22nd victory of the season with a 2-1 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters at Cominco Arena in Trail to wrap up the two clubs season series. This was a complete effort from the offence picking up a pair of goals along with having multiple chances to score but Adam Marcoux stood in the way of that with 28 saves on the night and was the Smoke Eaters best player. This might have been one of the Warriors better defensive games in a while as the 5-man unit (with Tyler Jutting being a late scratch) all coming together to log some good quality minutes on the back end. In net, Nik Amundrud threw the monkey off his back in the team’s post game celebration after he looked like the Amundrud of old from the beginning of the season and posted 29 saves in his 11th victory of the season. Even with the Warriors having won three straight games just a couple of weeks ago, Amundrud hadn’t had one of those games where he felt on top of his game. Friday was a different story. “I felt good from the start,” Amundrud told me after the game, “The way the guys were playing in front of me, I knew it was going to be a good night.” Amundrud and his teammates came together for a complete 60-minute effort and earned every bit of the two points they got tonight. The first period was one of the best ones for this team in about a month as they scored the first goal of the game for the first time in 10 contests and overwhelmed the Smoke Eaters and took the words from Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster of “starting on time” literally with a great opening frame. They outshot the Smokies by a 14-8 margin (with Trail getting a majority of their first period shots from a late power play) and controlled most of the play. The two periods following saw the Smoke Eaters outshoot the Warriors in each of the frames but I didn’t think that Trail got a ton of quality scoring chances. The Warriors defense deserves a big round of applause for a stellar game and not allowing Trail’s top guns much in the way of chances at all. Kale Howarth, Ross Armour and Levi Glasman were really non-factors in the game tonight aside from a couple of rushes from Howarth in the contest but they didn’t have much a sniff at the Warriors goal. The offence also contributed with plenty of chances to make this score line much worse than 2-1 but Adam Marcoux was strong in the Trail goal but the Warriors forwards seemed to have a bit of an extra jump in their stride. After going two games without scoring, the Warriors only needed two goals to earn a win in Trail but it was all about the defense in the Warriors 22nd win of the season.

2) DOUBLE DOSE OF DHALIWAL

It only took Parm Dhaliwal one game to get back into game shape as he provided the only goal scoring for West Kelowna on the night in the 2-1 win. The first of Mr. Dhaliwal’s pair might have been the best shot I’ve seen him take as he picked the top corner on Marcoux’s blocker side off of a really nice passing play setup between Michael Ryan and Chase Dubois. Ryan passed at the midpoint for Dubois just above the right face-off circle before spotting Dhaliwal in the left dot where he rifled home his 7th goal of the season. At the almost the exact same point in the 2nd period, Dhaliwal tacked on his second of the game and the eventual game winning goal as he took a loose puck on the blocker side of Marcoux at the goal line and outwaited the Trail netminder before sliding the puck underneath of his left arm at the top of the crease for his second marker of the contest. The line of Dhaliwal along with Jared Marino and Chase Dubois had a good night I thought and applied some very good waves of pressure along with scoring the game’s only goals from the Warriors standpoint. Mike Lombardi, RJ Murphy and Ryan Steele were the Warriors best line on the night despite not finding the back of the net. All three are so good at protecting the puck below the goal line and making it hard on bigger defenders to bare down on them as they use their speed to get away while power through smaller defenders with their strong puck protecting skills and strength. Steele has fit in quite nicely on that line with Lombardi and Murphy and it’s showing as the line is usually one of the Warriors best on any given night. A double dose of Dhaliwal was all the Warriors needed on this night as the Surrey, BC native was back and in game shape on Friday, providing all the offence the Warriors needed.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 2-1 victory in Trail over the Smoke Eaters on Friday night at Cominco Arena was that the Warriors needed that kind of an effort and they executed perfectly to earn a big two points on the road in a big divisional matchup. Michael Ryan stood out to me as the Warriors best defender on the night as he was all over and logged a ton of minutes and was rewarded (as well as a late birthday present) as the now 21-year-old was rock solid on the Warriors back end. All the defensemen in the Warriors lineup tonight played solid games on the back end, especially considering the Warriors were really down to four defensemen for the majority of the 2nd period with Stephen Kleysen and Jake Harrison missing a chunk of time being examined by Warriors athletic therapist Mike Bois. Both made recoveries and finished the game strong but I also liked the ruggedness of Garrett Ewert’s game tonight. I thought he played with a bit of aggression and helped shut down some of the Smoke Eaters top guns. Amundrud was very good in between the pipes for the Warriors and helped them along to a 22nd win on the season. All in all, a pretty successful trip to Trail and a very nice two points heading back to West Kelowna.

The Warriors are back in action on Saturday (which by the time I post this I guess it will already be Saturday) as they face-off against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for just the 4th time this season and third in West Kelowna. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM.

3 Keys: Warriors @ Smoke Eaters Game #44

 vs. 

The West Kelowna Warriors make their final trip to the Kootenay’s in the regular season as they head off to face the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday night at Cominco Arena.

LISTEN

WATCH

Warriors vs. Smoke Eaters 2017/18 Schedule:

Friday, September 8th @ Cominco Arena (4-3 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, September 9th @ Royal LePage Place (4-0 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, December 9th @ Royal LePage Place (5-3 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, December 29th @ Royal LePage Place (7-5 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, December 30th @ Cominco Arena (6-3 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, January 19th @ Cominco Arena (7:00 PM)

3 KEYS:

1) GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START

It’s been ten games since the Warriors scored the first goal of a game and it will be key for them to get off to a good start in Friday night’s matchup against the Trail Smoke Eaters at Cominco Arena. December 15th against the Penticton Vees marks the last time the Warriors hit the scoresheet against their opposition and it seems like no better time than tonight to have a better start than what the team has experienced over the last few weeks. It’s been impressive that the Warriors have been able to battle from behind in almost each and every game over the past month but playing that much catch up hockey can wear on a team and, judging on the last two games of not having scored in 120 minutes played, I think that may be wearing on the Warriors right now. The Warriors have surrendered 21 goals in the last 10 first periods they have played and will need to turn that around and try to limit the damage in the opening period. On Tuesday night, Vernon scored three times in the opening period while getting a five-minute power play just 29 seconds into the contest and felt like it took the air out of the building in the early going. It may not be a goal but the Warriors will need to stay structured and play on the right side of the law to try and get some momentum in the opening period against a team that has collected points in eight straight games and is hitting their stride. The Warriors will need a big effort from everyone tonight to try and kickstart a big weekend with Salmon Arm coming into town on Saturday night but it all starts with tonight’s game In Trail. The opening period could be a big decider in how tonight’s game may look and West Kelowna will need to be ready to play as soon as the puck drops tonight.

2) POWER OUTAGE

Starts for West Kelowna have not been strong over the last couple of games but special teams will need to get a spark as well. West Kelowna’ special teams have taken a turn over the last few weeks with the power play having not scored in their last 4 games, going 0/16 in that span while the penalty kill has gone 23/34 (68%) and surrendered a goal against on the PK in each of their last 7 games. The Warriors, for a large part of the season, have had strong special teams numbers with the penalty kill actually being ranked 4th before the team headed out on their six-game road trip when things took a turn in the special teams department. The power play has had some signs of positivity with some good puck movement and coming close to finding the back of the net. It’ll be about keeping it simple for the Warriors on the power play, trying to find a way to break through on the man advantage with traffic getting to the front of the net and attempting to get lots of shots through to the goal. The Warriors have had success getting shots on the Trail goal this season with 30+ shots in three of the five games in the season series thus far and will look to do the same in the final game of the season series tonight. As for the penalty kill, staying discipline will help that the most and not having the penalty killers on the ice for a lot of time in the game. Trail also has the 4th ranked power play in the league and has scored in four of the five games of this season series so staying out of the penalty box will be a priority for the Warriors, as it is every night for every team. If the Warriors do go on the penalty kill, they’ll need big efforts from not just their PKers but their goaltender as well. It’s often said that the best penalty killer is often your goaltender and Nik Amundrud will have to be just that on the PK and throughout the game as the Warriors search to get back in the win column.

3) THE OPPOSITION

The Trail Smoke Eaters got everything they asked for on their Christmas wish list as they’ve collected points in eight straight games and improved to a 26-13-1-3 record on the season. The Smokies got Ross Armour and Kale Howarth back in the lineup after both missed the month of December and they have picked up right where they left off with both having points in nine of their last ten games and are a handful to take care of on each and every night. As much as Armour and Howarth have been the straws that have stirred the Smoke Eaters drink, the supporting cast of offence has stepped up in a big way. Carter Jones has points in four straight games as well as having scored in three straight contests while Braeden Tuck has points in three of four games and has had the Warriors number this season with five goals in the five game season series thus far against West Kelowna. From the back end, Troy Ring has pitched in with some offence as the Trail captain has points in four straight games along with the Smokies making one move at the Trade Deadline as defenseman Connor Welsh was added from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and will play former teammate Ryan Steele for the first time with both of them having played last season and the beginning of this year on the same squad. I’d imagine that Adam Marcoux will get the nod in goal for the Smoke Eaters tonight and he has been very good since coming over to Trail. The 19-year-old has compiled a 6-3-1 record to go along with a 2.92 GAA and a .918 SV% since becoming a member of the Smoke Eaters and has added stability in between the pipes for Trail. The Smokies are on a strong stretch of play right now and the Warriors will have to work hard to stop the hot play of the Smoke Eaters.

The Warriors and Smoke Eaters are slated to drop the puck at 7:00 PM from the Cominco Arena in Trail. Pre-game festivities will begin at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com as I’ll have the call from Trail.

3 Thoughts: Vipers @ Warriors Game #43

The West Kelowna Warriors offence was silenced for a second straight game as they fell by a 5-0 score to the Vernon Vipers on Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

MARK FERNER PRE GAME

Game photos provided by Julie Pringle of Snap Photography:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) A STRONG VIPER SHOWING

The Vipers displayed why they are at the top of the BCHL standings in a 5-0 victory over the Warriors at RLP on Tuesday. Vernon plays with a lot of pace and speed and that was relevant in the game tonight. The Warriors search for offence continues as the team was shutout for the second straight contest after Ty Taylor turned aside all 26 shots he faced in the game. It seemed as though the Warriors were a step behind the Vipers in all categories all night long and just never found a way to catch up. The biggest play of the game came at the earliest point of the contest as Cavin Tilsley got into a scuffle behind the play with Vipers captain Jagger Williamson resulting in Tilsley dropping his gloves and confronting the Viper forward near Vernon’s bench. Tilsley was given a two-minute instigating penalty on the play as well as a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct while Williamson received a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. A tough play to have come just 29 seconds into the hockey game and, despite killing off the penalty with just one goal against in the five minutes, the Warriors just couldn’t find a way to recover from that and the Vipers carried that momentum for the remainder of the period as they scored three goals before the 1st frame came to a conclusion. This was the first game between the two Interior Division rivals since late November but man can the Vipers play. They’ve made some moves and brought in very good players and proved why they are at the top of the standings with some very strong play on Tuesday. They can skate and their offence is about as deep as anyone’s in the league while defensively, they blocked a boat load of shots and didn’t allow the Warriors to much in the offensive zone where Ty Taylor was the last man to beat and not many teams have had success against him this year as he picked up his league leading 7th shutout. The Warriors were missing a jump in their stride tonight and was a tough way to return home to RLP after a long road trip.

2) SEARCHING FOR OFFENCE

For a second straight game the Warriors find themselves looking for offence after being shut out for a fourth time this season. The Warriors did have a couple of looks on goal but a lot of credit has to go to the Vipers who eliminated shooting lanes and blocked a lot of shots before anything got to Taylor and once it gets there, he has been able to keep it out of his net. The Warriors had trouble trying to get anything to the net and when there were those chances that popped up, they couldn’t finish on them. It’s very understandable that that becomes the case for some of the Warriors as they haven’t scored in two games and might be gripping their sticks a little tighter than they would in a normal situation. This team is a good team that’s just going through a slump of finding the back of the net but, before this two-game shutout stretch, the Warriors had been scoring at a higher pace than we had seen throughout the course of the regular season so it’s just a matter of time before the red light starts going off again. To go along with trying to find offence is to stop playing from behind, something that plagued the Warriors in this game and has been a recurring theme over the last few weeks. West Kelowna hasn’t scored the game’s first goal since their 3-2 overtime victory against the Penticton Vees on December 15th, a span of 9 games since having the lead first. The Warriors got behind the eight ball early tonight with the Tilsley penalty followed by Vernon scoring 2:49 into the game and West Kelowna was unable to recover from there. As the search for offence continues for the Warriors, the plays they make will see them break this stretch of hockey and get back to their early form.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 5-0 loss at the hands of the Vernon Vipers on Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place are that the early penalty to Tilsley might have been the backbreaker the Warriors were unable to overcome. You certainly would like to see Tilsley stay in the game as he is one of the better defensive players for the Warriors but West Kelowna, especially after killing the penalty, didn’t seem to get much momentum off of that or anything on the night. It was good to see Parm Dhaliwal back in action after missing a stretch of 10 games with an injury as well as Jake Harrison, who is coming back from missing the weekend because of a flu. I liked Garrett Ewert’s game tonight as he played the body and made some shifts really tough for Vipers players to get into the West Kelowna end of the ice but Vernon is just so skilled and skates so well that it’s tough to keep them out of the most high-traffic areas of the zone. The Warriors were playing catch up for the most of the night and didn’t help with Tilsley coming out of the game just 29 seconds in and Cody Paivarinta being a late scratch from the hockey game but the Warriors did power through with some good shifts and scoring chances before Taylor and co. shut the door. I think any team is capable of beating any other given team on a nightly basis but when you watch the speed and strength and puck protection of the Vipers, it’s hard not to single them out as the best team in the BC Hockey League. Overall not the night the Warriors were looking for but collect the positives and head right back out on the road.

It didn’t take long before the Warriors left RLP once more as the boys will hop on the bus Friday afternoon and head to the Kootenays to take on the Trail Smoke Eaters in the final game of the season series. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with the pre-game show coming at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com as I’ll have the call from Cominco Arena.

3 Keys: Vipers @ Warriors Game #43

 vs. 

The West Kelowna Warriors return home after three weeks on the road and play in their first home game of 2018 as they take on the Vernon Vipers from Royal LePage Place on Tuesday night.

TICKETS

WATCH

Warriors vs. Vipers 2017/18 Schedule:

Saturday, October 28th @ Kal Tire Place (5-2 Vipers) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, November 4th @ Kal Tire Place (5-3 Vipers) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, November 15th @ Kal Tire Place (3-2 Vipers/OT) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, November 25th @ Royal LePage Place (4-2 Vipers) (BOXSCORE)

Tuesday, January 16th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Friday, January 26th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

3 KEYS:

1) REMEMBERING DR. DUNCAN WRAY

It’s news that took the BC Hockey League and Junior Hockey by storm on Thursday as it was announced that legendary Vernon Vipers owner Dr. Duncan Wray had passed away at the young age of 68. What Mr. Wray accomplished over his 16 years of owning the Vipers is truly extraordinary as he turned Vernon into a powerhouse in the BCHL. After taking ownership of the Vipers in 1992, Wray oversaw the Vipers win seven BCHL championships, six Doyle Cups and four RBC Cup National Championships including a runner up to the RBC Cup in 2011. I didn’t have many dealings with Dr. Wray over the course of my time in West Kelowna but every time the team arrived in Vernon and I’d make my way up to the broadcast booth, he would greet me and talk about the latest news and happenings with each the Warriors and Vipers. He was apart of some of the most successful teams in Junior ‘A’ hockey with the Vipers at the top of the rankings through the Canadian Junior Hockey League from 2005-2011. Wray had been part of the BCHL Board of Governors and was Chairman of the Board prior to his sudden passing. Every team throughout the league paid their respects with a brief remembrance and moment of silence, which the Warriors have planned for ahead of the opening puck drop on Tuesday night, The hockey world lost one of it’s best last week and I’d like to extend my heartfelt condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Wray family and the entire Vipers organization. I can’t imagine what it must be like in Vernon right now to have lost someone who meant so much not just to the team, but to the community as well. Dr. Duncan Wray will be sorely missed.

2) BACK ON HOME ICE

The Warriors are back on home ice for game action for the first time in 18 days as they take on the league leading Vipers on Tuesday night. West Kelowna will get comfortable back at RLP as they have four of their next five and five of the next seven games being played on home ice where the Warriors have had their most success of the season. The Warriors are 13-6-1-0 on home ice this season and will look to that success to try and pick up their first win of the season series against the Vipers. Tuesday also marks the home debut of forward Ryan Steele, who was acquired by the Warriors at the Trade Deadline from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Steele fit in seamlessly with the Warriors in his opening weekend of action with the club playing on a line with RJ Murphy and Mike Lombardi and will likely stay on that line for tonight’s contest. The Warriors are coming home after a road trip that saw them earn three wins and three losses but have won three of their last four games as they look to try and close the gap on 4th place in the Interior Division and distance themselves from the Merritt Centennials in 6th place. The Warriors had a weekend with a win and a loss in Wenatchee with an impressive overtime win in a tough place to play like the Town Toyota Center on Friday night before looking tired the following night and falling by a 6-0 score to the Wild on Saturday. The Warriors will need a strong effort tonight as they take on the league leading Vipes but getting back on home ice will only help that cause. The Warriors have played some of their best hockey on home ice this season and hold a +11 goal differential (75 goals for, 64 against) in 20 home games while holding the 6th ranked PP (21.7%) and 3rd ranked PK (87.5%) in games at Royal LePage Place this season.

3) THE OPPOSITION

The Vernon Vipers are at the top of the BCHL standings and have already clinched a playoff spot as they aim for home ice advantage throughout the entire postseason. The Vipers will have some new faces in their lineup since the last time these two teams met on November 25th as well as forwards Derek Brown and Josh Latta along with defenseman Cameron Trott were the big additions for Mark Ferner’s group. Brown was added from the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League while Latta was acquired from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Trott returns to the Vipers after beginning the season with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks in the NCAA. Those players add to the gluttony of talent the Vipers possess with Brett Stapley, Jimmy Lambert, Jagger Williamson and Jesse Lansdell, just to name a few. The Vipers forward core might be one of the best ones in the league and they play at a fast pace and are very skilled with the puck and are hard to take off of it as well. Defensively, the Vipers will be without one of their rugged stalwarts as Shane Kelly is serving the second of his six game suspension after leaving the bench to join an altercation on Friday in Merritt. Jack Judson is on the injured reserve until late in the season but the Vipers still boast a strong backend with the likes of Michael Ufberg (who sits 3rd in scoring amongst defensemen), Trott and Michael Young make for a tough defensive opposition. The real strength of this team is in net with both Ty Taylor and Anthony Yamnitsky having outstanding seasons. Taylor leads the league in both goals against average (1.92) and save percentage (.932%) as well as a staggering six shutouts, which is three ahead of any other goaltender in the BCHL. Yamnitsky is also seeing plenty of success this season with 11 wins, a 2.29 GAA and a .913 SV% as well as two shutouts. No matter who dawns the cage for the Vipers, it’ll be tough to get anything past them.

The Warriors and Vipers drop the puck at 7:00 PM on Tuesday night with cheap beer, cheap chicken wings and plenty of fun and excitement will be had at RLP tonight. In addition to that, the game will be broadcasted live on Shaw TV Okanagan as myself and Don Richmond will head to the television side of things for the game tonight. Fans can still watch tonight’s game outside of BC on HockeyTV.com as the Voice of the Vipers Graham Turnbull will provide the play-by-play.

3 Thoughts: Warriors @ Wild Game #41

The West Kelowna Warriors used a pair of goals from RJ Murphy to power them to a 5-4 overtime victory against the Wenatchee Wild on Friday night at the Town Toyota Center.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

BLISS LITTLER PRE GAME

RYAN STEELE

3 THOUGHTS:

1) NEW KID ON THE BLOCK + MR. OT

Ryan Steele made his Warriors debut on Friday night in Wenatchee and was a big presence in the Warriors 3rd straight win with a 5-4 overtime victory against the Wenatchee Wild at the Tow Toyota Center. Steele played on a line with RJ Murphy and Mike Lombardi and the three had instant chemistry as the newest Warriors forward earned a goal and two assists (once scoring corrections are submitted) with Murphy earning a pair of goals and Lombardi with a pair of assists as those three combined for a very strong night. Steele played tough and was hard to get off the puck, using his size and speed to create offensive chances and gave the Warriors plenty of energy in his debut tonight while fitting in very well on a line with Murphy and Lombardi. The three clicked very well in their first game all together on the same line and were an impressive force all night long on the Wild and didn’t spend much time inside of their own zone. It wasn’t only Steele that impressed on the night for the Warriors but RJ Murphy tallied his 3rd OT winner of the season and I think has earned the moniker of Mr. Overtime as this marked his second goal in extra time to come against the Wild this season. Lombardi was the lone forward on that line to not find the back of the net on Friday but certainly did not mean that he didn’t have an impact as the Barrington, Rhode Island native was quick to pucks and set up his linemates well after receiving 14 stitches just above his left eye after a hit he took on Sunday in Port Alberni. The kid is tough and that line was tough for the Warriors on Friday night in Wenatchee and led them to their third straight victory.

2)

The Warriors, I thought, got better in this game with time as the game didn’t start on good footing for them but did rally from being behind by a pair of goals early on and got the game tied before playing some back-and-forth hockey with the Wild. Wenatchee had the edge of play in the 1st period with 17 shots and three goals helping them in that regard and they did spent lots of time in the first period in the Warriors end of the ice, also aided by FIVE 1st period power plays, but we’ll talk about that a little later. West Kelowna was the better team in the middle frame of this game as they outshot the Wild by a 17-14 margin and, in my opinion anyway for whatever that is worth, I thought the Warriors controlled much of the play in the 2nd period inside the Wenatchee zone with some timely saves by Austin Park in the Wild goal crease. The 3rd period had good spurts from both sides with the Warriors playing well throughout the opening 15 minutes of the final regulation period, including a disallowed goal after the puck was shovelled into the net off a goalmouth scramble with the goal judge turning the red light on but then saying it was not a good goal. In the late stages of the period, it was survival time for the Warriors as the Wild poured on the pressure shift after shift. Waves and waves on Wenatchee pressure came late but the Warriors fought it out before the overtime hit and the Warriors scoring on their first rush of the extra frame to pick up their 21st victory of the season. A good, gritty effort for the Warriors who were down to just 4 defensemen for over half of the game after Garrett Ewert and Cody Paivarinta were ejected from the hockey game. A solid road win for the Warriors leads into Saturday night and an even bigger test against these same WIld to try and come away with 4 points.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 5-4 overtime victory against the Wenatchee Wild from the Town Toyota Center on Friday night were that the Warriors were the better team for large parts of this game and picked up a big two points in the victory. The Steele-Murphy-Lombardi trio was excellent while the four defensemen of Michael Ryan, Stephen Kleysen, Tyler Jutting and Wyatt Head deserve a lot of credit as well for logging some big minutes in this game and pulling together as a unit when losing two d-men early on in the game. This was a pretty entertaining game from my perspective but there was only one thing that interrupted the pace of play in the game and that was the men in stripes. Some of the penalties that were being called on Friday night were interesting, to say the least, and to have a team out-powerplay the other by an 8-3 margin, something is a bit off here. This may just be a big coincidence or a recurring theme but in the games the Warriors have played in Wenatchee, they have been penalized 17 times with the Wild scoring 6 times on the power play while the Wild have been shorthanded a total of 8 times in that span. It wasn’t the strongest night for the men in stripes but the Warriors were able to get the two points and head into tomorrow with some confidence.

The Warriors and Wild renew hostilities for the second of their two-game weekend series at Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee on Saturday night for a 7:05 PM face-off. The pre-game show gets underway at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com with the voice of the Warriors, Trevor Miller.