3 Thoughts: Centennials @ Warriors Round #1 Game #1

The West Kelowna Warriors were in a tug of war all night but couldn’t find a way to pull through as they fell to the Merritt Centennials by a 6-5 score at Royal LePage Place on Friday night.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

JOE MARTIN PRE GAME

STEPHEN KLEYSEN

Game photos from tonight’s game provided by Ken Reid with Greystoke Photography

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3 THOUGHTS:

1) EARLY JITTERS

It was noticeable the Warriors were a bit taken back by the early feelings of playoff hockey and the Centennials certainly jumped on that with two goals in the opening eight minutes of the game. Goaltender Cole Demers was susceptible to some early game jitters as he fought the puck a bit at times in the early going and gave up a couple of goals that he would want back. A media timeout at about the halfway mark of the 1st period gave the Warriors some calmness and they capitalized on their only power play of the game and turned the tables, making the Cents look nervous in the later part of the period. Give credit to the Centennials, despite players that have not been on this kind of a stage before in their junior hockey careers, they rose to the occasion and guys like Zach Risteau and Tyler Ward were the driving forces behind a big opening game victory for the Centennials. The Warriors rebounded nicely from their sluggish start in a highly-entertaining Game #1 but couldn’t get a sixth goal to force the game into extra time, despite their best efforts late in the game. There were a few goals that I’m sure Demers would like to have back and some sloppy play by the Warriors that needs to be cleaned up, especially on a night that the offense produced the way they did from a team that normally has a hard time scoring three goals in a game, nevermind five. It’s a learning experience for everyone in the locker room and something they can carry with them into Game #2 on Saturday night.

2) MOMENTUM SWINGS

You’re going to hear it a lot during the course of this series (and playoffs in general) but the way that momentum swings are handled will be crucial and I thought the Warriors did a good job of managing the crazy swings of momentum that were seen in a game that had a lot of them. Getting down by 2-0 and 3-1 scores right off the bat is never an easy task but the Warriors dug deep and dug themselves out of an early hole in the game and got to back at even after two periods. Even with getting down by two late in the game, the resilience of this club got them to within one goal but just unable to find the equalizer. Certainly a momentum swing to watch will be Merritt’s top two lines as Ward with Michael Regush and Brett Jewell were flying tonight and Risteau’s line was doing the same as he was all over the ice during the duration of the game. With Merritt winning the opening game of the series, it’s just another momentum swing in what will be a long, grueling series and the Warriors will have to come out with some jump in their step on Saturday night to try and get this series knotted at one heading back to Merritt early in the week.

3) TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 6-5 loss to the Merritt Centennials to open their playoff series is that the Warriors had a few mistakes that cost them and will need to shore up a bit in their own zone, along with getting more consistent goaltending, to get themselves level in this series. Merritt played a very strong game (although I thought Jacob Berger could’ve had a better net in between the pipes as well) and the Warriors will need to stay out of the penalty box in order to keep the game 5-on-5 and an even playing field. Now the penalties were 5 to 1 in the end of it all in favour of the Warriors, something I thought was a bit off, especially since the Cents were certainly no saints either. No time to dwell on that subject however as Game #2 is just around the corner and a chance for the Warriors to even the series at one.

I would like to mention the great news the franchise received in the 1st intermission as Director of Business Operations Alex Draper relayed on a message from Warriors owner Mark Cheyne that the team will remain in West Kelowna for next season as a group of local investors has purchased the team. Details on the deal are a bit scarce at the moment (at least no one has told me) but will become available in the upcoming future. I have to give a huge hand to my partner in crime, Sheldon Bank, for his emotional reaction to the news. I haven’t been with the organization a long time but to see someone like Sheldon, who has been with the franchise since it’s upbringing, brought to tears at the news is such a special moment and I’d like to commend him for his thoughts and remaining on the broadcast and bringing insightful information even with the hysteria around him. Seeing his reaction along with others from around the arena is the sole reason why this team needed to stay in West Kelowna and it wouldn’t have gotten there without the timeless efforts from the Warriors staff and their fans. Rest up, because Game #2 promises to be another thriller.

Playoff Preview: Warriors vs. Cents

west-kelowna-shield-logo vs. merritt-centennials

The West Kelowna Warriors and Merritt Centennials will meet in the postseason for just the second time in the Warriors franchise history. The first was a series win in the 2013 playoffs that saw the Warriors take the series in five games. West Kelowna will be looking to mirror their playoff run that was had last season as they captured their first Royal Bank Cup National Championship in Lloydminster, Alberta.

Playoff Series:

Game #1: Friday, March 3rd @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Game #2: Saturday, March 4th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Game #3: Monday, March 6th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)

Game #4: Tuesday, March 7th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)

*Game #5: Thursday, March 9th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

*Game #6: Friday, March 10th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)

*Game #7: Saturday, March 11th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

(*- If necessary)

Instead of doing little previews before every game, I thought I would do one big series preview, especially with the little time in between games in this series. I also thought I would give an edge to a certain side when it came to forwards, defense, goaltending, special teams and playoff experience and pick an overall winner of the series. Without further adieu…

OFFENSE

Who’s got the edge: Centennials

When looking on paper you wouldn’t think much of the Cents forward core (and that’s not dig at them at all) but upon further review, this team has a pretty deep group that has scored 14 goals in their last two meetings against the Warriors. Zach Risteau and Cade Gleekel have paced the offense for Merritt this season but the reason I give Merritt the edge here is the depth of forwards they have. Most of Merritt’s forwards are just hard working and tough to play against with guys like Brett Jewell, Zach Zorn, Stephan Seeger, Henry Cleghorn and Nick Fidanza who are all very good 200-foot forwards. They’ve added skill to help out the likes of Risteau and Gleekel with young forwards Tyler Ward and Michael Regush. The Warriors have young skill as well in the likes of Chase Stevenson, Parm Dhaliwal and Chase Dubois not to mention Connor Sodergren and Quin Foreman pacing the offense all season long. West Kelowna also have their players that are tough to play against with Cavin Tilsley and Peter Tomaras but the Warriors will have to score some goals and have their offense come through in order to try and come away with a series win.

DEFENSE

Who’s got the edge: Warriors

Even without their captain Nick Rutigliano, who is no doubt the Warriors best defenseman, I give the Warriors the edge when it comes to the defensive side of the puck. The Warriors have playoff experience in the likes of Scott Allan and Jake Harrison plus the stability of a guy like Stephen Kleysen, who has been very good in the month of February when the Warriors have needed him the most with all the injuries coming. Tyler Jutting has made big strides in becoming more of a complete defenseman since his arrival in West Kelowna and Michael Ryan adds offense from the blueline with Jonas Gordon adding a grit factor. Merritt have good puck moving defenders in the likes of Mike Faulkner and Zach Metsa and have a bit of grit in the way of Tyrell Buckley and Zachary Bleuler but I’d give the Warriors the advantage in this series on the blueline.

GOALTENDING

Who’s got the edge: Centennials (slightly)

Out of each of the five categories I’ve decided to cover here, this one is probably the closest. The Warriors goaltending will have to be as good as it ever has and it will fall on the shoulders of 17-year-old Cole Demers as Gabriel Morency is unlikely to dress in at least the first two games of the series. Demers has the ability to steal a game or two and the Warriors will need him to do that in order to come away with a series win. Jacob Berger, who I believe will see most of the crease in the opening round series, has been good this season but has been susceptible to some rough stretches of play against the Warriors this year and that’s why this subject is tight. One thing is for sure and that’s that this series is going to be as tight as it gets.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Who’s got the edge: Centennials

This one is probably the one category that is farthest apart as the Warriors know their special teams has to be better. A 16th ranked PP and a 14th ranked in PK will not cut it and will need to improve. Merritt had the 3rd ranked PP in the regular season and, especially playing at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena, it will be important to keep the penalties on a low and play smart, hard hockey. I don’t really know how else to explain this in depth outside of the Warriors needing a better effort when it comes to special teams and need to stay disipline against a strong power play. I only have one other tidbit to add and it comes courtesy of the Merritt Herald’s article on Thursday previewing the playoff series, and one particular excerpt. The full link is HERE (thanks to Sharon Tomaras for pointing this out to me) but the real interesting piece to this is calling the Warriors play “stupid” and letting them “self-destruct”. A little emotional for a newspaper article, don’t you think?

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PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE

Who’s got the edge: Warriors (by quite a bit)

I think this key carries more weight than most people understand as the ability to have six players who played over 30 playoff games last season is a big one and the Warriors will have to use every bit of playoff experience they have to get an edge on the Cents. Those six players who made the RBC run last year (Connor Sodergren, Quin Foreman, Jake Harrison, Scott Allan, Jared Marino and Nicholas Rutigliano) amass 210 of the 250 career Junior ‘A’ playoff games the Warriors have as a team total. Playoff knowledge is everything at this time of the year and the Warriors will lean heavily on their veterans to use that. Merritt has not been to the playoffs since 2015 and has only 31 games of Junior ‘A’ playoff experience on their roster with three players (Tyrell Buckley, Nick Fidanza and Stephan Seeger) playing with the club the last time they reached the postseason.

FINAL TAKE:

Warriors win series in seven games

Even though I gave Merritt the edge in three of the five categories, I think that playoff experience will play a big factor into the series and I see the Warriors coming away with the series win. It’ll be a tough, physically demanding series no doubt, but I think the Warriors have enough in the tank to defeat the Centennials. As mentioned, the Warriors will have to get more scoring and be more productive on their PP while limiting PK chances, but guys like Sodergren and Foreman, who had big playoff runs last season, are capable of that again. Merritt isn’t an easy place to play and that’s why home ice was a big advantage and will play as a big factor in this series.

Warriors,’Backs Close Out Regular Season Schedule

west-kelowna-shield-logo vs. salmon-arm-silverbacks

The West Kelowna Warriors play their final regular season game tonight as they head to the Shuswap to face-off against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks on Saturday night.

LISTEN

WATCH

Season Series:

Friday, October 7th @ Royal LePage Place (5-3 Silverbacks) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, October 14th @ Shaw Centre (5-4 OT/Silverbacks) (BOXSCORE)
Saturday, October 15th @ Royal LePage Place (6-4 Silverbacks) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, November 2nd @ Shaw Centre (4-2 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Tuesday, December 6th @ Royal LePage Place (4-3 Silverbacks) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, February 15th @ Shaw Centre (4-3 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, February 25th @ Shaw Centre (7:00 PM)

The Warriors and Silverbacks play for the final time tonight with Salmon Arm leading the season series by a 4-2 margin but it was the Warriors coming away with the victory the last time these two teams faced off against each other. Logan Mostat and Quin Foreman tallied two first period power play goals while Chase Stevenson scored in each of the 2nd and 3rd period, with his empty net goal being the game winner, to give the Warriors a 4-3 victory in Salmon Arm. Gabriel Morency got the start in goal for the Warriors and picked up the win making 38 saves on 41 shots.

The Warriors come into Saturday night’s game after back-to-back losses with dropping a 5-1 final to the Penticton Vees on Tuesday night at RLP and falling on Friday night by a 8-3 score to the Merritt Centennials in the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Quin Foreman, Parm Dhaliwal and Chase Dubois scored in the defeat for the Warriors while Gabriel Morency made 12 saves on 17 shots in the loss, his fourth of the season, and was relieved by AP backup Owen Partrick as he faced his first BCHL action making 9 saves on 12 shots in the 3rd period of the game.

tale-of-the-tape-vs-sa-feb-25

3rd place in the Interior Division is still up for grabs but the Warriors do not control their own fate as the Trail Smoke Eaters helped themselves out with a 3-1 victory on Friday night against the Vernon Vipers to put them to 58 points on the season and alone in 3rd place. If Trail beats Vernon on Saturday night, they will finish 3rd in the division with the Warriors finishing in 4th place and would see West Kelowna play Merritt in the opening round of the playoffs, If the Warriors win and the Smoke Eaters loss on Saturday, West Kelowna will earn 3rd place in the division and will play the Silverbacks in the first round of the playoffs that start next Friday, March 3rd at Royal LePage Place.

West Kelowna will look to pick up their third win against the Silverbacks this season and there has been plenty of success for one player in particular against Salmon Arm this season as Quin Foreman has torched the ‘Backs this season in the six games the two teams have played against each other. The Norwood, Massachusetts native has tallied four goals along with an impressive 11 assists for 15 points in just 6 games against the Silverbacks this season. The Dartmouth University commit continues to pace the Warriors in scoring as his 26 goals, 42 assists and 68 points all lead the team in each category.

The Salmon Arm Silverbacks come into Saturday night’s game with a 23-28-3-3 record and sit in 6th place in the Interior Division with 52 points and enter the game with a four-game winning streak with the latest victory in Duncan on Wednesday night against the Cowichan Valley Capitals. In a makeup game for a cancelled contest on February 10th, the Silverbacks made the trip to Vancouver Island for the rare single game road trip which saw them come away with a 3-1 victory over the Capitals. Nathan Iannone, former Capital Trevor Ayre and Elijiah Barriga all tallied in the win for the ‘Backs while Trevin Kozlowski got the start in net making 30 saves on 31 shots on the Silverbacks goal for his 9th win of the season.

The Silverbacks enter the night sitting 10th in the BCHL in scoring with 176 goals for this season in 57 games. 20-year-old forward and captain Carson Bolduc leads the team assists with 3 and overall points with 57 while another 20-year-old forward in Elijiah Barriga leads the team in goals with 27 along with 11 of those markers coming courtesy of the power play.

The ‘Backs have seen an improved performance in the crease over the past four games as the club has only allowed two goals in those four games with shutouts coming against Alberni Valley and Merritt with just one goal allowed in games against Penticton and Cowichan Valley. Nic Tallarico earned his first career shutout in a game against the Bulldogs while Trevin Kozlowski has carried the mail over the past three games in the crease. The Santa Clarita, California native owns a 0.67 goals against average along with a .979 save percentage, including one shutout, over his last three starts which have all been victories.

The Warriors and Silverbacks will drop the puck at 7:00 PM from the Shaw Centre with the pre-game show starting at 6:50 PM with the voice of the Warriors Trevor Miller with free audio on the Warriors Internet Network and live pay-per-view video available at www.hockeytv.com. Whether it is against the Silverbacks or Centennials, the Warriors will open their playoff schedule next Friday, March 3rd at Royal LePage Place. Tickets will be available for purchase at the Warriors office or by calling Kim at (250) 769-7051.

3 Thoughts: Warriors @ Centennials Game #57

The West Kelowna Warriors couldn’t capitalize on some 2nd period chances, especially on the power play, and ended up surrendering eight goals in an 8-3 loss to the Merritt Centennials on Friday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

JOE MARTIN PRE GAME

AUDIO HIGHLIGHTS

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3 THOUGHTS;

1) LACKING FINISH

The Warriors, I think, deserved better fate on a night that kind of got away from them in the 2nd period but one that was within reach if the power play could find a way to score in an opportune time. West Kelowna saw three 2nd period power plays, all in the opening 10 minutes of the period, go by the way side as they couldn’t find a way to get past Jacob Berger, who to his credit was very good in the 2nd period as he turned aside 16 shots. There have been plenty of times this season that the power play has been a big letdown for the Warriors and if they had have converted on one of the attempts, this game could’ve had a completely different outcome. To jump back to the start of the period, the Warriors need to cut down on shorthanded goals against, cause it’s getting a bit out of control for a team that already struggles with the man advantage, never mind allowing goals while up a man. Brett Jewell’s shorthanded marker in the 2nd period certainly at the time didn’t seem like a back breaker but turned out to be one. To add to the scoring problems for the Warriors, their goaltending has to come up in big spots and Gabriel Morency did the opposite of that on Friday. A couple of goals you can’t fault him for but when you need a big save, possibly on the breakaway goal by Jewell, Morency couldn’t get his team a timely stop, which the Warriors have seen all too often this season. Morency went 12/17 on Friday, just not good enough to give the Warriors a chance. Now mind you, all of this can’t be hung up on goaltending as it’s takes a full team to earn a win and the defense tonight for the Warriors, and you could argue over the past few games, has been something we are unaccustomed to seeing in the past.

2) THE NEED TO GET HEALTHY

This coincides with my last sentence on my first thought and big reason why the Warriors defense has been a bit off over the past few games and that’s been the fact that the defense just isn’t healthy. Take arguably the top two defensemen off of any other team and I’m sure the same result will happen that your team defense is going to struggle and such has been the case with the Warriors as Scott Allan and Nicholas Rutigliano try and return to the lineup. The Warriors need the size of Allan and the minute-eating capability of Rutigliano to get their strong defensive play back because having 5 D every night is taking a toll on this team, as it would on any team. I don’t mean to harp on the defense because I know each of the D are giving it the vest they have and are gassed after every single night with guys playing minutes they are unaccustomed too but it’s no question that the defensive breakdowns and breakaways we have seen over the past few games are very uncharacteristic and something we haven’t witnessed in West Kelowna for a long while. Getting healthy is the number one priority for the Warriors and hopefully it comes soon to avoid nights like the one the Warriors had on Friday night.

3) TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 8-3 loss to the Merritt Centennials on Friday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena were that the Warriors couldn’t find a way to score in a dominating opening 10 minutes of play in the 2nd period and needed some timely saves that were not there on this occasion. Credit to the Centennials who played a hard and fast game and got offense out of everywhere but I think this was a game that, if the finish was there, the Warriors could’ve seen go their way. Jacob Berger played a big part in the Merritt crease with some solid play in the middle stanza and was helped out by a pair of disallowed goals for the Warriors that could’ve changed the tide in this game but Merritt comes away with the win and these two teams could lock horns in the opening round of the playoffs just one week from now. The Warriors close out their regular season with a trip to the Shuswap to take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. West Kelowna needs a victory and a Trail loss (who play in Vernon tomorrow after a win on Friday night against the Vipers) to clinch 3rd place in the division and play the Silverbacks in the opening round of the playoffs. If the Warriors loss in any fashion on Saturday in Salmon Arm then it will be West Kelowna and Merritt in the first round. A big game for the Warriors to try and right the ship from Friday.

Warriors Chase For 3rd Place Continues In Merritt Tonight

west-kelowna-shield-logo vs. merritt-centennials

The West Kelowna Warriors conclude their regular season schedule this weekend with a pair of road games beginning in the Nicola Valley on Friday night as they take on the Merritt Centennials from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

LISTEN

WATCH

Season Series:

Tuesday, September 27th @ Royal LePage Place (5-1 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, December 9th @ Royal LePage Place (3-2 Warriors/OT) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, December 10th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (4-2 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, January 6th @ Royal LePage Place (4-1 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, January 7th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (4-1 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, February 3rd @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (6-2 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, February 24th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:30 PM)

The Warriors come into Friday night’s action looking to return to the win column as they fell in their final regular season game on home ice by a 5-1 score to the Penticton Vees on Tuesday night. Quin Foreman scored for the Warriors in the opening period of play but that was all for the offense as the Vees rattled off five straight goals for the victory at Royal LePage Place, their 7th against the Warriors this season. Gabriel Morency started in goal for the Warriors and made 28 saves on 33 shots in his 3rd loss of the season.

The Warriors and Centennials close out their regular season series tonight with the possibility that these two teams could see each other in about a week’s time in the first round of the BCHL playoffs. The Warriors are 4-2 against the Cents this season but Merritt did win their last meeting in early February by a 6-2 score. Connor Sodergren and Jon Russell tallied for the Warriors while Cole Demers got the start in goal, turning aside 32 of 37 shots in the defeat.

tale-of-the-tape-vs-mer-feb-24

With just two games remaining in the BCHL regular season for West Kelowna, 3rd place in the Interior Division is a hot commodity. The Warriors and Trail Smoke Eaters are tied with 56 points for that 3rd spot with West Kelowna owning the tie breaker between the two teams with more wins and cannot fall to any worse than 4th place in the division, securing home ice advantage in the opening round after their win last Saturday versus Victoria. For those that scoreboard watch, the Smokies finish the season with a home-and-home series against the Vernon Vipers beginning at Cominco Arena tonight in Trail.

Tuesday night was yet another rough one for the Warriors in the special teams department as the penalty kill yielded three goals and the power play went 0/4. The Warriors sit 16th in the BCHL on the man advantage at 13.7% and has allowed 13 shorthanded goals against, second most in the league behind the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (15). The penalty kill sits in 14th place at 77.0% and will be in tough tonight facing off against the 3rd ranked power play of the Merritt Centennials.

The Merritt Centennials enter Friday night with a 22-25-2-8 record sitting in 5th place in the Interior Division with 54 points. The Cents come in their final regular season game tonight off of a 3-2 victory against the Surrey Eagles on Wednesday night in South Surrey. Chase Bell, Zach Court and Nick Fidanza all scored in the game with Fidanza’s 3rd period shorthanded goal being the difference. Colten Lancaster picked up the win, his 5th victory of the season, as he made 29 saves on 31 shots.

The Cents sit with 175 goals for this season, ranking 12th in the BCHL in scoring with Zach Risteau leading the team in points with 50 in 52 games played this season. Risteau leads the team in goals as well as his 26 paces the Cents, along with 11 coming on the power play. The Lakeville, Minnesota native received some high distinction from the BCHL on Thursday as he was named as the Interior Division nominee for the Rookie of the Year award. Another import player for the Cents, Cade Gleekel, leads the team in assists with 45 in his 56 games played this season.

The Centennials have seen a recent shift in the crease over the last three games as Colten Lancaster has led the Cents to two victories in the last three games and he has been outstanding in those games. The Kelowna, BC native owns a 1.68 goals against average in his last three games while stopping 101 of 106 shots on goal in that time, good for a .953 save percentage.

The Warriors and Cents are slated to drop the puck at 7:30 PM from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena with the pre-game show taking place at 7:20 PM with free audio available on the Warriors Internet Network and live pay-per-view video at www.hockeytv.com. The Warriors close out their regular season schedule on Saturday night when they head to the Shaw Centre to take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

BCHL Award Nominees (And Predicting The Winners)

awards

The BCHL announced the nominees for the annual league awards on Thursday which was the result of each team’s coach casting a vote for their picks to reveal the nominees. The coach’s will go through a second round of voting to determine the winners for each award as it was narrowed down to one player from each division which will be awarded next week before the playoffs.

I thought I’d try my hand at predicting the award winners and also give my picks for each of the awards and give some insight on my selections. I’ll pick a player from each division and pick a winner from my selections and also try and predict the winner from the BCHL’s official picks.

BCHL NOMINEES

Most Valuable Player (Vern Dye Memorial Trophy):

My Picks:

  • Interior: Mat Robson (Penticton Vees)
  • Mainland: Brendan Harris (Wenatchee Wild)
  • Island: Matthew Galajda (Victoria Grizzles)

Winner from my picks: Mat Robson (Penticton Vees)

Prediction on BCHL winner: Brendan Harris (Wenatchee Wild)

It’s hard to argue with the BCHL’s selection of nominees for the MVP award and I agree fully on the pick but I think the winner for this award should be Vees netminder Mat Robson, and not just given his (and his team’s) dominance of the Warriors this season but he has been in the top three in the league in every big statistical category this season. My opinion is that the winner will be Brendan Harris from Wenatchee because of his strong year with assists and being possibly the best playmaker in the league along with the fact that a goalie hasn’t won a MVP award since Mitch Gilliam did in Chilliwack in 2013. But if there was a year for a goalie to win award, this would be it with Harris nearing 100 points, likely to get there this weekend, but still not at the points totals we’ve seen in year’s past.

Rookie of the Year (Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy):

My Picks:

  • Interior: Grant Cruikshank (Penticton Vees)
  • Mainland: Brendan Budy (Langley Rivermen)
  • Island: Cam Donaldson (Powell River Kings)

Winner from my picks: Brendan Budy (Langley Rivermen)

Prediction on BCHL winner: Cam Donaldson (Powell River Kings)

I have one change in my nominees and again in the winners of this award but rookie of the year is always such a tough one for me. No disrespect to Cam Donaldson (who I ultimately think will win the award) but having an 18-year-old win the award is a bit of a stretch on the term rookie. I know it’s classified as the player playing his first year of junior ‘A’ hockey but there are some 97’s and 96’s on the rookie’s list which is crazy to me. Zach Risteau is having a fantastic season for the Cents but I think Grant Cruikshank should have been the Interior Division nominee as his 30+ goals speaks for itself but the ultimate winner of this award should be Langley’s Brendan Budy. The 16-year-old has had a standout season with 44 points and being so young, it makes all the sense in the world to award him as the league’s best rookie.

Top Defenseman Trophy:

  • Interior: Michael Ufberg (Vernon Vipers)
  • Mainland: Tyler Anderson (Prince George Spruce Kings)
  • Island: Jake Stevens (Victoria Grizzlies)

Winner from my picks: Tyler Anderson (Prince George Spruce Kings)

Prediction on BCHL winner: Tyler Anderson (Prince George Spruce Kings)

Just like the MVP nominees, it’s tough to argue the nominees put up for defenseman of the year although I’m a bit surprised not to see Vees D-man Griffin Mendel nominated but I agree that Ufberg is the right pick. I think Tyler Anderson may be one of the most improved players in the league from his time when he got to the Warriors from last season to now as his offensive side has flourished in PG and I feel like many coaches will agree and reward him with the honour and it would be deserving for a kid who’s had a fantastic year so far. He’s had plenty of accomplishments in leading the league goals from a d-man and committing to Lake Superior State a couple of weeks which I believe will be capped off with a big piece of hardware.

Most Sportsmanlike Player (Bob Fenton Trophy)

  • Interior: Michael Regush (Merritt Centennials)
  • Mainland: Darius Davidson (Surrey Eagles)
  • Island: Jake Stevens (Victoria Grizzlies)

Winner from my picks: Jake Stevens (Victoria Grizzlies)

Prediction from BCHL winner: Brendan Harris (Wenatchee Wild)

I feel that this is an award that could be handed out to some teams and some players that haven’t gotten much recognition in the awards voting, although it’s tough to argue with picks like Donaldson and Harris who only have 14 PIMS each this season. I think Jake Stevens would be a great selection especially the fact that he’s a defenseman and plays plenty of minutes and hard minutes against some teams best lines and only has 14 PIMS this season. That’s pretty impressive. But my feel is that Brendan Harris will win the award given that he’s the leading scorer in the league but I think it’s something that should  change down the road in regards to voting.

Coach of the Year:

  • Interior: Cam Keith (Trail Smoke Eaters)
  • Mainland: Bobby Henderson (Langley Rivermen)
  • Island: Craig Didmon (Victoria Grizzlies)

Winner from my picks: Cam Keith (Trail Smoke Eaters)

Prediction from BCHL winner: Bliss Littler (Wenatchee Wild)

My picks differ a bit from the BCHL’s which I don’t think there’s any question that Craig Didmon should be nominated in the Island because of the work he’s done with the Grizzlies this season. In the Mainland, Bobby Henderson’s Langley Rivermen are going to be a stiff test for Chilliwack in the opening round of the playoffs and I don’t think he gets enough credit for what he’s done with that team this season. I know Bliss Littler has done a fantastic job with the Wild this season and they sit 1st in the BCHL (why I think he will win the award) but Wenatchee had plenty of help returning from last year where Langley didn’t have as much in the way of returnees, not to mention the caliber of returning players Wenatchee got back. The biggest difference in selections that I have is in the Interior. There’s no doubt Fred Harbinson has done a great job with the Vees this season but Cam Keith should get as much credit for what he’s done with the Smoke Eaters, who are in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. He’s got them playing terrific hockey and would make as a great pick for coach of the year.

 

 

3 Thoughts: Vees @ Warriors Game #56

The West Kelowna Warriors endured a rough 2nd period and three power play goals against in a 5-1 loss against the Penticton Vees in their regular season home ice finale on Tuesday night.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

FRED HARBINSON PRE GAME

CAVIN TILSLEY 100TH GAME

HIGHLIGHTS

Game photos from Tuesday night provided by Ken Reid of Greystoke Photography. Check out his FACEBOOK PAGE along with his WEBSITE

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3 THOUGHTS:

1) SPECIAL LETDOWN

There wasn’t much in the way of positives after the first period in Tuesday night’s loss for the Warriors on home, a bit of a disappointing one given the fact that it was the final regular season game at Royal LePage Place this year. The Warriors started the game with great jump and opened the scoring and actually led this game after 20 minutes. But after that, I’m not really sure what to say. It’s almost as though the Warriors lost complete control of the game and their old arch rival special teams came back into play and the Warriors couldn’t rebound from a four-goal second period by the Vees, one that included two power play goals and a shorty, the real back breaker in this game. After a couple of weeks of good special teams play, including a very good penalty kill, went to waste on Tuesday with the PK giving up three goals and the power play going 0/4 and giving up the SIXTH shorthanded goal to the Vees this season. Special teams has been the number one issue for the seven losses on the year to Penticton and it came to a head on Tuesday night as the Warriors couldn’t overcome a 2nd period shorthanded goal that gave the Vees their first lead of the game and they never looked back. A good effort through 20 minutes but that was about it and 20 minutes isn’t good enough to beat any teams in this league, nevermind the top team in the Interior Division.

2) ANOTHER STRONG TURNOUT

As much as the play on the ice wasn’t as the Warriors hoped, the support from the City of West Kelowna over the past two home games has been fantastic. To get 1100+ people packed into RLP on a Tuesday night was another fantastic atmosphere to be apart of, coupled with the awesome crowd that came forth on Saturday when the Warriors hosted the Grizzlies. This includes the fans that stuck around post game to catch the awards ceremony as the Warriors have seen nearly 2500 people fill the seats of Royal LePage Place in their last two home games. I personally hope that the crowds continue to be strong as the playoffs get going next week with the Warriors securing home ice advantage in the first round with games 1 and 2 taking place at RLP on Friday March 3rd and Saturday March 4th. It’s been a tremendous last two games at RLP this season and I’m hoping the support remains strong for the Warriors into what will hopefully be another long playoff run.

3) TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 5-1 loss to the Vees in their final regular season home game on Tuesday night is that the Warriors started strong but failed to capitalize on the momentum and dropped their seventh game to the Vees, allowing Penticton to sweep the season series. The Warriors weren’t ready to play from period number two onward whether that was in net, in their own zone or offensively and especially when it came to the special teams play. This year it seems as though the Vees have gotten into the heads of the Warriors and once West Kelowna gets behind, they can’t find a to get back, which makes the 3rd place position in the Interior Division all the more important. I’m sure the Warriors, if they advance through round one of the playoffs, would rather see the Vernon Vipers than having to face the Vees. The Warriors finish out their regular season schedule with a pair of road games starting on Friday night against the Merritt Centennials before their final game of the regular season on Saturday against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.