The West Kelowna wrapped up their pre season on Saturday night in Merritt with a 6-3 loss before they hit the ice on Friday night at Royal LePage Place for their much anticipated home opener against the Trail Smoke Eaters.
1) PRE SEASON WRAP
The Warrior brass has to be happy with what they saw in the pre season, despite their 2-3-1 record in the six game exhibition schedule, including back-to-back losses at the hands of the Merritt Centennials. The intensity of their training camp was very high from not only the rookies and recruits looking to prove themselves, but the veterans of the club as well. Though this year’s version of the Warriors isn’t quite as big as last year’s club, the team will not lack any compete or intensity as the vets have done a great job at showing the newcomers how Warrior hockey is played.
Overall, I thought it was a good pre season for the defending National Champs for the staff to get a good, long look at some players on the fringe of roster spots before Friday night’s home opener. The Warriors open the year with tough tests against the Smokies for a home-and-home, followed by a Saturday night tilt against the Vernon Vipers at RLP on September 18th but having a six-game pre season to get everyone into game shape should help in making the first few games of the season look a little less like pre season.
2) LEADERSHIP CORE ANNOUNCED
The Warriors announced their leadership group on Wednesday as assisting captain Nick Rutigliano will be alternate captains Connor Sodergren, Quin Foreman and Tyler Anderson. The twenty-year-old assisting cast will be a huge part of this team this season and I like the way head coach Rylan Ferster went with handing out the “A’s”. Sodergren and Foreman will round things out nicely up front while Rutigliano and Anderson will be a strong voice and presence on the backend.
Sodergren already showing he is worthy of that ‘A’ with the fight he had on last Friday against Merritt, standing up for his defensemen after Brett Jewell collided knee-on-knee with a Warrior d-man. Anderson also wasn’t afraid to dish out some punches earlier in the pre season in Salmon Arm when the ‘Backs made a big hit inside the Warriors zone and Anderson dropped the mitts with the hitter Ryley Booth. So this team will not lack anything in the department of standing up for your teammates with the choices for the alternate captains.
3) FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
In what seems like it has been the shortest and longest offseason for the Warriors, the real deal gets underway on Friday with a huge night in West Kelowna planned. Banners will hit the rafters for the first time at RLP to honour the Warriors Interior Division Championship, BCHL Championship, Western Canada Cup Championship and RBC Cup National Championship. It should be an electric atmosphere at RLP and a home opener that may be the biggest in team history (this game and the first ever game in Warrior history are a close bid for first).
The game on Friday kicks off the Warriors schedule that sees them travel to Trail on Saturday after Friday night’s festivities. The Warriors have a lot of fantastic things planned for Friday’s home opener that Director of Business Operations Alex Draper has had his hands full with for the last month or so. This is one game you will not want to miss, whether you’re at RLP or listening/watching at home.
We will have live coverage of the game on Friday night at 6:50 PM as myself and Sheldon Bank will be on for free with audio on the Warriors Broadcast Network or you can watch live pay-per-view footage of the game on FASTHockey.com. The same set up will occur for Saturday’s game in Trail, a 7:00 PM puck drop and 6:50 PM pre game show.