The West Kelowna Warriors will look to get back into the win column on Saturday night when they host the Vernon Vipers at Royal LePage Place.
Friday, September 17th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
Saturday, October 8th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
Friday, November 18th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
Friday, December 2nd @ Kal Tire Place (7:00 PM)
Friday, January 20th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
Wednesday, February 1st @ Kal Tire Place (7:00 PM)
Saturday, February 11th @ Kal Tire Place (6:00 PM)
The Warriors are looking to avenge an 8-5 loss they suffered in Trail seven days ago. The night started well with Connor Sodergren scoring just 3:07 into the game but the Smokies would score four times in the 2nd period (and six unanswered midway through the game) and eventually pick up their first win of the season in their home opener.
Though it is hard to find the positives in an 8-5 loss, there were some individual performances that are worth noting. Marshall Wilton was arguably the best Warrior player, collecting his first BCHL goal and three points on the night. Peter Tomaras, despite only hitting the scoresheet once with an assist, was also one of the better Warriors on Saturday, showing his skill at penalty killing and protecting his own zone.
Now to look at tonight, the Warriors facing a team that they handled quite well last season, to say the least. West-K went 6-1 in seven games versus Vernon last year, including outscoring them by a 29-18 margin over that seven game span of a season ago. While the 6-1 record can be daunting, 3 of the 7 games between these two were one-goal games last season (4 if you include a 6-4 win for WK in February on an empty netter), so these two know how to keep the games tight.
By all accounts the Warriors look like they will be debuting their new goaltender tonight in the likes of ’97 born Xavier Burghardt. The Medicine Hat native comes over from the Kindersley Klippers of the SJHL, where he spent just four days on the roster before being acquired by the Warriors on Thursday. Burghardt spent last season with the Drumheller Dragons where he posted a 4.01 GAA and a .885 SV% with a 7-13-2 record.
The Vernon Vipers have started this year red hot, winning their first three games of the 216/17 season. The Vipes disposed of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks with back-to-back third period explosions of offense, defeating the ‘Backs 6-3 on opening night last Friday with three 3rd period goals and beating Salmon Arm at home last Saturday with four third period goals and erasing a 3-1 deficit before a victorious effort against the Coquitlam Express last night at Kal Tire Place as the Vipers won 4-1.
Vernon has returned 11 players from last year’s squad, which would be one of the highest returning rate of any other BCHL team, and the early results show the value of having a high turn over. The Vipers have scored 15 goals in their first 3 games (that’s a 5 goal a game average) and are led in scoring in the early season by Alaska-Fairbanks commit Jimmy Lambert who has 2 goals and 6 points thus far. A returnee from the Vipers that is receiving quite a bit of national attention is Jagger Williamson, who scored a ridiculous shorthanded goal against the Silverbacks, which you can view HERE.
Something that you don’t often see is how the Vipers have approached their goaltending this season with carrying two 17 year-old netminders. Ty Taylor, who’s 6’3″ and played with the Delta WIld Hockey Academy (CSSHL) last season, started the first two games of the year and picked up a pair of wins while Cole Demers, who spent two seasons with the Okanagan Rockets (BCMML), got the nod last night and made 27 saves for his first BCHL win. It’s a guessing game on which ’99 the Warriors will see in goal against them tonight.
This is the first of seven meetings between the Warriors and Vipers this season. West Kelowna is back in action at the Bauer BCHL Showcase which is in Chilliwack and will play the host Chiefs at 7:30 PM on Wednesday night before a quick turnaround to face-off against the Coquitlam Express at 1:00 PM on Thursday which makes their Showcase a short one. Every game can be seen live on pay-per-view FASTHockey or listen on the Warriors Internet Network (links above).