The West Kelowna Warriors head to Chilliwack today to open up the 2016 Bauer BCHL Showcase tonight in a BCHL Finals rematch against the Chilliwack Chiefs.
The Warriors and Chiefs meet for the first time since their six game BCHL Final came to an end April 23rd with the West Kelowna skating around Royal LePage Place victorious. 7 players return from the Warriors and 10 remain from the Chiefs as they head into this matchup tonight.
West Kelowna will look to make it back-to-back victories after their 3-1 win on Saturday night against the Vernon Vipers. Nick Rutigliano, Quin Foreman and Mitch Barker scored in the triumph for the Warriors with new comer Xavier Burghardt making 25 saves on 26 shots for his first BCHL win.
The Warriors will start Burghardt in goal again tonight against the Chiefs with what I would imagine to be Shane Farkas likely starting tomorrow afternoon’s game against the Coquitlam Express with a quick turnaround. The Warriors also get Parm Dhaliwal back in the lineup as he’s missed the last two games with an injury which means Daly Hamilton will be the odd one out tonight.
The Chiefs come into tonight’s game with a 2-1 record, just as the Warriors do, and have an identical 11 goals scored but have only given up 8. Chilliwack defeated the Langley Rivermen in their re-opening of the George Preston Arena with a 6-3 win followed by a 4-1 win on the road against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks before the Rivermen returned the favour, beating the Chiefs in Chilliwack’s home opener by a 4-1 score.
The Chiefs, as mentioned, have 10 returning players highlighted by captain Jordan Kawaguchi. This will be the Kelowna native’s 2nd season wearing the “C” and has already posted 6 points in 3 games. Returning defensemen Connor McCarthy also spearheads the team lead in scoring with six points. Olivier Arseneau, Jesse Lansdell, Jake Smith, Kale Kane, Linden Hora, Aaron O’Neill, Kohen Olischefski and Nolan Zweep round out the returning core for always-potent Chiefs.
The Chiefs goal has a new look to it as Aiden Pelino is off to college after two seasons in the crease and 20 year-old, who I imagine will get the start tonight, Mark Sinclair and Robert Jacobson, brother to former Chief netminder David Jacobson will handle the goaltending responsibilities for Chilliwack this season.
This game kicks off a crazy Showcase schedule for the Warriors, playing twice in a span of 18 hours with a 7:30 pm puck drop tonight and a 1:00 pm face-off Thursday afternoon against the Coquitlam Express. As always, the games can been live on FASTHockey pay-per-view or listen for free with audio on the Warriors Internet Network with pre game for tonight’s contest starting at 7:20 pm.