The West Kelowna Warriors begin a September ending five game homestand at Royal LePage Place, which kicks off tonight against the Merritt Centennials.
Tuesday, September 27th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
Friday, December 9th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
Saturday, December 10th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)
Friday, January 6th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
Saturday, January 7th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (8:00 PM)
Friday, February 3rd @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)
Friday, February 24th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:30 PM)
The Warriors will be coming into this game playing with confidence as they are winners of their last three games in a row. A 3-1 win the last time the Warriors were at RLP over the Vernon Vipers was followed by back-to-back wins at the Bauer BCHL Showcase in a span of 18 hours. It started with a 5-2 win over the host Chilliwack Chiefs on Wednesday night with Quin Foreman recording a hat trick (in two different jerseys mind you) while the next day, just 15 hours after the win over the Chiefs, the Warriors handed the Coquitlam Express a 5-3 loss thanks to another two goals from Foreman (watch all of his showcase goals here):
This is the first of seven meetings between the Warriors and Centennials, a series in which the Warriors are hoping they can drastically change the outcome of over the previous years. Merritt has been the Warriors kryptonite over the past two seasons, holding a record of 4-8-2-0 against their foes from West-K. The Warriors are hoping this is the season they can pick up what could be critical victories against an always stingy Merritt team.
The Warriors will look to build off of their three game winning streak tonight when they host the Cents, the start of a tough homestand that sees Merritt, the Penticton Vees, Chilliwack Chiefs, Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Vernon Vipers come to town over a period stretching from September 27th to October 8th.
If newly minted BCHL Player of the Week Quin Foreman scores five goals again this week, the Warriors will be in great hands. But, quite obviously, they can’t bank on that but Foreman’s recent lamp-lighting program has sparked the Warrior offense to the tune of 21 goals for in the five games this season. The Foreman, Connor Sodergren and Mitch Martan line has looked potent over the last trio of games while veterans like Mitch Barker and Reed Gunville are finding the scoresheet on a regular basis.
One thing that I think is overlooked in all of this is the Warriors netminding. Xavier Burghardt has been solid since the Warriors acquired him last week and has been a good veteran presence for a younger goaltender in Shane Farkas to learn off of. Burghardt is 2-0 with a 1.50 GAA and a .953 SV% in the two games he’s played this season, small sample size but also against some stiff competition in the likes of the Vipers and Chiefs.
Warrior fans will also get their first look at new defensemen Blake Coffey, son of legendary NHLer Paul Coffey. Blake made his BCHL debut on Wednesday night in Chilliwack and will play his first home games on this homestand as the Warriors made room for him by releasing young defensemen Matt Monk.
The Centennials are have won twice, lost twice and tied so far this season. They tied 2-2 with Prince George on the opening night in the BCHL before rattling off two straight wins against the Trail Smoke Eaters followed by back-to-back losses at the BCHL Showcase to the Prince George Spruce Kings (7-2) and the Cowichan Valley Capitals (4-2), so who knows what to expect out of the Cents tonight.
Merritt is returning, what for it, TWELVE players from last season so you could say they have a veteran lineup. They are led by captain Brett Jewell, who also leads the team in points with 5, along with 2nd year forwards Tyler Ward (2-3-5) and Michael Regush (2-3-5). The Cents looked good in the two pre season games they played against the Warriors, winning both contests about three weeks ago.
The Cents goaltending, on paper and with one bad game against the Spruce Kings, has been a question mark thus far. Jacob Berger has an .886 SV% while returnee Colten Lancaster has an .880 SV%. Again, it’s only the end of September and numbers can be deceiving, especially with a 7 spot put up in one of the first five games.
This, as mentioned, is a big stretch of games for the Warriors and it gets no easier with the Penticton Vees (5-1-0-0) coming to town on Friday night. The game goes at 7:00 PM with pre game at 6:50 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and pay-per-view http://www.fasthockey.com.