The West Kelowna Warriors look to open 2017 on a winning note as they open up a home-and-home set with the Merritt Centennials on Friday night beginning at Royal LePage Place.
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 (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 enter play on Friday night after being shutout a week ago at Cominco Arena when they lost 4-0 to the Trail Smoke Eaters in the two teams regular season finale. Shane Farkas made 25 saves on 29 shots in the losing effort with the loss being ending the Warriors win streak at five games. The shutout was the first of the season for the Warriors and the first time they had scored no goals since March 9th, 2015 against Penticton, a span of 118 games.
The Warriors and Centennials met up for a home-and-home series just about a month ago with the Warriors coming away with wins in both of the games. The first was a 3-2 overtime win with Braiden Epp providing the late game heroics while the Warriors earned a gritty road victory the next night in Merritt by a 4-2 score. Jon Russell scored in the first period while third period goals from Stephen Kleysen, Michael Ryan and Braiden Epp powered the Warriors to the victory. Shane Farkas stopped 36 shots on 38 attempts toward goal for the victory.
West Kelowna was dealt yet another blow on the season as the team learnt that 17-year-old goaltender Shane Farkas would be leaving to head to Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL). To fill the spot in goal will be another 17-year-old as the Warriors have signed goaltender Cole Demers from the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League. Demers, a North Vancouver native, played in two games with the Rockets after being released by the Vernon Vipers earlier this season. Demers had very good numbers with the Vipers in his first Junior ‘A’ season, leaving with a 3-8-0 record along with a 3.20 GAA and a .905 SV%.
In addition to Demers, the Warriors will have another new face dawning big pads and goaltender equipment as goaltender Dorian Laganiere will join the team for the weekend as an affiliate. The Granby, Quebec native has split time between the Revelstoke Grizzlies and with the Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) this season. In 7 games with the Rockets, Laganiere owns a 0-6-1 record with a 3.70 GAA and a .902 SV%.
The two-game home-and-home set is a big one for both teams with the Warriors and Centennials tied in the standings at fourth place in the Interior Division at 37 points, with the Warriors having two games in hand on the Cents. West Kelowna has been playing better on home ice as of late, with wins in their last four straight games at Royal LePage Place and not allowing their opponents to score more than two goals over that span.
The Merritt Centennials come into Friday night with back-to-back wins over the BCHL’s worst team in the Coquitlam Express with a 7-1 win at home on New Year’s Eve before another 7-1 victory over the Express in Coquitlam on Wednesday night. Cade Gleekel tallied his first BCHL hat trick for the Cents with Zach Risteau adding two goals while Michael Regush and Henry Cleghorn adding singles for Merritt with Jacob Berger picking up his 11th win of the season, making 31 saves on 32 shots on goal.
The last time the Warriors saw the Cents, they were without arguably their best two players in the likes of Michael Regush and Tyler Ward but one of those top scorers has returned for the Cents with Regush returning from the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge. Ward still remains sidelined on injury reserve as the 18-year-old forward hasn’t played since October 21st against the Penticton Vees.
Import players have played a big part in the Cents success this season and none bigger right now than forward Cade Gleekel as the rookie forward is coming off of his first career BCHL hat trick in Coquitlam on Wednesday and has been hot as of late with points in seven of his last eight games. The Minneapolis, Minnesota native owns 13 goals and 32 points on the season and has six goals and 11 points in his last eight games played. Zach Risteau, a Lakeville, Minnesota native currently sits 2nd in team scoring behind Gleekel with a team high 19 goals and 31 points so far in 33 games played this season.
Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM at Royal LePage Place on Friday night before the scene shifts to Merritt and the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena on Saturday night for the rare start time of 8:00 PM. Tickets are available for purchase at the Warriors office or by calling Kim at (250) 769-7051.