The West Kelowna Warriors return to the Interior with their sixth matchup of their season series against the Vernon Vipers at Kal Tire Place on Wednesday night.
Friday, September 17th @ Royal LePage Place (3-1 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)
Saturday, October 8th @ Royal LePage Place (3-2 Vipers) (BOXSCORE)
Friday, November 18th @ Royal LePage Place (3-2 Warriors/OT) (BOXSCORE)
Friday, December 2nd @ Kal Tire Place (6-1 Vipers) (BOXSCORE)
Friday, January 20th @ Royal LePage Place (2-1 Vipers) (BOXSCORE)
Wednesday, February 1st @ Kal Tire Place (7:00 PM)
Saturday, February 11th @ Kal Tire Place (6:00 PM)
The Warriors come into Wednesday night’s action winless in their last five games and coming off of a tough road trip. The Warriors lost 7-2 scores in both Victoria and Powell River before a 3-2 overtime loss in Chilliwack to the Chiefs on Sunday. Connor Sodergren and Chase Dubois tallied for the Warriors as an undermanned group was able to pick up a point at the end of their road trip. Gabriel Morency got the start in goal for the Warriors and was excellent, making 45 saves on 48 shots in the overtime defeat.
The Warriors and Vipers play their sixth meeting of the season against one and other with Vernon taking three of the five meetings so far this season. The latest in late January was a 2-1 victory for the Vipes as Brett Stapley scored two 2nd period goals countered by a late Quin Foreman goal in the middle period but the Warriors fell short of finding the equalizer. Cole Demers got the start against his former club as he made 35 saves on 37 shots in the losing effort.
The Warriors get some good news on the injury front as a pair of players will return to the lineup in the likes of defensemen Jake Harrison and forward Jonas Gordon as both missed last weekend’s three games. The Warriors will still be without captain Nicholas Rutigliano, Cavin Tilsley, Peter Tomaras, Chase Stevenson and now Jared Marino who was hurt in Sunday’s action. Forwards Jon Van Der Molan and Tyler Chavez-Leech have been called up from the Revelstoke Grizzlies as AP’s while 15-year-old defensemen Connor Horning will fill in on the back end from the Pursuit of Excellence Midget Prep team.
Chase Dubois comes into Wednesday night with goals in each of his last three games and has 14 goals in his rookie campaign. The Williams Lake, BC native sits in 10th in rookie goal scoring in the BCHL with those 14 goals and has his 5th point streak of up to three games this season. Dubois sits in 4th in team scoring with 26 points along with being tied for 3rd on the team with three power play goals, including his PPG on Sunday in Chilliwack.
West Kelowna is in a dog fight for a playoff spot as the season comes down to it’s final month with February 1st upon us. The Warriors have 12 games slated for the month of February with just four of those games coming at home and each of the final four weeks of the season holding three games per week. The Warriors currently sit in 4th place in the Interior Division with 46 points, tied with the Merritt Centennials and just four points away from the 3rd place Trail Smoke Eaters but also just five points ahead of the 6th place Salmon Arm Silverbacks with a lot of jousting for playoff position remaining.
The Vernon Vipers enter Wednesday’s contest with a 26-15-4-4 and have won three games in a row with victories over Penticton, Nanaimo and the most recent against Prince George. The Vipers used a four-goal third period to come from behind to defeat the Spruce Kings 5-4 in double overtime om Sunday with Ryan Brushett tallying two goals (including the game-winner) & Jimmy Lambert, Cameron Trott and Steven Jandric adding singles in the victory. Ty Taylor got the call-in goal for the Vipers as he made 28 saves on 32 shots for his 12th victory of the season.
Vernon has been one of the hottest teams in the BCHL since the beginning of December and enjoyed a 6-3-2-0 record in the month of January to vault themselves to 60 points and 2nd place in the Interior Division, just six points back of the Penticton Vees for first place in the division. The Vipers have seven of their last nine games of the season on home ice at Kal Tire Place where the team holds a record of 14-5-1-2 in that building.
The Vipers have scored 155 goals on the season, ranking them in a tie for 9th in the BCHL in goal scoring and are led in points by 2nd-year forward Steven Jandric. The University of Alaska-Fairbanks commit leads the team with 22 goals and 44 points so far this season. 17-year-old forward Brett Stapley leads the club in assists with 33 and also leads the team in points against the Warriors with six so far this year in four games versus West Kelowna, including four goals.
The puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM at Kal Tire Place in Vernon tonight with the pre-game show going at 6:50 PM with free audio on the Warriors Internet Network or watch live on pay-per-view at www.hockeytv.com. The Warriors wrap up their six-game stretch away from home on Friday night when they head to the Nicola Valley to take on the Merritt Centennials.