Warriors Head North For Lone Visit In PG With Spruce Kings

west-kelowna-shield-logo vs. prince-george-spruce-kings

The West Kelowna Warriors make the trek up north today as they take on the Prince George Spruce Kings at the Rolling Mix Concrete Arena on Thursday night.

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Season Series:
Sunday, November 6th @ Royal LePage Place (6-1 Spruce Kings) (BOXSCORE)
Thursday, February 9th @ Rolling Mix Concrete Arena (7:00 PM)

The Warriors look to get back into the win column on Thursday night after a 5-3 loss to the Langley Rivermen on Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place. Connor Sodergren, Chase Dubois and Braiden Epp all scored in the losing cause for the Warriors as Langley iced the game with an empty net goal in the final minute to pull away with the victory. Cole Demers got the call-in goal for the Warriors and made 41 saves on 45 shots for his 14th loss of the season.

The Warriors and Spruce Kings have met once this season and it came at Royal LePage Place in early February with Prince George coming away with the victory by a 6-1 score. Blake Coffey scored the lone goal, shorthanded, in the defeat for the Warriors while Shane Farkas turned aside 27 of 33 shots in the loss. Former Warriors Tyler Anderson and Brett Mennear scored against their former club with Anderson picking up two goals and a first star effort while Mennear had a goal and two assists and earned a 2nd star performance.

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It’s a homecoming for a pair of Warriors as both Braiden Epp and Cavin Tilsley return back to Prince George for the first time since being acquired from the Spruce Kings. Epp, the PG native, suited up for 176 career regular season games with Prince George and spent parts of four season with the club, collecting 41 goals and 80 points during his time with the Spruce Kings while spending all of his time up north growing up and playing minor hockey. Tilsley spent parts of two seasons with PG as the Delta, BC native played in 78 games with the Spruce Kings tallying 12 goals and 30 points over that span.

Special teams played a big part of the game on Tuesday night and is an area in which the Warriors will look at and need to improve upon. West Kelowna sits 16th in power play percentage at 13.5% as they have scored 27 goals on 200 tries on the man advantage while their penalty kill, which went 2/5 in the game on Tuesday night against Langley, is ranked 16th as well in the BCHL at a 75.7% efficiency. This season will mark the first time the Warriors have ranked outside of the top 10 in PK percentage since the 2013/14 season and the first time since the 2007/08 season that the team will fall out of the top 10 in PP percentage.

The Warriors continue to try and search to get healthier as the regular season nears it’s close with just eight games remaining. Jonas Gordon will return to the lineup after missing two games with an upper body injury but the club did loss the likes of Scott Allan in Tuesday’s game as he will not play tonight alongside fellow defenseman and captain Nicholas Rutigliano plus forwards Jared Marino and Peter Tomaras remain sidelined. Affiliate players brought up to help the Warriors tonight will be 17-year-old forward Juanre Naude, who tallied his first BCHL point with an assist on Tuesday night, and 15-year-old defensemen Connor Horning from the Pursuit of Excellence hockey academy.

The Prince George Spruce Kings enter Thursday with a 22-22-2-4 and sit 4th in the Mainland Division with 50 points and are coming off of a 7-3 loss to the Chilliwack Chiefs at the end of a three-game Mainland swing. Kyle Johnson netted a hat-trick in the game and provided the only scoring for the Spruce Kings while Aris Anagnostopolous made 32 saves on 39 shots in the losing cause, his first loss in four appearances this season. Before the loss to Chilliwack on the road trip, the Spruce Kings picked up back-to-back wins against the Surrey Eagles and Langley Rivermen.

In a strange scheduling oddity, the Spruce Kings have seen quite a bit of the road over the past few weeks and with the exception of tonight, the rest of the schedule will be road heavy as 15 of the last 16 games in the regular season for Prince George are away from the RMCA with tonight being their only home game left. The Spruce Kings are 3-4-0-1 to begin that stretch away from home and play their final seven games after tonight on the road.

Prince George sits in 7th in goal scoring with 190 goals for in 50 games played and are led in scoring by former Warrior and 20-year-old captain Brett Mennear who leads the team in goals (25), assists (46) and points (71). Another former Warrior is thriving up north as well in the likes of defenseman Tyler Anderson as he leads all BCHL defensemen with 17 goals this season and sits in 4th in scoring by defensemen with 43 points, nine points behind Langley’s Cameron Ginnetti for top spot in that regard.

The Warriors and Spruce Kings drop the puck at 7:00 PM with the pre-game show beginning at 6:50 PM with free audio on the Warriors Internet Network and live pay-per-view available at www.hockeytv.com. West Kelowna returns to the Interior for their final matchup of the regular season series against the Vernon Vipers at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.

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