The West Kelowna Warriors play their third game in six games as they take on the Vernon Vipers for the final time in the regular season at Kal Tire Place on Saturday 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 (4-3 Warriors/OT) (BOXSCORE)
Saturday, February 11th @ Kal Tire Place (6:00 PM)
The Warriors come into Saturday night after an impressive 4-0 shutout victory up north against the Prince George Spruce Kings on Thursday night after a long day of travel. Jon Russell tallied twice in the win for the Warriors including a shorthanded marker while Cavin Tilsley and Braiden Epp each scored against their former club for the Warriors 25th win of the season. Gabriel Morency made 33 saves for his first BCHL shutout and the 2nd of the season for the Warriors.
The Warriors and Vipers each have three wins in the season series against one another with the West Kelowna winning the latest battle by a 4-3 score in overtime as Parm Dhaliwal played the hero just 48 seconds into the overtime period. Connor Sodergren, Quin Foreman and Braiden Epp each added first period goals in the victory for the Warriors with former Viper Cole Demers making 35 saves on 38 shots for the win, their first in Vernon all season.
Secondary scoring has taken a big step for the Warriors over the past few games and it has been spearheaded by Jon Russell as the Kamloops, BC native has four goals in his last three games, including a pair of goals on Thursday night in Prince George. Russell now has four goals and six points in his last four games and has been helped out by teammates Jordan Todd who has a goal and three points in his last two games with Cavin Tilsley also helped out offensively with two goals in his last three games played.
The Warriors look like they will get a big addition back in their lineup for Saturday night as captain Nicholas Rutigliano is slated to return to action for the first time since January 21st against the Penticton Vees, a span of eight games in which the Warriors record was 3-4-0-1 in that span. Warriors defenseman Scott Allan will be a game-time decision for tonight after missing Thursday night’s contest while forwards Peter Tomaras and Jared Marino remain sidelined. Cole Demers is slated to get the start against his former club and in 10 games played with West Kelowna this season, Demers has a 4-6 record along with a 3.23 GAA and a .911 SV%.
The Vernon Vipers enter Saturday night with a 27-17-4-5 record and sit 2nd in the Interior Division with 63 points and are coming in off of a 3-1 loss on home ice on Friday against the Wenatchee Wild. The Vipers surrendered the first three goals of the game before Austin Adamson got the lone Vernon goal on the night. Darion Hanson was very good for the Vipers in the defeat as he made 44 saves on 47 shots against the BCHL’s top team.
The Vipers sit at 164 goals for in 53 games played this season which ranks them 10th in the BCHL in goals for and are led in goals and points by second-year forward Steven Jandric as his 25 goals and 47 points are tops among the Vipers. 18-year-old forward Brett Stapley leads the club with 31 assists on the season and ranks 3rd on the team in points with 42 in his 47 games played this season. Austin Adamson is finding some offensive success over the last few games as the 20-year-old has six goals and eight points over his last seven games and has points in six of those seven contests.
Special teams have been good all season with the Vipers ranking 6th in the BCHL with a 22.3% power play compared to the Warriors whose power play sits at 13.5% and ranks 16th in the league. As for the penalty kill, the Vipers have been around the top of the league all season long and rank 3rd in the BCHL with a 83.8% PK while the Warriors PK has struggled but did play well in Prince George going 7/7 and increased their percentage to 76.4% sitting at 15th in the BCHL.
The Warriors and Vipers are slated to drop the puck at 6:00 PM from Kal Tire Place with the pre-game show starting at 5:50 PM with free audio available on the Warriors Internet Network and pay-per-view video at www.hockeytv.com. The Warriors play their third of four in a row on the road next Wednesday as they take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.