The West Kelowna Warriors look to get back in the win column when they return home after a four-game stretch away from Royal LePage Place as they host the Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday night.
Friday, January 27th @ The Q Centre (7-2 Grizzlies) (BOXSCORE)
Saturday, February 18th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
The Warriors enter Saturday night coming off of being shutout for the second time this season, dropping a 5-0 decision to the Penticton Vees on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Despite hitting three posts in the game, the Warriors were held off the scoresheet while Cole Demers starting in goal, making two saves on five shots and picking up his 16th loss of the season before being relieved by Gabriel Morency who made 14 saves on 16 shots.
The Warriors and Grizzlies have played once this season with Victoria ending a four-game losing streak against West Kelowna with a 7-2 win at The Q Centre in late January. Braiden Epp and Chase Dubois each scored in the defeat that saw the Grizzlies score five 2nd period goals. Cole Demers started the game before being pulled for Gabriel Morency and after allowing three goals on eleven shots, Demers was brought back in. Cole made 29 saves on 33 shots total on the night while picking up the loss.
The shutout on Friday night was just the second for the Warriors on the season with their only other goose egg coming in Trail against the Smoke Eaters on December 30th, their first road game back after the Christmas break. The Warriors did follow up that performance with back-to-back 4-1 victories over the Merritt Centennials so they own a 1-0 record after being shutout this season.
Penalty killing has been on the rise for the Warriors over the past two weeks and was one of, if not the only, positive to come out of Friday night as the Warriors PK was a perfect 7/7 and has moved to 77.5% on the season. West Kelowna has killed off 20 of their last 21 penalties and has become more of the teams from the past in Warrior history when in regards to the penalty kill.
It’s one of the biggest nights of the season as the Warriors host their 8th annual Faith Night at Royal LePage Place on Saturday. The event is hosted by Warriors chaplain Pastor Don Richmond, who bought 150 tickets for just his own church for the evening as it is sure to be a fantastic night in support of all the churches in the West Kelowna and Kelowna communities.
The Victoria Grizzlies enter play on Saturday night with a 36-11-4-3 record and sit in first place in the Island Division standings with 79 points, six points ahead of the Powell River Kings for top spot. The Grizzlies are coming into West Kelowna off of a 4-2 victory over the Vernon Vipers on Friday night to begin their Interior swing, the third victory in a row for the “Grizz”. Timothy Friedmann, Cody Van Lierop, Keyvan Mokhtari and Nathan Looysen all tallied in the win while Matthew Galajda earned his 24th win of the season with 35 saves on 37 shots.
The Grizzlies sit 5th in the BCHL rankings in regards to goals for with 211 goals scored in 54 games played this season and are led in scoring by fourth-year forward Cole Pickup. The University of Nebraska-Omaha commit leads the club with 25 goals and 62 points so far this season in 49 games played. Defenseman Jake Stevens leads the team in assists with 42, helped by 11 power play assists and 8 coming while shorthanded.
The offence has been good for the Grizzlies this season but it has also been the play of their goaltenders as both Matthew Galajda and Tony Rehm are having great seasons between the pipes. Galajda sits 4th in the BCHL amongst fellow netminders in wins (24), goals against average (2.36) and he is 3rd in regards of save percentage with a .924. Backup goaltender Tony Rehm has been stellar as well, posting a 10-4-0 record in 15 games played to go along with a 2.16 GAA and a sparkling .933 SV%.
Victoria has been very good when it comes to playing on home ice this season but have had an equal amount of success when playing on the road as well. The “Grizz” are 20-6-1-1 when playing at The Q Centre in Victoria but are a very respectable 16-5-3-2 when playing on the road, picking up points in 21 of 26 road games this season. Scoring first has also been a big part of Victoria’s success this season as they boast a 27-4-3-2 record when scoring the game’s first goal.
The Warriors and Grizzlies drop the puck at 7:00 PM with tickets available for purchase at the Warriors office or by calling Kim at (250) 769-7051. The Warriors conclude their regular season home schedule on Tuesday night as they host their Interior Division rivals in the Penticton Vees at 7:00 PM.