The West Kelowna Warriors conclude their regular season schedule this weekend with a pair of road games beginning in the Nicola Valley on Friday night as they take on the Merritt Centennials from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
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 (4-1 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)
Saturday, January 7th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (4-1 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)
Friday, February 3rd @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (6-2 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)
Friday, February 24th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:30 PM)
The Warriors come into Friday night’s action looking to return to the win column as they fell in their final regular season game on home ice by a 5-1 score to the Penticton Vees on Tuesday night. Quin Foreman scored for the Warriors in the opening period of play but that was all for the offense as the Vees rattled off five straight goals for the victory at Royal LePage Place, their 7th against the Warriors this season. Gabriel Morency started in goal for the Warriors and made 28 saves on 33 shots in his 3rd loss of the season.
The Warriors and Centennials close out their regular season series tonight with the possibility that these two teams could see each other in about a week’s time in the first round of the BCHL playoffs. The Warriors are 4-2 against the Cents this season but Merritt did win their last meeting in early February by a 6-2 score. Connor Sodergren and Jon Russell tallied for the Warriors while Cole Demers got the start in goal, turning aside 32 of 37 shots in the defeat.
With just two games remaining in the BCHL regular season for West Kelowna, 3rd place in the Interior Division is a hot commodity. The Warriors and Trail Smoke Eaters are tied with 56 points for that 3rd spot with West Kelowna owning the tie breaker between the two teams with more wins and cannot fall to any worse than 4th place in the division, securing home ice advantage in the opening round after their win last Saturday versus Victoria. For those that scoreboard watch, the Smokies finish the season with a home-and-home series against the Vernon Vipers beginning at Cominco Arena tonight in Trail.
Tuesday night was yet another rough one for the Warriors in the special teams department as the penalty kill yielded three goals and the power play went 0/4. The Warriors sit 16th in the BCHL on the man advantage at 13.7% and has allowed 13 shorthanded goals against, second most in the league behind the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (15). The penalty kill sits in 14th place at 77.0% and will be in tough tonight facing off against the 3rd ranked power play of the Merritt Centennials.
The Merritt Centennials enter Friday night with a 22-25-2-8 record sitting in 5th place in the Interior Division with 54 points. The Cents come in their final regular season game tonight off of a 3-2 victory against the Surrey Eagles on Wednesday night in South Surrey. Chase Bell, Zach Court and Nick Fidanza all scored in the game with Fidanza’s 3rd period shorthanded goal being the difference. Colten Lancaster picked up the win, his 5th victory of the season, as he made 29 saves on 31 shots.
The Cents sit with 175 goals for this season, ranking 12th in the BCHL in scoring with Zach Risteau leading the team in points with 50 in 52 games played this season. Risteau leads the team in goals as well as his 26 paces the Cents, along with 11 coming on the power play. The Lakeville, Minnesota native received some high distinction from the BCHL on Thursday as he was named as the Interior Division nominee for the Rookie of the Year award. Another import player for the Cents, Cade Gleekel, leads the team in assists with 45 in his 56 games played this season.
The Centennials have seen a recent shift in the crease over the last three games as Colten Lancaster has led the Cents to two victories in the last three games and he has been outstanding in those games. The Kelowna, BC native owns a 1.68 goals against average in his last three games while stopping 101 of 106 shots on goal in that time, good for a .953 save percentage.
The Warriors and Cents are slated to drop the puck at 7:30 PM from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena with the pre-game show taking place at 7:20 PM with free audio available on the Warriors Internet Network and live pay-per-view video at www.hockeytv.com. The Warriors close out their regular season schedule on Saturday night when they head to the Shaw Centre to take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.