3 Thoughts: Rivermen @ Warriors Game #14

The West Kelowna Warriors couldn’t strike on any of their 10 power plays but played well 5-on-5 and picked up a league-best 10th win with a 5-2 victory over the Langley Rivermen on Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

BOBBY HENDERSON PRE GAME

MATTHEW CAMPESE

Game photos from tonight provided by Julie Pringle of Snap Photography:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) A PENALTY BOX PARTY

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a game quite like the one on Tuesday night between the Warriors and Rivermen. A total of 10 power plays for the Warriors were unscored on, including a couple of lengthy 5-on-3’s, while Langley went 0/5 when up a man. I wrote about special teams before the puck dropped but I didn’t expect it to go in this direction with the Langley penalty kill being so dominant, not really allowing for many chances or good looks for the Warriors on the man advantage. The thing was, the Warriors penalty kill did the exact same thing. And one of the craziest stats for me tonight is that despite over half of the game being played with at least one player in the penalty box, every goal came while at even strength (mind you the Rivermen first goal happened a second or two after the PP expired but nonetheless). The game even got so crazy with penalties that Rivermen head coach and general manager Bobby Henderson was thrown out of the game in the 3rd period with about 10 minutes to play after the Warriors were heading onto their second 5-on-3 of the night. It was a bit all over the place trying to keep track of which team was shorthanded and who got what penalty and when (which makes me happy not to be a scorekeeper on this night) but one thing is for sure: the Warriors were the better team when playing at 5-on-5. The Warriors displayed good speed and skill throughout the entire night and limited a Langley attack to only 24 shots in the game with only 12 of those coming in the final two periods. On a night without one of their minute eating defenders in Tyler Jutting, the Warriors d-core did an excellent job at keeping the big, skilled Langley forwards to the outside and not getting a whole heck of a lot through to the net.

2) SPREAD OUT SCORING

You won’t be seeing much of just one line carrying the mail in the scoring department this season and that’s not a bad thing whatsoever. The Warriors may not have a scorer in the Top 20 of the BCHL scoring race but for this team, the scoring by committee attack has worked out very well thus far and saw four different goal scorers emerge on Tuesday night. It was nice to see Chase Dubois have a good game as the Warrior forward scored a pair of goals, including a breakaway goal in the 2nd period just moments after RJ Murphy tied the game at one. Dubois really had his legs going, drawing a penalty in the first period and was flying around the ice on Tuesday, As mentioned, RJ Murphy continued on his strong start to the season with his 5th goal of the year as he found the loose puck in a scramble and calmly deposited it into the back of the net. Jared Marino had been goalless in two games after scoring in three straight and got the eventual game winner tonight after some great work from his linemates to get the puck in deep and control from the goalline downward to get Marino his 6th of the season, and the team lead, with a nice little flick into the top half of the net. Peter Tomaras also found the back of the net with an empty netter which meant every line found twine on Tuesday night and that’s always the sign of a good night. The Warriors scoring attack, although sometimes not scoring very many, seems to be very balanced this season and echoing a comment made from Warriors head coach and general manager Rylan Ferster said pre game in our interview “We’re tough for any team to match up against because we don’t have one particular line that scores all our goals.” A good description of this Warriors team that rang true on Tuesday night.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 5-2 victory over the Langley Rivermen on Tuesday night at RLP is that this team is starting to settle in and get comfortable with each other and have been playing some great hockey out of the shoot to start the season. With the logjam that is the Interior Division, these cross-divisional games mean so much to collect as many points as you can because you never know how your own division is going to treat you and the Warriors won a 5-1 record when playing outside of their own division, pretty good record. Another quick stat for you, West Kelowna is 10-0 when leading after two periods of play this season, so a one-goal lead heading into the 3rd period was great to see with how good the Warriors have been in the game’s final frame. I thought the defense tonight was great and guys like Stephen Kleysen had monster nights filling in the shoes of Jutting, Garrett Ewert impressed me tonight, along with Nathan Reilly who picked up his first career BCHL point on a pass to Dubois for the breakaway goal. Up front, the captain Marino led the charge as he was so good down low in protecting the puck and giving that line an opportunity to cycle and be effective in creating space and open areas to get to in the offensive zone. Obviously the power play did not click in any way shape or form on Tuesday but the PK looked strong again, going from 91% to 92% on the season and overall a good win for a team wrapping up a 3 game in 6 day stretch of hockey.

The Warriors take on the Cowichan Valley Capitals in their return to action on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place to wrap up their four-game home stand. If you can’t make it to the rink, we’ll have the call for you on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com beginning with the pre-game at 6:45 PM with puck drop slated for 7:00 PM.

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3 Keys: Rivermen @ Warriors Game #14

 vs. 

The West Kelowna Warriors conclude their short two-game season series against the Langley Rivermen on Tuesday night at Royal LePage Place.

WATCH

LISTEN

Warriors vs. Rivermen 2017/18 Schedule:

Tuesday, September 26th @ George Preston Arena (BOXSCORE)

Tuesday, October 17th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

3 KEYS:

1) 👋 THERE, SPECIAL TEAMS

The special teams key is back and is yet another big key ahead of the Warriors tilt with the Langley Rivermen and I have a few reasons why special teams may reign supreme on this night. Langley has the league’s worst power play, operating at 9.5% with just 6 goals on 61 attempts. That man advantage has to go up against the Warriors #1 ranked PK, which sits at a 91.4% clip and went 4/4 on Sunday afternoon against the Nanaimo Clippers. As much as that is a lopsided look on the stats page, that’s why the game isn’t played on paper as the Riv’ have PPG’s in two of their last three games and has looked a lot more dangerous since the return of forward Angus Crookshank (which we will touch on later). The intriguing matchup to me is the Warrior PP against the Rivermen PK. West Kelowna’s man advantage is 4th in the BCHL at 22.4% and scored twice in the game against Langley just three weeks ago. Langley’s penalty kill enters tonight’s contest at 81.3%, which sits 13th in the league and again, is a win for the Warriors on paper but once the puck drops, anything can happen. As mentioned, the Warriors did score two power play goals against Langley 21 days ago at “The Lodge” but they were too little, too late as they came in the 3rd period with West-K already trailing by five in the game. Of more note, at least for myself in that game, was the three power plays the Warriors got in the opening period when the game was still in reach that they were unable to capitalize on. Langley is 5th in the league with 204 PIM’s and, much like Nanaimo, can get a bit undisciplined and the Warriors will need to take advantage of those opportunities when presented. The PP struck for a goal on Sunday afternoon with some solid puck movement and, against a struggling penalty kill, will look to keep the good times rolling.

2) BOUNCING BACK AGAINST THE RIV’

Since their last meeting was just three weeks ago, I think it’s plenty relevant to look back at that game and look at some of the things that will need to improve in order for the Warriors to beat the Rivermen for the first time in three meetings (which spans over a season and a bit). Nik Amundrud will look to keep his recent stretch of good hockey rolling with the start tonight against Langley. You could argue that the last game Amundrud wasn’t his sharpest would’ve been on September 26th in Langley and the 20-year-old netminder has used that performance and been lights out over the past couple of weeks. He’s improved his save percentage from .889 (after that game) to .917 entering Tuesday night and will be going up against a young, skilled and big Rivermen squad that recently got a jolt into their lineup. Crookshank, the University of New Hampshire commit, has come back from a recent injury and has 5 goals in 5 games this season. The 18-year-old was not on the roster when these two teams met three weeks ago and has been limited to just 40 games in his BCHL career due to injury but when he plays, he’s hard to contain. Another youngster who is tough to handle, and was on the 26th of September, is Brendan Budy. The Langley captain, committed to the college hockey power house University of Denver Pioneers, is having a terrific season to start with 6 goals and 18 points in just 13 games this season, good for 3rd in the BCHL behind Trail’s version of Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux (Ross Armour and Kale Howarth). Budy had a pair of goals in Langley against the Warriors three weeks ago and was by far the Riv’s best forward and the Warriors will have to be on “Budy Watch” to try and contain him, which could fall on the always reliable defensive line of Jared Marino, Cavin Tilsley and Bennett Norlin.

3) 60 OR MORE

A good 60 minute effort is required no matter what but tonight may last longer than the regulation 60 minutes allotts. In a stat that I don’t think I have ever seen before, Langley has gone to overtime in SEVEN (?!) of their thirteen games so far this season, that’s over half of their contests going the distance and then some. What might be even more head spinning is that the Rivermen dropped their first six games in overtime before finally, on a Crookshank marker, prevailed in the extra time over the Prince George Spruce Kings on Saturday night in Langley. The Rivermen have seen their last three games go to overtime and if you’re heading to the game on Tuesday night, you may get more hockey than what you originally paid for. Now obviously this doesn’t necessarily mean tonight’s matchup will get into overtime but I thought that was a crazy stat that needed to be shared. The Warriors will have to give a full 60 minute effort tonight, to get back to my original point, and playing in their home rink should help that. The George Preston Arena is a bit of a smaller ice sheet and lends to the Langley style of play much better as it’s easy to bang bodies in boards and play a more physical style. The Warriors can use their speed and style of play on their own ice sheet in order to try and pick up what would be their league leading 10th victory of the season if they can top the Rivermen on Tuesday night.

The Warriors and Riv’ drop the puck at 7 PM on Tuesday night at RLP with tickets available at the Warriors office or by calling (250) 769-7051. If you can’t make it down to the rink, or are just really like listening in, which is great!, I’ve got the call on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 PM.

3 Thoughts: Clippers @ Warriors Game #13

The West Kelowna Warriors got solid goaltending from Cole Demers and timely goal scoring in a 4-1 victory over the Nanaimo Clippers on Sunday afternoon at Royal LePage Place.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

DUSTIN DONAGHY PRE GAME

CLIPPERS BROADCASTER DAN MARSHALL

3 THOUGHTS:

1) DAZZLING DEMERS

Cole Demers has been outstanding so far this season, picking up his 4th win of the season on Sunday afternoon and looking very impressive in doing so. Demers made 34 saves on 35 shots in the victory and was the best Warrior on the ice this afternoon and continued on his magnificent season. The Kelowna, BC native was at his best in the 2nd period with the Warriors entering the period trailing by a goal. Two tallies in 13 seconds gave West Kelowna a one goal advantage and the Clippers pressed as the period went on, putting 15 shots toward the Warriors goal and Demers stood tall and stopped each and every one of them. His best (and flashiest) save of the afternoon may have come on a chance in the slot for Nanaimo as Jamie Collins was fed in the slot with his shot destined for the top corner but Demers had other ideas, flashing the leather and keeping the score in the Warriors favour. The Warriors netminder look cool and confident in the Warriors crease and had a great bounce back from his last start on Tuesday night against Surrey, where he only made one save on three shots before being relieved for Nik Amundrud. This game looked like it could’ve been going in the same direction as the first shot of the game was in the back of the net and just 45 seconds into the contest, the Warriors were trailing. But Demers shut the door, going 33/33 for the remainder of the afternoon and played a large part in the Warriors 9th victory of the season.

2) WINNING THE SPECIAL TEAMS BATTLE

The special teams battle doesn’t always signal a winner but about 75% of the team, the team that comes out on the right side of the special teams often goes home with two points and on this occasion, the Warriors did just that. West Kelowna scored once on the power play, which was a late insurance goal from Parm Dhaliwal and were a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill in the win. What’s even more impressive about that perfect PK was that the Warriors were missing a pair of their top penalty killers in the likes of Cavin Tilsley and Tyler Jutting, who both did not finish this afternoon’s game with injuries. Plenty of players stepped up in their absence, along with Cole Demers being the best penalty killer of all the Warriors, and helped out to not allow Nanaimo to get any momentum on any of their power plays. The Warriors PK continues to be outstanding, back at the top of standings and the PP is ranked 4th in the BCHL, something that will be a storyline on Tuesday night when the Warriors host the Langley Rivermen. One side note, while we’re talking about special teams and disipline, you might see late in the game (at the 15:07 mark of the 3rd period) that things got a little feisty and I’m not sure why things always have to get that way in games against Nanaimo. The Clippers are 2nd the BCHL in penalty minutes with 215 and I was in no way surprised when Jeremy Gervais decided to throw a high hit toward the head of Jordan Todd, starting a ruckus just outside of the Warriors bench and led to Jake Harrison dismantling AP forward Lance Vanroboys of the Clippers. I get that it’s been a tough trip and that these are kids and emotions get high but there is no need for that kind of play in the league. I think the BCHL really needs to take a hard look at player safety and start penalizing teams for their play if it is unruly, much like the way the Western Hockey League handles disipline.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 4-1 victory over the Nanaimo Clippers on Sunday afternoon at Royal LePage Place are that the Warriors got a solid bounce back from both their team and their netminder and got a big win to keep up with the tightly-wound Interior Division. The Warriors won the special teams battle and had Cole Demers be the better goaltender on this afternoon for a big win. I thought the depth players of the Warriors played well, guys like Peter Tomaras and Jordan Todd seemed to be strong on this occasion while guys like Wyatt Head and Nathan Reilly impressed on the back end while filling in some minutes with Tyler Jutting down in the 2nd period. As of right now, it’s too early to tell how serious the injuries to each are but the Warriors are hopeful to get both back in the lineup on Tuesday and how good that would be as both Tilsley and Jutting provide such a burst of energy and reliability in the Warriors lineup. Nonetheless, it was a solid victory for the Warriors on Sunday afternoon and tying the league lead with both the Trail Smoke Eaters and Vernon Vipers with 9 victories on the season.

The Warriors host the Langley Rivermen on Tuesday night as they return to action and play the 3rd of 4 on this home stand at RLP. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with the pre-game show beginning at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com as I’ll have the call.

3 Keys: Clippers @ Warriors Game #13

 vs. 

The West Kelowna Warriors look to close their weekend out on a winning note as they take on the Nanaimo Clippers in their lone visit to Royal LePage Place on Sunday afternoon.

WATCH

LISTEN

Warriors vs. Clippers 2016/17 Season:

Friday, October 22nd @ Frank Crane Arena (3-2 Clippers) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, December 17th @ Royal LePage Place (2-1 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Warriors vs. Clippers 2017/18 Schedule:

Sunday, October 15th @ Royal LePage Place (2:30 PM)
Saturday, January 6th @ Frank Crane Arena (6:00 PM)

3 KEYS:

1) GENERATING OFFENCE

Obviously scoring could be a key every single night because you need goals to win games but for a team like the Warriors who are struggling to score in their last few games, lighting the red lamp could make for the dam to burst and the floodgates to open. There is an opportunity to get the offence rolling in this game against a team in the Clippers that are 3rd in the BCHL with 204 penalty minutes and have the league’s 2nd to worst PK, operating at 72.2% on the season thus far. It would also make for a good time to get some of the Warriors top guns going in the likes of Parm Dhaliwal, Chase Dubois and Chase Stevenson, three extremely talented players that have been silenced over the last couple of games and could benefit from a big game. Those were three returning forwards that have the potential to be a big key in the Warriors offence as the year goes along and can provide a energy spark for the Warriors up front. Speaking of a spark, West Kelowna does get Matthew Campese back in the lineup after serving a six-game suspension for leaving the bench to join an altercation in Langley a few weeks ago. Campese has a goal and three points in six games this season but was a point per game player last season after the Warriors adding him from the Western Hockey League and although it may take some time for him to get back up to the speed of things again, he has shown potential to contributing offence and getting in on the scoring. Two players that had a good night on Friday that could have an impact is a pair of American-born forwards in RJ Murphy and Willie Reim. Both found the back of the net on Friday and each have been playing some pretty good hockey as of late. Both possess big bodies and are hard to move off the puck from below the goal line and will need to do that on this day because Nanaimo is an older team that has plenty of size and grit.

2) LOTS OF EXPERIENCE UP FRONT

Despite the sub-.500 record, this Clippers team is littered with BCHL and Junior “A” experience up front. 7 forwards return from last year’s team while Clippers head coach and general manager Mike Vandekamp went out and got forward Parker Colley from the Prince George Spruce Kings and former Western Hockey League forward Cal Babych to give the Clippers even more veteranism up front. So the forward core of this team will need to be watched out for as they are plenty capable of scoring and making life difficult on opposing goaltenders. Jamie Collins has points in 11 of the 12 games he has played in this season and poses a lethal weapon up front for the Clippers while Tristan Crozier has multi-point games in 5 of the 9 games he has at least a point in this season, plenty of firepower for the Clippers. In saying that, only Shawn Guison remains from last year’s squad on the back end as there has been a lot of retooling in the defensive end and an experienced forward group of the Warriors could take advantage of that inexperienced defense, though still a veteran group in age and plenty of size back there as well. The Warriors are likely to see goaltender Noah Featherstonhaugh Gowe (I know, I’m freaking out inside as well) as Austin Roden has seen the net the last two nights in Vernon and Salmon Arm. The Nanaimo netminder owns a 3.95 GAA and a .887 SV% so far this season as it’s been a bit of a rough go for the Barrie, Ontario native in his BCHL career so far and will be looking to get back on track against the Warriors on Sunday afternoon.

3) KEEP PLUGGING AWAY

The Warriors have been playing some pretty darn good hockey as of late, winning four games in a row before recently falling to Wenatchee on Friday night but still not having played that badly in the defeat. This team is doing the right things, playing the right way and just need to keep plugging away and getting some offence would certainly elevate this team, who are in search of their 9th victory of the season. This Nanaimo team will be hungry for a win as well, coming off of back-to-back losses on this Interior trip and only scoring 3 goals in those 2 games. I think this afternoon’s game should make up for a good one, a pair of teams that always play tight checking, gritty hockey and both will be looking for bounce back performances to try and elevate themselves in the standings in their respective divisions. I’d look for the Warriors to try and push the pace early on, trying to get some offence going and look to take advantage of a team that will be playing their 3rd game in nearly 2 and a half days.

3 Thoughts: Wild @ Warriors Game #12

The West Kelowna Warriors fought hard but a late short handed goal would be their downfall in a 4-2 loss to the Wenatchee Wild on Friday night at Royal LePage Place.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

BLISS LITTLER PRE GAME

WILD BROADCASTER ARCH ECKER

The first game photo is provided by Wayne Moore with Castanet while the remainder are from Julie Pringle of Snap Photography:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) JUST LACKING FINISH

The Warriors had a pretty good night, despite what the shot clock said and just couldn’t find a way to get past Wenatchee netminder Austin Park. The Warriors had multiple chances in and around the goal mouth but lacked the finish they needed to bury those chances. One of them came early in the game, in the opening ten minutes of play with Chase Stevenson chipping a loose puck wide of the goal with the Warrior forward right in the crease and an open net in front of him. That goes in, and things may have gone a bit differently than they eventually did on Friday night. The line of Stevenson, Parm Dhaliwal and Chase Dubois was front and prominent in the department of “plenty of chances but no finish” with all three having big chances to get on the scoreboard in the game but none of them able to find the back of the net. RJ Murphy and Willie Reim paced the Warriors offence on Friday with both of them, along with netminder Nik Amundrud, looking like the Warriors best players on the night. Reim (as pictured above) just missed a big chance and couldn’t get a stick on a bouncing puck in the 3rd period after Murphy tried to jam home the first chance on the backhand at the glove side post. The puck didn’t bounce in the Warriors favour on Friday night and you’re going to have that happen on occasion and it was one of those kind of nights for the Warriors. In the end of it all, West Kelowna needed their top line to produce and their returning forwards weren’t able to provide the offence they needed. The Wild did a good job of shutting down the Marino-Tilsley-Norlin line, something that hasn’t been able to be done for a couple of weeks and with that line not giving any offence, the Warriors needed their top guys to do so but fell short of that on this night.

2) I’LL TAKE FIVE MORE GAMES OF THAT, PLEASE

Friday night’s game should be the reason Warriors fans and the Interior Division is happy to have the Wild in the division for the 2017/18 season. It was fast-paced, high energy and full of plenty of action both ways. What helped was the support of a big crowd from last night and makes those kind of games even more invigorating. It was great to see over 1300 out at RLP last night and provided plenty of noise and a great atmosphere for an excellent game. Whenever the Warriors and Wild get together, it always seems to provide plenty of action and high energy throughout the game and Friday night provided that. The first period, in particular, saw both sides flying up and down the ice with chances at either end of the rink. Despite not putting a whole lot of shots on goal, I thought Austin Park made all the saves he needed to in the Wenatchee net while Nik Amundrud, again, may have been the Warriors best player and when the 19-shot onslaught of the 2nd period came from the Wild, Amundrud was there to shut the door for the Warriors in goal. But if that game is what we are going to see for the next five of the season series between these two squads, sign me up and buckle up for what will be a wild ride (yes, pun intended). One great highlight from the exciting night was this goal from Willie Reim that opened the scoring, impressive speed and power move to the front of the net from the big forward:

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 4-2 loss to the Wenatchee Wild on Friday night at Royal LePage Place is that the Warriors needed more finish and couldn’t quite muster up enough offence to go along with the good goaltending they got on the night. Full marks to the Wild on this night as after the opening period, they were the better team in the 2nd frame and took full advantage of their opportunities in a seesaw 3rd period with a deflected goal just 14 seconds into the frame and a shorthanded marker with under 5 minutes to play in the game, one that looked like the Warriors might have just stopped playing on with the Wild taking advantage of a delayed penalty coming to the home side. But nonetheless, an exciting game that had a feel of one that was being played much later than early October and one the many battles that these two teams are going to have over the course of their 6-game season series.

The Warriors (8-4-0-0) return to action on Sunday afternoon as they take on the Nanaimo Clippers (5-5-1-0) for a 2:30 PM face-off with a Skate With The Warriors happening immediately after the game. Tickets are available at the Warriors office or by calling (250) 769-7051. If you can’t make it down to RLP on Sunday, I’ll have the call on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com beginning at 2:15 PM with the pre-game show.

3 Keys: Wild @ Warriors Game #12

 vs. 

The West Kelowna Warriors open up a four-game home stand with a new rival within their division in the Wenatchee Wild, the first of their six-game season series on Friday the 13th at Royal LePage Place.

WATCH

LISTEN

Warriors vs. Wild 2016/17 Season:

Friday, November 19th @ Royal LePage Place (4-2 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, November 26th @ Town Toyota Center (11-2 Wild) (BOXSCORE)

Warriors vs. Wild 2017/18 Schedule:

Friday, October 13th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Friday, November 10th @ Town Toyota Center (7:05 PM)

Saturday, December 2nd @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Friday, January 12th @ Town Toyota Center (7:05 PM)

Saturday, January 13th @ Town Toyota Center (7:05 PM)

Tuesday, February 21st @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

3 KEYS:

1) THE WILD, WILD INTERIOR

It’s only 11 games into the season but the Interior Division is about as tight as can be with 5 teams jockeying for position in the top 5 of the standings and a pair of teams in Merritt and Salmon Arm that aren’t far behind and are playing some good hockey as of late after early season struggles. Now I also know it’s only the 13th of October but the Warriors do own the top spot in the Interior (and the BCHL) heading into action Friday and are the only team in the league with 8 victories this year, definitely a bit of something to be proud of. The Warriors are owners of a four-game winning streak heading into Friday night where they will be tested with the Wenatchee Wild coming into town for what should be an outstanding game. The Warriors have played very well over the last four contests and really all season long with Wenatchee coming in charged up after a big win over the Vipers on Wednesday night, a game in which they, like the Warriors, trailed 2-0 in before scoring three unanswered and outshooting Vernon 27-13 in the game. Tonight’s game could have the feel of one that we could see in March as these two clubs always find a way to make each and every game they play against one another memorable (for the right and wrong reasons, i.e. the 11-2 loss in Wenatchee last year for the Warriors). These could also be two teams, with the likes of other in the division, jousting for some top spots in the Interior coming down the stretch and I feel like both these teams know that points in October are as valuable as the ones in February and I’d make it a priority to get down to RLP tonight to catch what is bound to be a great contest between two very good hockey teams.

2) DID SOMEONE SAY SPECIAL TEAMS?

Surprise, surprise, it’s another blog with special teams being one of the biggest keys of the night. I know it seems like I’m being lazy and taking the easy way out but trust me, the special teams that these two teams have will make for a very intriguing game within the game. It’s no secret that the Wild are capable of scoring, putting an 11-spot up just about two weeks ago on home ice against the Cowichan Valley Capitals and their power play? Well, it’s been pretty darn good. Wenatchee’s man advantage is tied with the Penticton Vees for top spot in the BCHL at 25.7% and has been on of the biggest reasons they own the 6-3-0-1 record that they do. Almost half of Wenatchee’s goals this season have come on the power play (18 of 40) and have used their for exactly the reason that it’s made for: to punish teams for taking penalties. Despite allowing a goal in each of their last two games on the penalty kill, the Warriors PK is still 12/14 in those games and still sitting in the number one spot in the BCHL with a PK percentage of 90.4. A penalty kill that has won the Warriors their fare share of games so far this season. West Kelowna’s 7th ranked PP (22.0%) will take on the 4th ranked PK of the Wild (86.1%) and will pose a good test for each side when it comes to the PP but on the other side, it’s a battle of the number ones and could be the difference in tonight’s hockey game.

3) OFFENSE VS. DEFENCE

The Warriors have been getting a good output as of late from their offense but this is a team that prides itself on being strong in their defensive zone and they have held their own in that department so far this season. West Kelowna sits in 3rd in goals against at 25 and will have their hands full with a team in Wenatchee that has 40 goals for this season, which ranks 4th in the BCHL. The Wild do have a pair of their returning players and offensive weapons in captain AJ Vanderbeck and Lucas Sowder that could be out of the Wenatchee lineup on Friday with both not seeing action for a few games. With that being said, Cooper Zech has had a strong season so far as a puck moving d-man and leads the Wild in points with 15 on the season. Returning forward Jasper Weatherby leads the team with 8 goals and can provide an element of offense along with some grittiness up front. The Warriors will have to be aware and on their toes in their own zone and not allow a team as offensively inclined as the Wild to get a lot of opportunities in the offensive zone. West Kelowna’s Nik Amundrud has been outstanding over his last three games, playing to a .954 SV% and will look to continue that against the team in which he won his first BCHL game against last year. Amundrud was the 1st star on that night and if the Warriors get a repeat performance of that night from one year ago, there could be a lot of fans leaving RLP happy on Friday night.

The Warriors and Wild drop the puck at 7:00 PM with tickets available at the Warriors office or by calling (250) 769-7051. If you can’t make it down to RLP, I’ll have the pre-game show going at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com. It’s the first of two on the weekend for the Warriors at home who will welcome the Nanaimo Clippers into town on Sunday afternoon for a 2:30 PM face-off.

3 Thoughts: Warriors @ Eagles Game #11

The West Kelowna Warriors fought hard and battled back from an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Surrey Eagles by a 3-2 score at the South Surrey Arena on Tuesday night.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

BRANDON WEST PRE GAME

PARM DHALIWAL

Game photos provided by Garrett James, who I’d like to give a big shoutout to, along with his brother Damon. These two do such a great job for the BCHL in capturing the game’s big moments and have been so helpful with the amount the Warriors have gone down to the coast in provided content for myself to use on all platforms of social media. So thank you so much Garrett and Damon, keep up the good work!:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) THE COMEBACK

It doesn’t matter whether you’re down by two 3:44 into the game or 45 minutes in, a comeback is a comeback and the Warriors were able to battle through a rough opening to the hockey game. The first 3:44 were a tough pill to swallow for the Warriors, especially netminder Cole Demers, who you have to feel for on this occasion. He made one save on three shots Tuesday night before being relieved by Nik Amundrud and was something you never see from the 18-year-old netminder. But everyone has nights where you may not be as sharp as you wish and unfortunately, that night was tonight for Demers. Amundrud was outstanding in relief, turning aside all 31 shots he faced while giving a spark to his teammates in order to start the comeback for tonight. The Melfort, Saskatchewan native made one of his biggest saves on the night in the 2nd period as he flashed the leather on John Wesley in front with a gorgeous glove side and at that point, preserved a 2-2 tie. It’s the 2nd straight game in which Amundrud was on top of his game and was one of the biggest reasons for the Warriors come-from-behind victory. The line of Marino-Tilsley-Norlin was again the straw that stirred the Warriors drink tonight with each recording multiple points and Marino and Norlin both finding the back of the net. That line has added so much offense to the Warriors arsenal over the last few weeks and were the sole creators of the goals that were scored tonight. The Warriors, outside of a span of 3:44, were the better team I thought tonight and got the result they deserved in this game, taking it to the Eagles for the first two periods before Surrey poured it on in the third period trying to tie the game. West Kelowna bent but did not break at the end of the game, again the PK came up huge with a 6/7 performance and killing off two penalties late in the game, and with Davidson pulled and at the bench, to make it a 6-on-4. Again, bending but not breaking while Amundrud was excellent and propelled the Warriors to a fourth straight win and, don’t look now, but a BCHL best 8 wins thus far and 1st place in the Interior Division.

2) SOLID DEFENSIVE PLAY

Not often do games end “2-1” or “3-2” in that building but the Warriors did a great job of shutting the Eagles offense down and not allowing the big guns on the Eagles roster to really get going. Yes, when you look at the box score, it’s multi-point nights for each Desi Burgart, John Wesley and Ty Westgard but after the 3:44 mark of the 1st period, that line, despite some very good looking chances, did not factor into any more scoring in the game and the Warriors defensive play and goaltending is to credit there. Along with Amundrud being terrific, Stephen Kleysen, Jake Harrison and Wyatt Head all had real good nights in keeping the lead with time dwindling down. This a talented Eagles team, who have been in more one-goal games than anyone so far this season, and that top line can really create some unbelievable chances that seemed like it would break a one-goal game but the hockey gods are on the Warriors side on Tuesday. On a larger than normal ice sheet, it can be tough to keep everyone inside the “house” as you heard head coach and general manager Rylan Ferster say pregame and it is true, the area in front of the net where the best “Grade A” scoring chances are coming from is the most important area to keep clean and I feel like the Warriors did a good job with that tonight. The Warriors boxed out forwards attempting to get to the front of the net and had their goaltender make some big saves and not give up much in the way of rebounds and if he did, it was straight into the corner or up and out of play. It’s a whole other element playing in that rink with big bounces of lively end boards and plenty of room to skate in the offensive zone but the Warriors handled that pressure very well.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from a 3-2 Warriors victory on the road in Surrey on Tuesday night are that this team continues to mesh and get better and better as each game passes along. A rough opening few minutes of this game was followed by strong play where the Warriors were the better team for most of the game after, with Surrey getting a surge late to try and comeback and tie the game. One thing that is nice coming out of this game, and I know it’s only 11 games into the regular season, but the Warriors lead the BCHL with 8 wins and sit in 1st place for at least the next 17 hours, certainly a nice feeling for the boys to wake up to in the morning (although this is 3:30 AM when I am posting this so the morning is not too far away). This was a solid road win to cap off what has been a tough part of the schedule with long Mainland down-and-backs for the last four weeks. The Warriors are a combined 4-1 during that span of games down in the Mainland (including the Showcase), pretty impressive numbers for days with long travel and a quick turnaround to play right away. But on Tuesday night, they showed some strong fight and resilience after getting down early and another shutdown third period, which has led this team to an 8-0-0-0 record when leading after 40 minutes this season.

The Warriors are back in action on Friday the 13th when they take on the Wenatchee Wild at RLP. I said it many times over the course of the broadcast and I will say it again, get yourself down to this game. It’s going to be a good one. Wenatchee plays in Vernon on Wednesday night which is a game to look out for but the Warriors and Wild have always played entertaining matchups and Friday proves to be no different. Puck drop is at 7 PM with tickets available at the Warriors office or by calling (250) 769-7051.