3 Thoughts: Vees @ Warriors Game #34

The West Kelowna Warriors earned their 18th victory of the season in what might have been the game of the year as RJ Murphy scored with just 0.3 seconds remaining in overtime for a 3-2 victory against the Penticton Vees on Friday night at Royal LePage Place on Teddy Bear Toss Night.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

JAKE HARRISON

Game photos tonight provided by Julie Pringle of Snap Photography:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) WHAT. A. GAME.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and boy, oh boy that photo of the score clock at the end of the night could certainly save me some lost sleep writing this blog tonight. That was the most entertaining game of the season as the Warriors defeated the Penticton Vees by a 3-2 score in overtime on Teddy Bear Toss night. The game was fast paced, high energy and felt like a playoff like atmosphere up until the final goal horn of the night, which RJ Murphy set off with just 0.3 seconds remaining on the clock. It might have been the game of the year in the BC Hockey League as these two teams matched up so well and combined for an extremely rousing night of hockey at RLP. It was kicked off by Chase Dubois’ snipe over the blocker side of Adam Scheel on a 3-on-2 rush that sent many furry friends in attendance over the boards and onto the ice to give the Warriors a 1-0 advantage. The Vees countered with a tally from captain Owen Sillinger, who I thought was the best Vee that wasn’t named Adam Scheel on Friday night, as the Vees captain fired a wrister from the left circle up and over the blocker side of Cole Demers and tied the game heading into the 1st intermission, a period in which I thought the Warriors had the upper hand in over 20 minutes. The same could be said for the 2nd frame as the Warriors looked strong through the middle stanza and were rewarded with Mike Lombardi pouncing on a rebound off a Tyler Jutting shot and gave The Tribe a 2-1 lead heading into period #3. Just like a heavyweight title fight, the teams traded chances and traded blows in the 3rd frame before it was Sillinger again who got the Vees into a 2-2 draw with a spinning backhand shot from the circle and beat Demers on the glove side for a tie game and some free hockey to those in attendance (minus their bears). The OT period saw the Warriors outshoot the Vees by an 8-1 margin, including a power play that yielded 7 of those shots, before RJ Murphy burst down the left wing i the dying seconds of the frame and slid a puck through the legs of Scheel on a net front drive that gave the Warriors an overtime win and one heck of a hockey game for those in attendance and watching at home on either Shaw TV Okanagan or HockeyTV.

2) ANOTHER HARD WORKING EFFORT

I’ve said many times on this blog before that it’s not often you’ll find that the Warriors didn’t compete hard enough or were outworked and tonight that certainly wasn’t the case. I thought the Warriors controlled stretches of this game and looked really good tonight and we’re finally rewarded for a hard working effort that has seen them playing better hockey than what the record has shown over the last few weeks. I thought it was rewarding to see the effort being cashed in with another big overtime win against an Interior Division opponent and now have the chance to close out the pre-Christmas schedule with back-to-back wins when the Warriors entertain the Powell River Kings on Sunday. On another night of just 9 forwards (which seems to be the norm for this team right now), everyone brought their game and dug in and played a solid 60 minutes. I really liked the look of the “Stars and Stripes” line tonight of Willie Reim, Murphy and Lombardi. The Barrington, Rhode Island native Lombardi impressed the most as he was all over the ice on the night and picked up a big goal in the 2nd period to get the game in the Warriors favour. I believe, after some scoring corrections, RJ Murphy should have himself and three-point night and deservingly so as the Warriors forward was great tonight with a strong power move to the net to end the game in overtime. Lucas Cullen and Chase Dubois had strong games up front for West Kelowna, as well as 16-year-old Max Bulawka while Jake Harrison might have been one of the best players on the ice. “Harry” threw a massive hit on Ocean Wiesblatt in the 2nd period and was a spark plug for the Warriors throughout the entire game. Cole Demers was the best Warrior on the night as he made 34 saves on 36 shots and was given first star. Not as busy as his counterpart, Adam Scheel, Demers made some monster stops including a pair of big saves on the penalty kill late in the 3rd period on Owen Sillinger and a save on a Dakota Boutin breakaway in the 2nd frame, while also turning aside the follow up try from Ryan Sandelin. Demers was confident and collecting inside his crease tonight and helped the Warriors to a huge win on Friday night.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 3-2 overtime victory over the Penticton Vees on Friday night at Royal LePage Place on Teddy Bear Toss night was that this game was just damn good. If you missed it or couldn’t make it to RLP, I feel bad for you because that’s about as heart-pounding and exciting entertainment you’ll get for $15. Both teams played up and down the ice and traded chances and played pretty solid games but I thought the Warriors had the edge in that department. If it weren’t for the robbery of Adam Scheel, this game could have been a whole lot different. The Vees netminder made 49 saves on the 52 shots he faced and was, at times, the only reason the Vees were in the game. He continues to be a brick wall over the course of his rookie season in the BCHL and makes some of the hardest saves look so casual. He’s a pleasure to watch and was on top of his game on Friday night but the Warriors were able to get three past him for a big win on home ice. That might be the most unfortunate thing about Friday is it marks the end of the season series between these two rivals (which is crazy to think since 2017 isn’t even over yet). These two teams combine for such an entertaining brand of hockey and had the arena buzzing all night long until Mr. Murphy blew the roof off of RLP with just 3 10’s of a second left.

I’d like to thank Shaw TV, as well as my colour commentator Tim Hogg, for coming on and doing the game on Friday night. It was a lot of fun to experience a different side of broadcasting that I’ve never had before and certainly seemed to be a hit from those who watched. Excellent crew to work with and look forward to some potential other games in the future.

The Warriors close out their pre-Christmas break schedule with a matchup against the Island Division’s Powell River Kings on Stuff The Bus night at RLP. Fans are encouraged to bring a nonperishable food item to game and be entered in a draw to win a seasons ticket for the 2018/19 season. It’s also the final Skate with the Warriors in 2017 with a 2:30 PM puck drop on Sunday afternoon. Tickets are available at online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office ahead of the opening face-off.

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3 Keys: Vees @ Warriors Game #34

 vs. 

The West Kelowna Warriors close out their season series against the Penticton Vees on Teddy Bear Toss night at Royal LePage Place on Friday night, which will also be broadcasted live on Shaw TV Okanagan.

WATCH

TICKETS

Warriors vs. Vees 2017/18 Schedule:

Friday, September 29th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (2-1 Vees) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, November 3rd @ Royal LePage Place (4-3 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, November 17th @ Royal LePage Place (11-3 Vees) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, November 29th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (3-0 Vees) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, December 8th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (5-2 Vees) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, December 15th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

3 KEYS:

1) LIMITING MISTAKES

It’s usually a key when the Warriors and Vees meet and for the final meeting of the season between these Interior Division foes, it will play a big part in deciding who gets the last laugh in the season series. “I thought we played a pretty good hockey game tonight, but we just gifted them goals. It’s unfortunate,” said Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster to Castanet’s Wayne Moore after Saturday night’s 5-3 loss for the Warriors to the Trail Smoke Eaters and you’d have to agree with him, this team played a pretty good game on Saturday, especially considering the fact that the team has basically 8 regular forwards and an AP after Jordan Todd was ejected from the game just 1:20 into the contest. The Warriors will need to minimize those mistakes against a team that can turn those mistakes into costly ones. West Kelowna competed hard enough in both of their contests last weekend against the Smokies and the Vees last Friday night but cleaning up turnovers from the defensive zone will be a big key heading into tonight for the Warriors. Knowing your surroundings and plenty of communication between the defensemen and forwards or defsenemen going back for pucks with the goaltender coming out to meet them and will need to keep the communication strong throughout the night. These two teams know each other well enough, already playing in the final game of their season series, which is a bit hard to believe that the next time the Warriors and Vees face-off against one another would be next season, unless there is a potential playoff matchup brewing. The Warriors have done plenty of good things over the last few games to get some points that has resulted in a stretch of losses in five of their last six games. If the Warriors can limit their mistakes and keep their turnovers from their own end of the ice to a minimum, it should give The Tribe a good chance at making a hopefully large crowd go home happy.

2) FIRST 10 MINUTES

It’s a key in every game of the season but I think it has an extra meaning for Friday night as there will be plenty of energy inside of RLP and the Warriors will look to feed off of that in the early going. West Kelowna owns a 12-5-0-0 record on home ice this season and have played their best hockey when in front of the Warrior faithful and Friday night will be no exception. WIth the excitement of the Teddy Bear Toss along with the game being broadcasted live on Shaw TV throughout the entire Okanagan Valley, there will plenty of energy inside of Royal LePage Place and the Warriors will have to use that energy to their advantage and come out with a strong and energized start to this game. The Warriors will have a new face to inject some energy into their lineup as Cody Paivarinta will make his West Kelowna and BCHL debut wearing number 8 tonight. The 6’6″, 190-pound rearguard comes to the Warriors from the Prince Albert Raiders where he played in 95 career Western Hockey League games with 2 goals and 9 points to go along with 77 penalty minutes. The Abbotsford, BC native adds some size and grit to the Warriors backend and will hail some comparisons (in size, anyway) to former Warriors d-man Scott Allan. Paivarinta will surely add some tenacity for the Warriors and could help in the opening 10 minutes of trying to bring energy and getting the crowd involved early on in the game. Some opening physical play, scoring chances or even an early goal for the Warriors could go a long way in helping them through this game and would get the bears on the ice early in the evening.

3) THE OPPOSITION

This is the final meeting of the regular season between these two Interior Division foes and the Vees are about the same as they were when I wrote about them last week, with the only difference being a loss in between that time. Penticton lost their 12-game winning streak in a 4-0 shutout defeat at the hands of the Vernon Vipers on Saturday night at Kal Tire Place but have still been playing very good hockey throughout November and the early part of December. The Vees will remain without the services of defensemen Jonny Tychonick and Ryan O’Connell, who are away with Team Canada West at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge while Chris Klack and Grant Cruikshank are sidelined with injuries. Cruikshank was injured in the first period of last Friday’s matchup against the Warriors in a collision with Stephen Kleysen, an unfortunate injury for Cruikshank who had just been starting to pick up steam after returning from an ailment earlier in the season. Continuing with lineup news, the Vees added forward Ocean Wiesblatt to their roster on Thursday and will make his debut with the club tonight. The Vancouver, BC native played in 42 games with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits while registering 5 goals and 13 points and will wear #27 tonight.  Nicky Leivermann continues his dominance over the Warriors with 9 of his 27 points on the year coming against The Tribe while Massimo Rizzo is 2nd on the Vees in points against West Kelowna with 8 and Dakota Boutin has 5 goals in the season series thus far. Adam Scheel continues to be a force throughout the season, placing in the top 2 in both goals against average and save percentage on the season and will man the crease for the 6th and final time against the Warriors this season. The last meeting between these two teams at RLP resulted in an 11-3 Vees win and I’m sure that will be on the back of the minds of Warriors players as they hit the ice tonight.

The Warriors and Vees drop the puck at 7:00 PM with fans encouraged to bring a new or gently used stuffed animal to throw on the ice after the Warriors first goal of the game. The game will also be broadcasted live on Shaw TV throughout the Okanagan Valley as myself and the voice of the KIJHL’s Summerland Steam Tim Hogg will have the call beginning at 7. For those viewing outside of the Okanagan, Vees broadcaster Craig Beauchemin will have the call on HockeyTV as well as EZ Rock AM 800 for those looking to listen to the game as the Warriors Internet Network will not carry tonight’s game due to the game being carried on Shaw. Tickets are available online here, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office ahead of the opening face-off.

3 Thoughts: Smoke Eaters @ Warriors Game #33

The West Kelowna Warriors gave a valiant effort but with a depleted lineup ultimately fell to the Trail Smoke Eaters by a 5-3 score on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

JESSIE LEUNG PRE GAME

Game photo from Saturday night comes courtesy of Wayne Moore of Castanet:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) “A” FOR EFFORT

There’s not going to be many nights that you question the compete level or desire for the Warriors and Saturday night, this team gave it their absolute all in a 5-3 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters at Royal LePage Place. This team played hard on Saturday and, in my belief, deserved a better fate than they received. I know I’ve said that a lot on this blog before but West Kelowna outshot Trail by a 33-22 count and at times in this game, controlled the puck in the offensive zone for consecutive shifts at a time. “I thought we had some good looks. It’s hard to be mad at our overall game” Warriors head coach and GM Rylan Ferster was quoted as saying to Wayne Moore of Castanet on Saturday and you’ve got to agree with the Warriors bench boss as this time battled and worked hard all night long but the self-inflicted wounds that the Warriors are created are coming back to bite them in the end. Assistant coach Matt Miller said after the game the team had their scoring chances at 17-10 in favour of the Warriors and giving up four goals (plus an empty netter) on 10 scoring chances is a tough reality that the Warriors have been living through over the last few weeks, playing really solid games but some costly mistakes that end up in the back of their net have really hurt them. 5-on-5, I thought the Warriors were the much better team in this game and, if it weren’t for Adam Marcoux and the help of his cross bar in the 3rd period, I don’t really think the Smoke Eaters would have had much going on on this night. In saying that, Carter Jones had an outstanding night and was a force for the Smokies, along with Braeden Tuck as the two combined for large nights on the score sheet. You’ve got to feel for the guys in that dressing room who played a real solid 60 minutes but can’t come away with any points, especially considering the Warriors were playing with 9 forwards for most of the night after Jordan Todd was given a game misconduct for a checking from behind penalty he was given just 1:20 into the game. This one hurts when looking at the final score but man, the Warriors couldn’t have really played much better with some costly mistakes being their demise.

2) SPECIAL TEAMS BATTLE

I wrote about this ahead of Saturday’s contest in my “3 Keys” blog that the most intriguing matchup, for me anyway, when it came to special teams would be the Warriors surging power play against Trail’s struggling penalty kill. Both power plays had success on this night with each team tickling the twine twice when ahead in man power and it was a shorthanded goal that proved to be the difference as Carter Jones’ marker at 14:05 of the 2nd period was the game winning goal, on another gift wrapped chance given up by the Warriors. West Kelowna had their power play looking sharp on Saturday with crisp passes and smart shot selection as well as getting bodies to the front of the net and making Marcoux’s life hard in the crease. The Warriors power play started 8th in the league at the beginning of the night and has vaulted to 6th in the BCHL and has been red hot over the past six game stretch. Both teams had plenty of things going when it came to the power play and are basically a wash in this game with each side scoring twice on the man advantage but the Warriors penalty kill will want to be an area that they shore up after going 50% on Saturday night. The shorthanded goal is certainly one that sticks out for the Warriors and I’m sure will be something that will be looked at as the club has given up 7 shorthanded goals against on the season, a bit of a higher number than you’d like to see but have operated their power play at 21% so it’s bit of a strange breakdown. Nonetheless, the Warriors had a good night on one end of the special teams spectrum and a not so good night at the other and saw special teams play a big part in Saturday’s game.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 5-3 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place would be that, and not trying to sound like a broken record here, but this team played a heck of a game tonight and competed hard enough for a win but the self-inflicted mistakes will have to come to an end to earn some points in games that they deserve to have some in. For a second straight night, I thought Jared Marino was one of the best players on the ice. It might not show up for the BCHL’s Player of the Week honourable mentions but he had a really strong two-game weekend, playing with plenty of energy and pace to his game. Jake Harrison, Michael Ryan and Lucas Cullen also had strong games, just to name a few of the many from the Warriors side that played very well. It’s one of the most frustrating things to try and correct for the Warriors right now as they like their work ethic and their compete level but it’s just the smallest and most costly errors that are sinking the Warriors in games most recently. I know it might get repetitive to read, and I apologize for that, but the Warriors have been playing well and just have not been on the right side of the score. I thought Saturday night was a great effort for them, so depleted but dug their feet in and battled hard but just fell short and will have a big weekend of games against Penticton and Powell River to try and go into the Christmas break with some momentum.

The Warriors return to Royal LePage Place to take on the Penticton Vees in one of the biggest home dates on the Warriors calendar. It’s Teddy Bear Toss night at RLP as fans are encouraged to bring a new or gently-used teddy bear to throw on the ice after the Warriors first goal. The game will also be broadcasted live on Shaw TV throughout the entire Okanagan so the Warriors are hoping for a big crowd and would be a great way to get yourself seen on TV. I’m hopeful that West Kelowna will come out and get over 1000 fans in the seats for the big occasion on Friday, December 15th and pack RLP to give the game a great atmosphere. Tickets for the game can be found online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office ahead of the opening face-off, which is slated for 7:00 PM.

3 Keys: Smoke Eaters @ Warriors Game #33

The West Kelowna Warriors look to get back in the win column as they host the Trail Smoke Eaters for the 2nd time this season on the 7th annual Pastor Don’s Christmas Hamper Night.

TICKETS

WATCH

LISTEN

Warriors vs. Smoke Eaters 2017/18 Schedule:

Friday, September 8th @ Cominco Arena (4-3 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, September 9th @ Royal LePage Place (4-0 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, December 9th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Friday, December 29th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Saturday, December 30th @ Cominco Arena (7:00 PM)

Friday, January 19th @ Cominco Arena (7:00 PM)

3 KEYS:

1) BRINGING THE ENERGY

For a second straight Saturday, the Warriors will be playing with a more depleted lineup than what they are accustomed to seeing and will look to have the same result as a week ago in their building and will need plenty of support from what will hopefully be a large crowd at Royal LePage Place on Saturday night. The Warriors will once again be without four of their forwards, something that is extremely tough to overcome as the Warriors will have to keep their shifts short and keep the pace high against a team that can score and skate with the best of them. Parm Dhaliwal will miss tonight’s game after getting back in last night while Chase Stevenson, Bennett Norlin and Matt Kowalski continue to remain sidelined for the Warriors as they will roll with 9 regular forwards and 7 defensmen in this game tonight as well as being joined by AP Mitchell Gove, who gets into the Warriors lineup for the 2nd straight night after playing last night in Penticton as he comes to the Warriors from the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League. The Warriors could look back at their performance from last Saturday in which they gathered a 4-3 overtime victory over the Wenatchee Wild at home with a depleted lineup and, in order to do that again, they will need to bring plenty of energy on their shifts, keep them smart and their goaltender will need a similar performance to his 45 saves. Amundrud was outstanding in that game and he will need to be again tonight against a tough Trail team, who is also playing with a depleted roster but we’ll get to that a little later. Energy. it’ll be a big key and the Warriors have had fantastic energy at home this season and could use it again on Saturday night.

2) THE INTANGIBLES

This is more of a stat key than an actual game key but I think stats are important and could be useful ahead of this game. For starters, West Kelowna continues to have success on home ice as they own a 12-4-0-0 record at Royal LePage Place this season and are going up against a team that has faired better away from home in the Smoke Eaters as they hold a 10-4-0-1 record away from Cominco Arena. The battle goes beyond those records when looking at these teams special teams as the Smoke Eaters rank 3rd in the BCHL with a 21.5% power play and will go up against the 6th ranked penalty kill of the Warriors at 83.2%, who had a big 5-on-3 penalty kill on Friday night against the Vees. The matchup that is the most intriguing to me with the special teams would be the Warriors power play against Trail’s penalty kill. West Kelowna comes in with a 20.8% man advantage, good for 7th in the BCHL and has scored in 5 of it’s last 6 games and has scored 9 power plays goals in 29 attempts during that span. The Smokies penalty kill has surrendered 9 power play goals against in their last 3 games and it sit 14th in the league with a 79.9% PK so it will be a battle of a power play that has found plenty of success as of late, but is missing some key pieces against a penalty kill that has struggled to find it’s footing in the month of December. Some food for thought heading into a big Interior Division matchup.

3) THE OPPOSITION

The Smoke Eaters sit 2nd in the BCHL with 120 goals for and are tied for 1st in goals for on the road with 66 so this is a team that can flat out score. Trail has lost 6 games in a row and a correlation to that could be the absence of their top 3 players as Ross Armour, Kale Howarth and Levi Glasman have each missed time over the stretch. Glasman is back but Armour, along with Seth Barton, are away at with Team Canada West at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge and Howarth has not suited up in the team’s last 3 games. So some big omissions from the Trail lineup for sure but there is still plenty of offence throughout the Smokies roster in the likes of Glasman, who sits 12th in the BCHL in points with 33, Andre Ghantous and Carter Jones, a rookie forward who is almost a point per game player and has shown great signs of offensive uprise. With both of these teams playing with depleted lineups, everyone will have to bring their ‘A’ game and Trail will still have plenty of goal scoring ability in their lineup to keep the Warriors on their toes. Defensively, Barton is a big loss as he was having a tremendous start to his BCHL career but the likes of longtime veteran Jeremy Lucchini, who’s 3rd on the team in scoring, and captain Troy Ring keep the defense a strong and stable one for the Smoke Eaters. Plenty of veterans coming on the back end with the likes of 2nd year D-man Kyle Chernekoff and Ethan Martini to be mixed in with newcomers Jacob Yuris and Trevor Zins. In between the pipes, the Smoke Eaters released 20-year-old goaltender Brandon Wells and acquired 19-year-old Adam Marcoux from the Cowichan Valley Capitals and will make his first start with the Smokies tonight. The Calgary, Alberta native owns a 2-19-2 record with a 4.85 GAA and a .888 SV% but don’t let the numbers fool you, he can steal games. Marcoux was playing on a Cowichan team that didn’t give him much help in front of him and also made 24 saves on 26 shots in a loss at RLP on October 21st and looked very good in that game after coming in for relief so he’ll be a tough one to beat.

The Warriors are proud to be hosting the 7th annual Pastor Don’s Christmas Hamper Night at Royal LePage Place tonight. It’s always a great night and Don does so much good for the community that it would be great to see plenty of fans come out for the special occasion. Don won’t be on the broadcast tonight, will obviously have his hands full, but it would certainly be a great sight to see plenty of fans out to support the terrific work that he does. The night has been a big success since it’s inception in 2010 as the cash donations during the game will be used to purchase groceries and deliver the goods to needy families in West Kelowna to provide an opportunity to have a holiday meal. Fans are encouraged to bring cash donations to the game as well as a dollar from every game ticket being donated to Pastor Don’s Christmas Hamper program. Tickets are available online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office ahead of the opening face-off, which is slated for 7:00 PM.

3 Thoughts: Warriors @ Vees Game #32

The West Kelowna Warriors could only manufacturer two goals in a 5-2 loss to the Penticton Vees on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

FRED HARBINSON PRE GAME

PARM DHALIWAL

Game photos from Friday come courtesy of Cherie Morgan with Cherie Morgan Photography:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) CAPTAIN LEADING BY EXAMPLE

This blog might not be as long as my usual blog posts (mainly because it’s 1 AM and I still have another blog to write for tomorrow night) but I really liked the Warriors captain Jared Marino tonight and I thought he was one of the best players on the ice. Even with the way the final result went, there was no questioning that Marino played hard and was one of the Warriors most consistent forwards on the night. His effort on the Warriors first goal to tie the game at one just before the intermission was a prime example of that hard work as he fought through the stick check of Nicky Leivermann and drove his way to the front of the net and wouldn’t be denied on a second effort after Adam Scheel made a save on the initial Marino shot. He played with a purpose and brought energy and I really thought he had one of the stronger nights for anyone in black, burgundy and gold. There was no question the Warriors worked hard for a chance to win tonight and didn’t give up much in the way of scoring chances but the 33 shots on net favoured them as they didn’t get enough quality looks on goal to beat a goaltender like Scheel. Scoring goals crept up and was an issue for the Warriors who continue to look for someone to step and take the reigns of this team when it comes to scoring. Lots of good things happened on this night for the Warriors but as it has seemed to be the case over the last few weeks, the Warriors “pretty good” effort has not resulted in many wins and it’s back to the drawing board once more to look at a way to try and get some points out of this weekend.

2) OPPORTUNISTIC

This a Vees team that doesn’t need much in the way of chances to create goals and Friday night was a prime example of that as the Vees capitalized on Warrior turnovers and made them pay with the puck being in the back of their net. The Warriors coaching staff had just 8 scoring chances for the Vees on the night and they cashed in on the limited chances they got. I thought Penticton played a strong game and we’re much deserving of the victory but outside of the opening 10 minutes where the Vees had their best surge of the night, I thought this game was pretty even with the Vees converting on the chances they got and the Warriors being unable to do so. It was a bit of an odd game in that regard of one team not being as good as the other but I thought both teams had a good chance at winning and the Vees were the ones that came out on top on this Friday night.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 5-2 loss to the Penticton Vees at the South Okanagan Events Centre are at least that is the last regular season games for the Warriors in that building. West Kelowna never did pick up a win in the SOEC throughout the course of this season and will be glad to not have to return there unless a playoff date is in order for these two teams. Overall, I thought Marino, Jake Harrison and Mike Ryan had really strong nights for the Warriors on Friday but, again, the ugly problem of goal scoring has crept into the Warriors game and you’re not going to win many games by a 2-1 score. The Warriors were again working hard but just couldn’t finish on their chances and will look ahead to Saturday night’s big show down against the Trail Smoke Eaters.

The Warriors (17-14-0-1) return back home on Saturday night when they host the Trail Smoke Eaters for the 7th annual Pastor Don’s Christmas Hamper Night. Fans are encouraged to bring cash donations which will be collected in the rink along with a dollar from every game ticket will be donated to Pastor Don’s Christmas Hamper program. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM from Royal LePage Place with tickets available for purchase online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office ahead of the opening face-off.

3 Keys: Warriors @ Vees Game #32

The West Kelowna Warriors make their final trip to the South Okanagan and play the fifth of their six-game season series against the Penticton Vees on Friday night from the South Okanagan Events Centre.

WATCH

LISTEN

Warriors vs. Vees 2017/18 Schedule:

Friday, September 29th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (2-1 Vees) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, November 3rd @ Royal LePage Place (4-3 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, November 17th @ Royal LePage Place (11-3 Vees) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, November 29th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (3-0 Vees) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, December 8th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (7:00 PM)

Friday, December 15th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

3 KEYS:

1) GETTING AHEAD & STAYING AHEAD

Weren’t we just here? Oh right, just under a week and a half ago the Warriors dropped a 3-0 decision to the Vees in Penticton in a game where I thought they deserved a bit of a better fate than they received but ran into a very good goaltender in Adam Scheel. Obviously for the Warriors, the goal would be to get at least one marker past Scheel on this night but getting ahead, and staying ahead, might be the biggest key of the night for West Kelowna. This team is so good when holding leads after the 1st and 2nd periods and will look to try and do the same on Friday night for their best chance at trying to break the Vees 11-game win streak. To add to that point, the Warriors are 10-1-0-0 when leading after 20 minutes and 16-0-0-0 when leading after a pair of periods, so the numbers are heavily in their favour when leading heading into the intermissions. To me, the first goal will be a big one in a season series that has swung largely on who has scored first and can get that early momentum. It’s such a tough task to do in a building in which the Vees 12-2-1-1 on the season but if the Warriors can get a lead and get into an intermission with an advantage, as the stats have shown this season, the tide turns in the Warriors favour. Scoring first is a key no matter what game you play but being on the road in a tough environment makes getting on the scoreboard first an even bigger task. West Kelowna was able to get the first goal last Saturday night and fended off a Wenatchee push before winning in overtime and will look to get a lead and hold it on Friday night. The Vees are a very good team at home and always seem to make the best of their chances and if the Warriors can get some momentum early, whether on a good shift with some scoring chances or even an early goal, it could a long way in the decision of this game.

2) BREAKING THE SCHEEL

There’s no question that Adam Scheel is the hottest goaltender in the BCHL and he has been one of, if not the, biggest reasons the Vees are on the impressive run they are on right now. The Warriors know all too well of Scheel and his goaltending excellence, having seen him in all four games in this season series and not getting much past him. The Lakewood, Ohio native has given up just 8 goals in the four games to go along with a 2.01 GAA and a .942 SV% against the Warriors this season. During the Vees 11-game winning streak, Scheel has surrendered just 10 goals in 9 games and has vaulted into the top spot in the BCHL in goals against with 1.79 and 2nd in the league at a .938 save percentage so it’s going to be tough to beat him. The Warriors have actually gotten to Scheel once this season, in a 4-3 victory on November 3rd and are one of three teams to have scored four on the Vees netminder this season. And that is just an ode to how good he has been this season that he has allowed four goals just three times and never anything more. Scheel is big and covers up a lot of the net so the Warriors will have to work on getting pucks down low on his pads because you’re not going to beat him up high very often. The University of North Dakota commit also likes to play the puck, a lot, and is the best in the BCHL, at least in this broadcaster’s opinion, at doing so and almost acts like a 3rd defenseman on the ice so the Warriors will have to be cautious of that. It won’t be easy, especially against a goalie who has been hotter than hot over the last month or so, but West Kelowna will have to find a way to break the Scheel to try and get a win in Penticton.

3) THE OPPOSITION

As I’ve mentioned in many blogs this season when the Warriors play the Vees, Penticton is structured from their back end out. Scheel will get the call in the Vees net tonight and I think I’ve already said enough about how good he has been so let’s move to the defense, shall we? Nicky Leivermann leads the Vees back end as the Colorado Avalanche is tied for the lead in goals from a defenseman in the BCHL with 7 and has 26 points on the season, which is 2nd on the Vees in team scoring. A couple of big omissions from the Vees lineup on Friday will be a pair of d-men in Jonny Tychonick and Ryan O’Connell as both will be missing action due to being away for Team Canada West at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge. So that will leave a mark on the Vees defense but will see more playing time for the likes of Luke Reid, Joe Leahy and Kenny Johnson, just to name a few. Up front, Taylor Ward has been a big key to the Vees offensive attack with points in four straight games to go along with having a point in 10 of his last 11 games. 16-year-old forward Massimo Rizzo has been strong against the Warriors this season with a goal and six points in three games while Dakota Boutin has tallied five goals against West Kelowna this year and has been one of the top forwards for the Vees against the Warriors in their season series. The Vees have been on a roll and playing some very good hockey as of late and have gotten back up to the top of the BCHL standings and will be a tough opponent for the Warriors on Friday night but should make for an entertaining contest between these two Interior Division foes.

The Warriors and Vees drop the puck on the fifth of their six-game season series at 7:00 PM from the South Okanagan Events Centre. The pre-game show gets going at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com as I’ll have the call from Penticton.

West Kelowna is back on home ice on Saturday night when they host the Trail Smoke Eaters for a 7:00 PM face-off. Saturday also marks the 7th annual Pastor Don’s Christmas Hamper Night where fans are encouraged to bring cash donations in support of Warriors Chaplain Pastor Don Richmond and his Christmas Hamper program. A dollar from every game ticket will also be donated towards the Christmas Hamper program with tickets available online at wkw.ticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office ahead of the opening puck drop.

3 Thoughts: Wild @ Warriors Game #31

The West Kelowna Warriors snapped a three-game losing skid and gutted out a hard earned 4-3 overtime victory over the Wenatchee Wild on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

BLISS LITTLER PRE GAME

WARRIORS DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS OPERATIONS ALEX DRAPER

RJ MURPHY OT WINNER

Game photo from tonight provided by Wayne Moore of Castanet:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) GUTSY EFFORT

This might have been the Warriors gutsiest effort of the season in a 4-3 overtime victory against the Wenatchee Wild on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place. Down to just 9 forwards for this contest, the Warriors came together and everyone worked as hard as they possibly could to get the victory. When talking to head coach Rylan Ferster after the game, he said that the compete was there with his hockey club tonight and boy, was it ever. That was about as shorthanded as a group can get, being down to just 18 players (including goaltenders) but the Warriors powered through and found that extra little bit of energy to push them to the win. Of course this game was in no way perfect and sometimes a bit difficult to call with both teams having times where they couldn’t handle the puck cleanly but it was so impressive to see that kind of an effort and compete from this team tonight as the Warriors knew they had to empty the tank in order to get two points and did an excellent job of that. Seeing Warriors forward Cavin Tilsley briefly after the game and telling me “I’ve never had a Junior hockey game with just 9 forwards” from a guy that’s spent over two seasons in the BCHL is something remarkable that the Warriors were able to have the result they did on Saturday against a really good Wenatchee team, that has been playing under the weather over the course of their three-game Interior trip. To delve into details, I really liked the trio of Lucas Cullen with Max Bulawka and Jordan Todd as those are three players that rose up to the occasion and played very strong games. That was probably the best game Bulawka has had in his young 16-year-old rookie season while Todd, as he usually is, was very good at his role and played hard until the final buzzer and I also really liked Cullen’s battle on Saturday. It’s not often that you get situations that see you as dire as the Warriors were, not having four of their forwards in the lineup but we saw what this team is made of and it was a hard working, grind it out kind of win for the boys tonight and an effort they can most certainly be proud of.

2) AMAZIN-DRUD

Full hats off to the Warriors on their performance on this night but the star of the show for West Kelowna was in between the pipes as Nik Amundrud was solid in the blue paint for the Warriors on Saturday night with 45 saves (?!) on 48 shots. The Warriors 20-year-old netminder knew exactly what he had to do and he executed in the biggest way with plenty of large stops en route to his 8th win of the season. Amundrud was very much dialed in in the early going of the 2nd period, with Wenatchee firing 10 shots on goal in the first 6 minutes of the frame with Amundrud there to see each one, including a couple of huge saves in the opening minutes of the middle stanza. It’s not like Amundrud came out and was sprawled all over making huge acrobatic saves but he was just solid in the Warriors goal and didn’t allow a high scoring Wenatchee team many good looks on Saturday night. Amundrud was square to almost every shot he faced and was much deserving of the 1st star effort he received on Saturday night. The Warriors got the big effort that they needed out of Amundrud in this hockey game against a very skilled and speedy Wenatchee team, who I thought played a pretty good game on the night but ran into a strong goaltender wearing #33 for the Warriors. Amundrud was especially leaned on when Wenatchee had their most pressure in the game at the beginning of both the 2nd and 3rd periods but it didn’t seem to faze the Melfort, Saskatchewan native as he was strong in keeping the Warriors lead intact in both the 2nd and 3rd periods. The Tribe came together tonight for a big team victory and they’re goaltender was certainly a large piece in that puzzle.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 4-3 overtime victory over the Wenatchee Wild on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place is that this might have been one of, if not, the most impressive of 17 wins this team has collected this season. Depleted with some injuries and with Chase Stevenson off at World Junior ‘A’ selection camp, the Warriors competed hard and pulled out a big two points on home ice in their 12th win at RLP this season. It wasn’t just the forwards that had to play hard with the depleted lineup but the defense also had to be on it’s toes and they were up for that task against one of the most dynamic lines in this league in Jasper Weatherby, AJ Vanderbeck and Lucas Sowder. In my eyes, I didn’t think that line generated much with that trio coming together for one of the even strength markers but I thought the Warriors did a good job in containing them (especially Weatherby who has 5 goals in 3 games vs. WK this season). Stephen Kleysen might have had his best night as a Warrior as he was all over the ice tonight and making plays through the neutral zone and being hard to play against inside of the defensive zone. The Wild played pretty well in this game with 48 shots on the net but I didn’t think it was a continuous cycle of Wenatchee running circles around the Warriors as West Kelowna was able to keep up with the high-flying Wild. This win could go a long ways into the rest of the season with the gutsiness that was on display for the Warriors tonight and is a perfect way to head into a week of practice and hopefully some rest but all in all, great win for the Warriors on Saturday with plenty of compete had on this night.

The Warriors are back in action on Friday, December 8th as they make their final trip of the season to the South Okanagan Events Centre to take on the Penticton Vees for a 7:00 PM face-off from the SOEC. The game can be heard on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com at 6:45 PM with the pre-game show.

West Kelowna returns back home to Royal LePage Place on Saturday, December 9th for a matchup against the Trail Smoke Eaters. Tickets are available for purchase online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office ahead of the opening puck drop.