The West Kelowna Warriors play their final home game on the regular season schedule as they host the Wenatchee Wild on Wednesday night at Royal LePage Place.
Warriors vs. Wild 2017/18 Schedule:
Friday, October 13th @ Royal LePage Place (4-2 Wild) (BOXSCORE)
Friday, November 10th @ Town Toyota Center (9-2 Wild) (BOXSCORE)
Saturday, December 2nd @ Royal LePage Place (4-3 Warriors/OT) (BOXSCORE)
Friday, January 12th @ Town Toyota Center (5-4 Warriors/OT) (BOXSCORE)
Saturday, January 13th @ Town Toyota Center (6-0 Wild) (BOXSCORE)
Wednesday, February 21st @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
1) CRUNCH TIME
We are down to the final week of the BC Hockey League’s regular season and the Warriors play their final home game on the regular season docket as they host the Wenatchee Wild on Wednesday night at Royal LePage Place. With just three games left in the 2017/18 season, it makes every game of the week that much more valuable and it starts against the Wild tonight as the Warriors look to try and secure the 5th place position in the BCHL’s Interior Division. The Warriors will have their hands full with the league’s highest scoring team in the Wild who have scored 230 times this season in 55 games thus far and possess the league’s leading scorer in Jasper Weatherby. West Kelowna comes in after their biggest comeback victory of the season in a 6-3 win over the Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday night including a five-goal 3rd period to seal the victory. Ryan Steele continued his hot stretch of play as he has points in 10 straight games while RJ Murphy has collected points in 9 straight contests and are leading by example as the season gets into it’s toughest stretches. Parm Dhaliwal added to his strong second half of the season with a pair of points on Saturday while Chase Dubois has overtaken Warriors captain Jared Marino for the team lead in points with 53 on the year and also had a goal and an assist on Saturday. The Warriors have their offense going as they have scored five or more goals six times since the Christmas break and against the highest scoring team in the league, they will need to bring that offensive prowess. The final week of the regular season should set up a good test for the Warriors with the playoffs being just a week away with plenty of jockeying for playoff position still very much up for grabs. West Kelowna controls their own fate in the attempt to finish in 5th place in the Interior Division, entering Wednesday four points ahead of the Merritt Centennials and six points up on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and a win tonight against Wenatchee would go a long ways in helping their cause to finish in 5th place. It all starts with a big effort tonight as it’s crunch time in the BCHL season and the Warriors will have plenty of momentum coming into the night after their come from behind win on Saturday.
2) SPECIAL TEAMS BATTLE
It played a big factor in Saturday’s victory and will continue to have a play in tonight’s game as special teams will be a big key for the Warriors. West Kelowna won the special teams battle on Saturday with a pair of power play goals and a penalty kill that stood very tall and did not allow much against the top ranked power play team in the BCHL in the Grizzlies and were very disciplined in the game with only 3 PK’s going against them. The script will have to be replicated for tonight as Wenatchee is all around a very strong special teams squad. The Wild sit 2nd in the BCHL at a 22.0% and lead the league with 66 goals for on the man advantage. With that being said, the Wild have drawn the most penalties in the league as they have had 300 power play chances with 177 of those coming on home ice, which may or may not have something to do with the officiating down south. The Warriors will have to do the same that they did on Saturday which is staying disciplined and not allowing that lethal power play on the ice much throughout the night. After their two-goal power play performance on Saturday, the Warriors man advantage has moved to 5th in the league and will go up against the Wild’s 3rd ranked PK in the contest as it will be a heavy battle of special teams in that department and has played a big part in the season series thus far. Wenatchee is 8/28 on the power play in the season set while the Warriors sit 3/21 on the man advantage but that difference has mostly come while at the Town Toyota Center in Wenatchee. The Wild are 0/6, 0/3 in each game, at Royal LePage Place this season as the Warriors discipline and a bit more consistent officiating has helped them on home ice. The Warriors have done a pretty good job in special teams on home ice against the Wild and each of those games has been down to the wire, I’d expect the same tonight.
3) THE OPPOSITION
The Wenatchee Wild come into Wednesday night’s action in a dogfight for the top spot in the Interior Division with their 36-14-1-4 record. The Wild are four points behind the Penticton Vees for the division lead and are two points behind the Vernon Vipers for 2nd place with a game in hand on Vernon being burned up tonight. The Wild’s schedule is not an easy one as they played their final three games on the road starting in West Kelowna before going to Vernon on Friday and finishing in Penticton on Saturday for what could be two massive games to close out their regular season schedule. Wenatchee leads the BC Hockey League with 230 goals for, well ahead of the Victoria Grizzlies for first, and possess the league’s leading scorer in Jasper Weatherby who has 37 goals and 72 points to pace the BCHL in scoring and if he can finish in the top spot in scoring, Weatherby would give the Wild a leading scorer in the league for the second straight season after Brendan Harris did so last season. Wenatchee captain AJ Vanderbeck has been outstanding this season as well with 35 goals and 59 points while Sam Morton, Lucas Sowder and Murphy Stratton have also been excellent for the Wild this season. Wenatchee defensemen have had a strong season producing from the back end as Cooper Zech is the highest scoring defenseman in the league since Mike Reilly of the Penticton Vees from the 2011/12 season and anchors the Wild blue line with 11 goals and 65 points this season. Zac Galambos has been a great add for the Wild defensively while Chad Sasaki and Slava Demin are always players to watch for from the blue line for the Wild. Seth Eisele will make his 12th straight start in the Wild goal with Austin Park remaining out of the lineup with an injury. Eisele has compiled an 8-3-0-0 record in those 11 previous starts with a 2.23 GAA and a .903 SV % and has been very good against the Warriors this season with a 2-0 record along with a 1.00 GAA and a .935 SV% but has yet to start at RLP.
It’s the final home game of the regular season with the Warriors and Wild battling head-to-head with $2.50 draft beer and 25 cent chicken wings being featured on Fan Appreciation Night! Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM at Royal LePage Place with tickets being available online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office one hour prior to the opening face-off. The game will also be broadcasted live on Shaw TV Okanagan (Channel 11).