3 Keys: Wild @ Warriors Game #31

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The West Kelowna Warriors look to snap a three-game losing stretch as they play host to the Wenatchee Wild on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place.

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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 (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) SPECIAL TEAMS PLAY

It’s played a factor in both of the Warriors games this week and, if I was a betting man, I’d imagine our old friend Mr. Special Teams will have a say in tonight’s contest between the Warriors and Wild from RLP. The Warriors did some good things special teams wise on Friday night in their loss to Merritt and those were on the power play with two goals coming courtesy of the man advantage and were the results of simple, hard plays. Stephen Kleysen was able to bury after a scramble that started with Jake Harrison taking the puck hard to the net on a 5-on-3 power play  while Chase Stevenson redirected in a Michael Ryan point shot while going hard to the front of the goal and actually getting knocked down in the act of tipping it home. So it was simple plays that created the Warriors opportunities to score and just because you change buildings, doesn’t mean you should change power play strategies. I think the same could be applied for tonight with making simple, hard plays to get to the front of the net and make life hard for whoever the heck is gonna play in goal for the Wild. The Warriors power play has been very good over the club’s last four games, going 8/27 (29.6%) and has been good against Wenatchee this season as they are 3/12 against their American foes when up in manpower and will be going up against a very good Wenatchee penalty kill that sits 2nd in the BCHL at 86.2% on the season. The Wild’s power play has scored in three straight games and is currently ranked 3rd in the league at 21.9% and will be a tough test for the Warriors penalty kill, which has surrendered four goals against in the last two games. Wenatchee sits at 2/11 on the season series against West Kelowna when on the power play and will be interesting to watch as the course of the night rolls along. The Wild have a plethora of offensive weapons to choose from in regards to their power play and the Warriors penalty kill will have to be alert on this night. The special teams battle is always a big one and I can imagine tonight won’t be any different.

2) PLAYING SHORTHANDED

No, I’m not talking about special teams anymore but the Warriors may feel like they are shorthanded for the entire night as their lineup is missing some key pieces for tonight. First off, I want to wish Chase Stevenson the best of luck as he heads to the Team Canada West selection camp in Calgary, Alberta with his flight from Kelowna heading out earlier this morning. With Stevenson’s absence for tonight, the Warriors will be extra shorthanded after already missing three regular forwards in the likes of Parm Dhaliwal, Matt Kowalski and Bennett Norlin. Dhaliwal may be able to return to the lineup for next weekend while Kowalski and Norlin may remain out until after the Christmas break and the Warriors have felt their presence out of their lineup on a nightly basis. West Kelowna will be missing a total of 240 games of BCHL experience out of their lineup and that’s tough for any team, never mind for the Warriors having four forwards out of their lineup for the night. West Kelowna will be looking at a depleted lineup of just 9 forwards and 7 defensemen for the night, which will be extremely tough for Warriors bench boss Rylan Ferster to work with. In saying that, the Warriors had just 10 forwards and 7 D last night in Merritt and I never really saw any signs of fatigue but having that extra forward in Stevenson out of the lineup will be a presence surely missed for the Warriors on a night where they play a team that comes in red hot. The Warriors will have to dig deep and fight past the fatigue they might have to come up with a big performance on Saturday night but if any team is up for that challenge, I think it’s this one.

3) THE OPPOSITION

The Wenatchee Wild sit in 4th place in the ultra-packed Interior Division with the Trail Smoke Eaters that sees them just four points out of top spot in the division and the league. This team plays with a ton of speed and skill and head coach Bliss Littler has gotten his squad playing some very strong hockey as of late, to the tune of an 8-1-0-1 record over the team’s last 10 games, outscoring their opposition by a 35-17 margin over that span. The team is lead in scoring by sophomore forward Jasper Weatherby, who recently committed to the University of North Dakota and you can see why as he has been a force in the 2017/18 season. The Lummi Island, Washington native is tied for the lead in points in the BCHL with Trail’s Ross Armour with 41 points heading into Saturday’s action. Weatherby also has a knack for finding the back of the net, sitting 2nd in the BCHL in goals with 21 and has been a thorn in the Warriors side through two games head-to-head this season as he holds 4 goals and 6 points in those two matchups. He leads a very skilled Wenatchee forward core that boasts the likes of captain AJ Vanderbeck, Murphy Stratton and Lucas Sowder, just to name a few. The Wild have 113 goals for this season, good for being tied for 2nd in the BCHL and are a handful to deal with, as the Warriors know first hand. The defense of the Wild is strong as well with potential NHL draft pick Slava Demin leading the charge from the blueline alongside Cooper Zech and Chad Sasaki, who is in his 2nd year with the Wild. As for in between the pipes, Seth Eisele and Austin Park have done a good job at holding opponents at bay. One thing to note on both of these netminders is that their save percentages both range under .900 but the Wild don’t surrender many shots on any given night but they have been good this season. My guess is the Warriors will see Austin Park on Saturday but the guessing game will remain on until one of them leads his team out for warmups. No matter who is in net, the Warriors will need to bring an ‘A’ effort against a tough Wenatchee team.

The Warriors and Wild drop the puck at 7:00 PM from Royal LePage Place on the third of their six-game season series. 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 face-off. If you can’t make it to the rink, Warriors Chaplain Pastor Don Richmond and myself will have the call on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com beginning at 6:45 PM with the pre-game show.

 

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3 Thoughts: Warriors @ Centennials Game #30

The West Kelowna Warriors surrendered four 3rd period goals and dropped their third straight decision by a 7-4 score to the Merritt Centennials on Friday night from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

MATT SAMSON PRE GAME

Game photos from tonight are provided by Ian Webster of the Merritt Herald:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) THE 3RD PERIOD

This game had similar traces to last Friday night’s matchup between the Warriors and Centennials with the script in favour of the Cents on this night as they came away with a 7-4 victory over the Warriors on Friday night in Merritt. This game was pretty entertaining through the opening 40 minutes of play and both teams having found the back of the net three times, twice on the power play for both sides. The Warriors had a lot of the pressure in the middle stanza with both teams playing a pretty even opening frame with equal amounts of zone time and chances. There was no question the Warriors were the better of the two sides in the 2nd period but Austin Roden was terrific in the frame, as he was all night long but more on that later. Roden made 19 saves in the 2nd period and his team rewarded him with two goals to tie it at 3. And then the 3rd period happened. Just 41 seconds into the period, Rylan Van Unen caught Cole Demers off his blocker side post and gave the Cents the 4-3 lead, and they wouldn’t look back after that. That’s a tough one to see go in and I’m sure it’s one that Demers would like to have back and probably stops 9/10 times but this was the one time it got by him and Merritt added to their lead just under 4 minutes later on a puck playing error by the Warriors netminder while shorthanded. Demers tried to clear the puck from his blocker side as he came out of his crease but his clearing attempt hit a pursuing Zach Zorn and went off the Merritt forward before going behind the net and having Zorn wrap it around on the glove side. Another play I’m sure that Cole would want back and a building that has certainly been tough for him over the last year. The Warriors didn’t have much in the way of chances in the 3rd period and the Centennials converted on their opportunities and came away with a big win on home ice and a Warriors team that has now lost three straight contests. I thought the game was a good one to the watch from a fan’s perspective through 40 minutes but a rough 3rd period did the Warriors in on this night and it’s back to the drawing board for West Kelowna against a very tough Wenatchee team on Saturday night at home.

2) RIDICULOUS RODEN

I’m not sure just how Centennials goaltender Austin Roden didn’t get recognized as the first star of the game because he was absolutely outstanding in the win for Merritt. The Warriors offence tried their best to crack Roden and, to their credit, they scored four goals on him but Roden, to me anyway, was the difference in this hockey game. The Cents netminder made a staggering 50 saves on 54 shots and I know, in a 7-4 game, you wouldn’t look to the goaltender as the number one guy but Roden did his part tonight and earned the Centennials a victory. It wasn’t any big, glamorous saves by Roden in his performance but just solid stops. I thought his positioning was great and seemed to be square to every puck he faced and I don’t think you can fault him on any of the goals that went in. And, for the third straight game, the Warriors went up against a strong goaltending performance. It’s tough to look at these straight losses and fault the Warriors effort in any of them as they have been in every game through this three-game stretch of losses but when a goaltender gets on a roll on any particular night, it’s tough to find a way to beat him and the Warriors have felt that pain, especially when firing 54 shots at net tonight and being rewarded just 4 of those times. Another valiant effort from the Warriors but Austin Roden was, well, ridiculous with 50 saves and did his part, in a large way, for the Cents win.

3 MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 7-4 loss against the Merritt Centennials on Friday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena are that for a third straight game, this team played some pretty good hockey but again are on the wrong side of the scoreboard. Certainly you’d like to have those two goals at the beginning of the 3rd period back and I think Cole definitely want another crack at those but it certainly wasn’t all on him. The penalty kill was a bit of a letdown for the Warriors, going 2/4 on the night and giving up each of the Cents PPG’s right after the Warriors had gotten leads was tough to see. That’s now 4 PP goals against in the last two games for the Warriors and the PK has fallen to 82.6% on the season, good for 7th in the BCHL after spending much of the season in the top 5. The Warriors just needed a bit of extra unf on this night and just couldn’t get it and have suffered their longest losing stretch of the season with the loss tonight. Another concerning factor for this team is their divisional play. The Warriors are just 6-12-0-1 against their own division and that is something that will need to change over the next few matchups within their division. I liked the Warriors effort in this game tonight and thought it was a thoroughly entertaining game to watch and have the chance to call but at the end of the day, the Warriors will need to be better if they want to get two points and will be put up against a stiff test on Saturday night.

The Warriors are back in action on Saturday night when they return to Royal LePage Place to take on the Wenatchee Wild in search of their first win in the season series against their rival from south of the border. Tickets can be purchased 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 @ Centennials Game #30

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The West Kelowna Warriors make the trek to the Nicola Valley to face-off against the Merritt Centennials on Friday night at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

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Warriors vs. Centennials 2017/18 Schedule:

Saturday, September 16th @ Royal LePage Place (3-1 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Sunday, October 29th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (5-1 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, November 24th @ Royal LePage Place (7-2 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, December 1st @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)

Saturday, February 3rd @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Friday, February 23rd @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)

3 KEYS:

1) SIMPLIFY YOUR GAME

There will be some hard minutes logged on Friday night as the Warriors head to Merritt to face-off against the Centennials. As the Warriors well know, it can be a tough place to play in the tight confines of Nicola Valley Memorial Arena and West Kelowna will have to keep their game simple in order to try and get a road victory. There’s no much room to roam when in Merritt as the centre ice line is (at least it feels like it) basically where the blue line is in a normal sized rink and the bounces are about as unpredictable as they can get. Most of the Warriors roster has played in this building enough to know about the bounces, especially the starting goaltender for tonight in Cole Demers. You’ll have to be alert and know your surroundings as a goaltender in this barn and Demers has started any games in this building to know that. The end boards get quite the workout as pucks can get off of those and head right for the front of the net and the Warriors will have to be cautious about that. On the flip side, it’s something that West Kelowna will want to do lots of is missing the net (on purpose) to create rebounds and scoring chances. They’ll be going up against a goaltender who knows that building well and the bounces in either Jacob Berger or Austin Roden and will have to get bodies to the front of the net and traffic to the crease. Most of the time in Merritt, it’s not a highlight reel goal that will go in but just simple, hard working plays and the Warriors, who have been doing playing hard and strong games, will need to continue that in a tough environment to play in like Merritt. The “Stars and Stripes” line of RJ Murphy, Mike Lombardi and Willie Reim have been a strong line for head coach Rylan Ferster to use and with the big bodies and puck protecting abilities of both Reim and Murphy, they could have an effective night tonight in Merritt. The Warriors will need a hard working effort and it will be the simple things that could lead them to a win in Merritt against the Centennials on Friday night.

2) OFF TO A GOOD START

The Warriors have done a pretty good job at starting the game off well and getting momentum early on and they will be looking to do the same on Friday night. West Kelowna has not scored the opening goal in their last two games but have provided some good energy and jump off the hop, just look back to Wednesday night when Chase Stevenson got a good scoring chance just moments into the game. Starting off on a good note will be a big key for the Warriors on Friday, trying to get ahead and take the crowd out of the game early on. With many of the odd bounces and small features that this rink has, it could help the Warriors offence that has struggled to score over the last pair of games. West Kelowna has done a great job in generating offensive chances but have not been able to find the back of net and playing in Merritt could change that with a smaller ice surface and puck bouncing off of the boards to spots you wouldn’t normally see. Keeping things simple with lots of shots and shot attempts as well as getting your legs early and starting off strong could really help the Warriors in an attempt to get back in the win column. The Warriors, I believe, will be going up against Jacob Berger, who had a rough start his last time out against the Warriors but has always been outstanding when playing at home and West Kelowna will have their hands full trying to beat either him or Austin Roden, whoever gets the start on Friday night. But a good, early start to the game, whether it is a goal or a big chance or something to get the ball rolling could benefit the Warriors in a big way.

3) THE OPPOSITION

The Centennials come into this game with a 10-13-1-2 record and sit just 10 points behind the Warriors in the Interior Division standings, which have gotten even tighter than we have seen before. Merritt is led in scoring by Henry Cleghorn, who has taken the lead in scoring from Zach Zorn and has points in four straight games. The 3-year BCHL veteran has 10 goals and 23 points this season, which both lead the Cents in those departments. Not much has changed over the course of the week in regards of scoring compared to the last time these two teams met one week ago as both sides won’t have to change the scouting reports very much at all. One thing that Merritt will look to improve upon is their home record, sitting at 6-7-0-1 at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena this season and a team that usually takes full advantage of being at home. The Warriors have had their issues at the NVMA and the Cents have won their last two home games and have won three of their last four on home ice so starting to heat up in the bitter cold of the NVMA. Back to the Cents roster, defenseman Tyrell Buckley plays the most out of their six regulars as the Cents captain will see a lot of the ice while in goal, your guess is as good as mine as to who starts in goal but I would take a stab at Austin Roden starting. The Warriors have seen Jacob Berger twice this season and only have seen Roden in a relief effort so I’d guess Roden but it could very well be Berger with the Cents travelling to Trail tomorrow to take on the Smoke Eaters. The Cents are playing better hockey as of late compared to the start of their season and tonight will be a big battle for two points for each of these sides.

The Warriors and Centennials drop the puck at 7:00 PM from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena with the pre-game show starting at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com as I will have the call from Merritt. West Kelowna returns to RLP on Saturday night when they host the Wenatchee Wild for a 7:00 PM face-off.

3 Thoughts: Warriors @ Vees Game #29

The West Kelowna Warriors played a solid 60 minutes but couldn’t find any offence as they fell by a 3-0 score to the Penticton Vees on Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

SHAE NAKA PRE GAME

FRED HARBINSON PRE GAME

WARRIORS ALUMNI KYLE MARINO

MIKE LOMBARDI

Game photos from Wednesday night’s contest provided by Cherie Morgan of Cherie Morgan Photography:

3 THOUGHTS:

1) SEARCHING FOR OFFENCE

For the most part on Wednesday night, I thought the Warriors were the better of the two teams in their 3-0 loss to the Penticton Vees at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Warriors played large stretches of this game as the better team but, as it has been all season long, offence has been hard to come by. Give credit to Vees netminder Adam Scheel, who was very good tonight and made 33 saves in the game for his second consecutive shutout. The Warriors had many chances in this game to score and it started in the opening period with Chase Stevenson being robbed off a nice centering feed from Chase Dubois from the left wing but Scheel was there for a good glove side. Just about 6 minutes later, Scheel was tested yet again on a bit of an odd play as the Vees tried to the clear their zone but the puck was deflected in the neutral zone back into the Vees end and gave Jordan Todd a chance in tight to open the scoring. Todd tried to go high over the glove but Scheel was there for the answer once more with a big stop. The 3rd real good save, and his best of the night, came in the 3rd period with the game in the Vees favour by a goal. Willie Reim busted down the right wing and cut to the goal with Scheel making the first stop and the puck going off his pad and into the slot for RJ Murphy. Murphy held and got let a wrister go from the right hash marks with Scheel down but the 18-year-old netminder got his glove on it and made a huge stop wihile down and out to keep the Vees lead intact. Scheel was great tonight but the Warriors had their opportunities to try and score in this contest and, for a second game in a row, weren’t able to bury on their chances and suffered a shutout for just the 2nd time this season.

2) THE MAN ADVANTAGE

Sometimes, and very rarely does it happen, I am right when writing some keys to the game and it actually comes to fruition. Well, it actually happened on Wednesday night as my number one key heading into the game was the fact that special teams had not been a big factor in this season series and tonight, they became one as the Vees scored two of their three goals on the power play and came away with the 3-0 victory. To me, anyway, the Warriors didn’t really do a bad job at killing those penalties, however. The Vees first goal, and the eventual game winning marker, was a shot from the midpoint by Jonny Tychonick that went off the stick of Jordan Todd and found the back of the net, an extremely unfortunate break for the Warriors that went in favour of the home team. The 2nd Vees PPG wasn’t because of poor penalty killing (the PK had only one second on it when Penticton scored) but a great shot from Massimo Rizzo at the glove side post. Rizzo set up at the bottom of the right face-off circle and snuck a shot under the arm of Amundrud for a perfectly place shot and another Vees power play marker, adding to their total over the last five games. What might be frustrating for the Warriors after the dust settles is that their penalty kill wasn’t really as poor as the boxscore might indicate and it’s another night of this team playing really well but not coming away with two points. They’ve stacked up against very good goaltenders over the last two contests in Ty Taylor and Adam Scheel and haven’t been able to crack them much and on Wednesday, it was unfortunately the penalty kill that took a hit.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 3-0 loss to the Penticton Vees on Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre was that it was another night of missed chances for the Warriors and their offence will need to find a rhythm and start producing. Looking back at this game, at least through my memory, the Warriors weren’t all that bad. An unfortunate bounce on the first goal and a good shot on the second with an empty netter added in there for the Vees but the Warriors just couldn’t get the puck in the back of the net despite their best efforts. Adam Scheel played extremely well on this night with 33 saves on potentially the save of the year on RJ Murphy in the 3rd period. I liked that “Stars and Stripes” line yet again as the trio of Americans did some really good things for the Warriors and generated their best chances. I also really liked (as I usual do on most nights) Jake Harrison as he forced the play out of his own end and join the rush and created some good looks for the Warriors forwards, and threw another one of his patent hip checks. I know these blogs might be getting predictable in saying that the Warriors played well but they couldn’t get any scoring but over the last two games, that has been the case. It’s so tough to generate any chances off a team like Penticton and the Warriors were shown a couple of good looks right off the bat but just couldn’t beat Scheel on this occasion. And, before this blog comes to an end, it also needs to be noted that Amundrud was no slouch tonight in between the pipes either. He made a huge stop on a shorthanded breakaway from Grant Cruikshank, trying to go five hole but Amundrud shut the door and although he wasn’t tested often, I thought he looked very good in the crease but it was another night of running into a strong goaltender on the other side of the puck.

The Warriors return to action on Friday night when they head to the Nicola Valley to play the Merritt Centennials at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena for a 7:00 PM face-off. Pre-game festivities kick off at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com as I will have the call.

3 Keys: Warriors @ Vees Game #29

The West Kelowna Warriors are officially half way through their 2017/18 season as they head to the South Okanagan Events Centre to take on the Penticton Vees on Wednesday night.

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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 (7:00 PM)

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

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

3 KEYS:

1) SPECIAL TEAMS BATTLE

There hasn’t been much of a special teams battle between these two teams in the season series but that could change coming into tonight matchup between the Warriors and Vees from the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. The Warriors have the only power play goal of this season series, which came at the SOEC as Chase Dubois tallied with 1:14 left to get the Warriors within a goal in an eventual 2-1 loss to the Vees. But that has been it when it comes to power play scoring with West Kelowna 1/8 on the man advantage and Penticton coming in at 0/8 in the season series. There hasn’t been much in the way of penalties called through the three games head-to-head and nor has there had to be, it’s been two teams that skate fast and keep the tempo up. Tonight, the special teams could make it or break it for either one of these sides with both teams coming in with a hot power play. The Warriors have a power play goal in each of their last three games, going 6/21 (28.6%) over that span while the Vees man advantage has been red-hot, entering the game 1st in the BCHL at 22.5% and has gone 5/13 (38.5%) over the last four games, including a PPG in each of those four contests. We’ve seen this before with both teams power plays coming in on a roll and each team only getting about 2 or 3 man advantages to work with and not getting much traction on the power play which makes the chances they get vital to try and gain momentum and possibly score. The Vees come into the game with the number one ranked penalty kill as well (at 88.8%, 3 percentage points over 2nd place Langley) and have killed off their last 13 power plays so it could be tough sledding for the Warriors on the power play tonight but they will have to battle through and find a way to get some chances. There hasn’t been much in the way of special teams in the season series but it could be the deciding factor in tonight’s game.

2) FINISHING ON CHANCES

The Warriors struggled to bury on their chances on Saturday against the Vernon Vipers at RLP and will have to have that change going into tonight’s game in Penticton. West Kelowna did go up against a strong goaltender in Ty Taylor and a strong defense but the same will be applied for tonight and if you’re gonna hang with the teams at the top of the division standings, you’re gonna have to generate some offence. I don’t mean to be that harsh on a team that has been playing some pretty good hockey this season but with just two wins against the top 4 teams in the Interior Division (in 12 games), something is going to have to change. The Warriors can look back at their victory against Penticton on November 3rd where they were the better team and pushed the pace and outworked the Vees. A similar storyline will have to take place in order to get a win tonight and will need to work hard to create offensive chances and when they get them, they’re going to have to bury on them because the Vees are a team that don’t make many mistakes, especially inside their own zone. Not to mention that the Warriors go up against one of the best goaltenders, statistically, in the BCHL tonight in Adam Scheel, with the Lakewood, Ohio native sitting tied for 1st in GAA with 1.99 and 2nd in save percentage at .928%. So even if the chances are presented, it’s no sure bet that the Warriors will be able to score with Scheel in between the pipes so West Kelowna will have to be on their ‘A’ game tonight. They will also need a similar performance in their crease from 20-year-old Nik Amundrud from when he started against the Vees on September 29th and was very good in that game with 31 saves on 33 shots and was the only reason the Warriors were in that game until the final buzzer. But the script remains the same for West Kelowna heading into Penticton that you will have to bury your chances to get a road victory.

3) THE OPPOSITION

The Vees are back to being the Vees. They’ve won 7 straight games and are back to where they are accustomed to being after a bit of a rocky stretch to begin the month of November. In that span, the Vees have outscored their opposition by a staggering 39-9 margin but have come back to reality in the goal scoring department in the last few games after scoring 28 goals in three games just a couple of weeks ago. This year’s version of the Vees is built from the back end out with Scheel manning the crease for Penticton and doing a stellar job so far in his rookie season in the BCHL. A lot of the Vees offence generates from their defense so guys like Jonny Tychonick and Nicky Leivermann will have to be watched for tonight. Tychonick comes into the game with a five-game point streak in which he has a goal and ten assists over that span while Leivermann has collected three goals and seven points in just three head-to-head matchups against the Warriors this season. Up front, Penticton will be without forwards Jackson Keane and Chris Klack, who are both out until at least the Christmas, but still boast a strong forward core in the likes of captain Owen Sillinger, Grant Cruikshank and Massimo Rizzo (who had 5 assists in the last meeting between these two teams) just to name a few. The Vees sit 7th in goals for in the BCHL and 1st in goals against, giving up just 54 in 25 games this season and will be tough to score on but the Warriors have put up 4 against Penticton this season so it is certainly possible. This game will have a different look to it than the 11-3 final from two weeks ago as the Warriors will look to return that favour of a home loss to the Vees tonight.

The game goes at 7:00 PM tonight from the South Okanagan Events Centre with the pre-game getting underway at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com with myself on the call. The Warriors continue their play away from RLP with a matchup against the Merritt Centennials on Friday night from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena with puck drop slated for 7:00 PM.

 

3 Thoughts: Vipers @ Warriors Game #28

The West Kelowna Warriors couldn’t bury on their chances as they dropped a 4-2 decision to the Vernon Vipers on Saturday night at Royal LePage Place.

BOXSCORE

WARRIORS WEBSITE RECAP

RYLAN FERSTER PRE GAME

MARK FERNER PRE GAME

WYATT HEAD

3 THOUGHTS:

1) MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Saturday night was one of missed opportunities for the Warriors in a 4-2 loss to the Vernon Vipers at Royal LePage Place. It was an entertaining contest for the 805 in attendance for the night as both teams showed off their strengths as quick and skilled teams. It was also an opportunity for the Warrior faithful to see the Vipers for the first time this season and can now understand why that team is at the top of the BCHL in the standings. The Warriors played a pretty good game with everyone buying into the speed game that they had to play in order to have a chance to beat the Vipers for the first time this season but it was Vernon burying on their chances and West Kelowna that did not. Of course you have to give credit to Ty Taylor on Saturday as he was excellent. 35 saves on 37 shots including some mammoth saves to preserve the lead for the Vipers in the 3rd period. In the opening frame, Taylor made a fantastic stop on RJ Murphy at the side of the net on a rebound. Willie Reim had his arms raised in the air thinking the Warriors had opening the scoring but Taylor robbed Murphy with the glove. The other big save (and a large missed chance for the Warriors came off of a penalty shot in the 3rd period. Mike Lombardi was hooked from behind by Shane Kelly on a breakaway and was awarded a penalty shot for his efforts. Just about 1:40 after Chase Dubois got the game within two, (Dubois will get credit for a goal given to Chase Stevenson in the 3rd period) Lombardi moved in slowly on Taylor and shot blocker side but the Vernon netminder stuck with him the entire way for a big save and keeping the Vipers two-goal lead intact. The third big save for Taylor on Saturday came on a shorthanded chance for the Warriors as Jared Marino was all alone on a 4-on-3 power play for Vernon with the Warriors captain at the top of the crease as he tried to turn from his backhand to his forehand and Taylor got his left pad out for a big save to keep the lead intact once more. Taylor was outstanding on the night but the Warriors lacked the finish they needed to get a win over the Vipers.

2) NOT ENOUGH OFFENCE

The Warriors got close and had some chances to try and come back in this game but couldn’t get over the hump of trying to tie or even get this game within a goal. They did get it within in a goal in the 2nd period with Cavin Tilsley putting home his own rebound to cut the Vipers lead to 2-1 at that point in the 2nd period. It felt as though the building got some life but the visitors were quick to answer on a big scramble in the crease of Nik Amundrud. Brett Stapley found the puck in the left face-off circle and turned toward the net and beat the crowd and Amundrud to give Vernon their two-goal advantage back and a point in which I felt was a bit of a backbreaker for the Warriors, who had worked so hard to get the game within one. Josh Prokop, who has loved playing West Kelowna, picked up his 5th goal against the Warriors this season as he burned past the Warriors defense and tucked the puck through the legs of Amundrud to give Vernon a 4-1 lead. The Warriors just couldn’t get much past Ty Taylor on this night but had lots of opportunities to do so and certainly missed the services of Parm Dhaliwal as the Warriors forward missed Saturday’s game with an upper body injury and likely won’t be back for a three-game week the Warriors have upcoming against Penticton, Merritt and Wenatchee. To go along with the scoring chances the Warriors had, their shot selection will have to be shored up as the games go along as well. On Friday, the Warriors directed nearly 100 shots toward the Merritt net and had 55 of those either blocked or missed the night and Saturday night was a similar story with a lot of shots being blocked with credit to Vernon who are a very good team when it comes to blocking shots. Missing the net, however, is something that is self induced and the Warriors will look for more shots directed at the goal.

3) MY TAKEAWAYS

My takeaways from the Warriors 4-2 loss to the Vernon Vipers from Royal LePage Place on Saturday was that the Warriors played a pretty strong game but went up against a strong goaltender as Ty Taylor had himself an excellent night that led the Vipers to a win. Josh Prokop was very good for Vernon with a pair of goals on the night while the Vipers got scoring when they needed it and strong goaltending all night to get a victory. I thought Jared Marino had one of his better games of the season, so hard to get off of the puck and once he gets going, good luck trying to slow him down. RJ Murphy was another standout for me from the Warriors tonight, playing a fast game and had some good looks on goal including the one chance in the first period where he was robbed by Taylor with the glove. Overall, I thought the Warriors played a pretty good game but give credit to Vernon, that’s a tough team to beat and one the Warriors have had their struggles with. West Kelowna will have to find a way to beat the top teams in the Interior Division as they hold just two wins in games against Trail, Vernon, Wenatchee and Penticton this season in 12 games. That’s not going to be good enough as you know that you’ll have to go through at least two of those teams to come out of the Interior Division in April.

The Warriors are back in action on Wednesday night when they head to South Okanagan to take on the Penticton Vees for the 4th time this season. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with the pre game going at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com as I’ll have the call from the South Okanagan Events Centre.

3 Keys: Vipers @ Warriors Game #28

The West Kelowna Warriors look for a strong finish to Parent’s Weekend as they host the Vernon Vipers for the first time this season at Royal LePage Place on Saturday night.

WATCH

LISTEN

Warriors vs. Vipers 2017/18 Schedule:

Saturday, October 28th @ Kal Tire Place (5-2 Vipers) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, November 4th @ Kal Tire Place (5-3 Vipers) (BOXSCORE)

Wednesday, November 15th @ Kal Tire Place (3-2 Vipers/OT) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, November 25th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
Tuesday, January 16th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Friday, January 26th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

3 KEYS:

1) STRONG START

The Warriors got a strong start in their 7-2 win on Friday night against the Merritt Centennials and will be looking to do the same in front of their home crowd against the Vipers tonight. The Warriors and Vipers each have strong records when scoring first as both teams like to play with the lead and keep it throughout the game, something in this season series that the Vipers have done well in the three games at Kal Tire Place prior to this meeting. The Warriors hold an 11-2-0-0 record when recording the game’s first goal while the Vipers are 13-2-2-0 when hitting the scoresheet first, something that will be a big key for both teams heading into this matchup and trying to get on the board early, especially given Vernon’s tough schedule over the course of this week. The Vipers played in Wenatchee on Wednesday night in a 2-1 loss before rebounding with a 4-0 victory in Trail against the Smoke Eaters on Friday night and getting home early this morning ahead of tonight’s matchup in West Kelowna. Obviously, the Warriors will be looking to bring energy all night but you can expect an early push from the visitors to try and take the crowd out of the game early on and the Warriors will have to match that intensity early on. It will be interesting to see if fatigue plays a factor for the Vipers at all tonight after their difficult schedule from the week. The Warriors will need to continue to use their speed as they did on Friday and will look to get off to a good start and have that momentum carry over throughout the game. The first few shifts of this game will be big to get the Warriors and their faithful involved and trying to get a good atmosphere going around the building.

2) YOU LOOK FAMILIAR

This will be the fourth meeting of the season series between the Warriors and Vipers and after not having played each other for almost two months to start the season, these two Interior Division foes will be meeting for the fourth time in six weeks and won’t need much of a scouting report on one another. All three previous matchups have been played in the confines of Kal Tire Place in Vernon with the Vipers coming away as victors in all three games and the Warriors will be trying to keep the home team winning portion of the season series as the scene shifts to West Kelowna for the final three games of the season set. The Warriors and Vipers have played their season series to a relatively close margin, with the first game of the season set being the largest win for the Vipers, although The Tribe did tie the game in the 2nd period after being down 2-0 early in that second frame. It was, essentially, a one-goal game on November 4th when Josh Prokop scored a hat trick in Vernon’s 5-3 win over the Warriors while the 3rd game of the series saw an double overtime loss for the Warriors after Michael Ryan and Stephen Kleysen provided some ‘O’ from the ‘D’. Despite the 0-3 record against the Vipers this season, the Warriors haven’t actually played all too bad against their rivals to the North but will need to find a way to overcome the Vipers tonight to try and close out their annual Parent’s Weekend on a strong note. They did it last year, beating Wenatchee and then Vernon on back-to-back nights for a Parent’s Weekend sweep and as fate may have it, the Vipers are back in town for the final game of the weekend and we will see if the story line will be the same for another season, the Warriors sure hope so.

3) THE OPPOSITION

The Vipers are the number one ranked team in the BC Hockey League with 40 points after last night’s 4-0 victory in Trail against the Smoke Eaters, a team who is just one point behind them in the standings but the Vipers have seemingly had their number this season, especially in Trail where they have outscored them by a 13-0 margin in two games played at Cominco Arena. The Vipers, as I’ve said many times on this blog, boast the powerful top line of Brett Stapley, Jimmy Lambert and Jordan Sandhu and will be the top watch of the Warriors defense tonight, although that line will be missing one key piece as the 18-year-old Sandhu will not play due to an injury. Tanner Wishnowski also will sit tonight as he continues to nurse an ailment that has seen him out for more games than he has played. The Vipers have plenty of offence to go along with Stapley and Lambert as captain Jagger Williamson, Niko Karamanis, Jesse Lansdell and Josh Prokop (just to name a few) can add some quick strike punch at any point in the game. Vernon’s D-core has been the most impressive part for me of their group this season with returnees Michael Ufberg, Shane Kelly, Chris Jandric and Sol Seibel leading the charge. 19-year-old University of Connecticut commit Michael Young has been a solid add to the Vipers back end while Jack Judson has played well out of his 17-year-old age and was invited (along with Stapley and goaltender Ty Taylor) to the Team Canada West selection camp in a week with Warriors forward Chase Stevenson. In goal tonight, Ty Taylor will be seeing the Warriors for a third time this season, holding a 2-0 record against West Kelowna this year along with a 1.90 GAA and a .935 SV% and has been very good when he sees the Warriors so far this season. The game’s are always tight, especially in this building between these two sides and I’d predict Saturday night to much of the same.

The Warriors and Vipers drop the puck at 7:00 PM with the pre game show going at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com with myself and Don Richmond on the call. Tickets are available for the game 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.