Wednesday, 30 September 2015

September 30th @ Merritt PREVIEW

The West Kelowna Warriors will wrap up September at the Nicola Valley Arena in Merritt when they meet the Centennials for the 3rd time this season.

These two teams have already had good battles so far, as each won their own home openers in a back to back set to open up the BCHL season.

There will be a change in goal for the Centennials heading into this match-up, as they have released 20-year-old Anthony Pupplo, while signing 17-year-old WHL cut Cole Kehler. The right handed catching Kehler, went 3-14-2 for the Kamloops Blazers last season, posting a 4.65 GAA to go with a .855 save percentage.

The other netminder in the Merritt fold is 1998 born Coleton Lancaster, who played 43 minutes for the Warriors as an affiliate last season. He is 1-1, with a 5.69 GAA in 2 games this season for Merritt.

The Warriors will try to use their added size in the small confines of the Nicola Valley Arena, and see if their physical play can set the tone early. The defensive side of the game is always the key in Merritt, and it should be once again. West Kelowna is feeling good on that side of the puck, allowing just 1 even-strength, and 1 power play goal at the BCHL Showcase.

With the Interior Division in its usual tight state, these 4-point swing games are key to keeping momentum.


Merritt Centennials– 3-4 (5th Interior)

HOME – 2-2
ROAD – 1-2
(includes Showcase Home/Road)

Top Scorers
Colin Grannary (5 G, 4 A)
Zak Bowles (3 G, 6 A)
Nick Jermain (5 G, 3 A)
Gavin Gould (5 G, 2 A)

GF – 26
GA – 34

PP – 7th - 7 for 33 (21.2%)
PK – 17th – 19 for 30 (63.3%)
West Kelowna – 4-2 (3rd Interior)

HOME – 3-1
ROAD – 1-1
(includes Showcase Home/Road)

Top Scorers
Jonathan Desbiens (4 G, 3 A)
Liam Blackburn (2 G, 5 A)
Garrett Forster (1 G, 6 A)
Reed Gunville (0 G, 7 A)

GF – 25
GA – 18

PP – 1st - 9 for 29 (31.0%)
PK – 22 for 28 (78.6%)

Next Game – Saturday October 3rd – vs WENATCHEE – 7 PM
Royal Lepage Place
Head-to-Head Lifetime – West Kelowna leads 42-14-1-4
West Kelowna is 19-8-0-3 in Merritt

2014/2015 Head to Head – West Kelowna went 2-2-0-3 vs. Merritt
West Kelowna went 0-1-0-2 in Merritt in 2014/2015

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Showcase RECAP

It's been a couple days since the end of the Bauer BCHL Showcase where the Warriors went 2-0 with wins against both Cowichan Valley and Langley.

Special Teams ruled the day on Saturday afternoon, as both teams scored ONLY on the power play, but it was the Warriors getting 2 goals, and the Caps only 1.

Kyle Marino's howitzer went through Storm Phaneuf, before Jonathan Desbiens went bar-down on a delayed zone entry at the end of a 4 on 4 scenario.

Forbes Ploszaj was solid in the game, making 25 saves for his 2nd win of the season, and the lone goal that he allowed was a perfect back-door pass to a waiting Ayden MacDonald that Forbes had no hope in getting to.

The penalty kill was good in the final 4 minutes of the game as well, blocking numerous shots with Tanner Campbell ejected for a Blow to the Head major. With the win, West Kelowna moved to 3-2.

On Sunday night, with very few left in the stands, the Warriors got a 1st-period goal from Connor Sodergren, as his 1st in the BCHL broke the deadlock as he buried a rebound from the front of the net.

Langley tied it up with a quick wrister from Ben Butcher in the 2nd frame, and again Ploszaj cannot be faulted for it. The clearing attempt hit a stanchion, bounced right to the middle and Butcher had all day to snap one home upstairs. 1 inch either way on the clear and the puck is off the glass and out.

Paul Lovsin gave the Warriors the lead as he would go shelf on Nic Trencianski, and that's what the Warriors went into the intermission with.

Right before the buzzer of the middle frame, Kyle Marino was taken down and awkwardly fallen on, which lead to Rylan Ferster earning a bench minor for disagreeing. The conversation would escalate into a game misconduct for the Warriors coach as Shae Naka took over the bench.

Kyle Marino gave the Warriors a two-goal lead late, before Lovsin buried his 2nd of the game into an empty net.

Showcase Thoughts:
The Warriors allowed just 2 goals in 120 minutes while in Chilliwack, a testament both to the netminding of Forbes Ploszaj, and the stingy defense of West Kelowna, including the play of Bryan Nelson and Scott Allan, who both fit into the systems really well and really quickly.

Special Teams won the game Saturday night, and you could make the argument that it did on Sunday too, as the penalty kill was an impressive 91.7% in the event. While the Warriors still rank 14th in the category in the BCHL, they definitely showed improvement.

The Interior Division did not dominate this years Showcase, (10-1-0-1) in 2014, which showed some better parity and some very entertaining games. Having the event 3 weeks into the season definitely made for better hockey, as players were more familiar with one another.

Four teams were 2-0 at the 2015 event, as Wenatchee, Penticton, and Powell River all matched the Warriors mark.

Next action for West Kelowna is tomorrow (Wednesday) in Merritt as they take on the Centennials at 7 PM.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Showcase vs Langley Preview

The West Kelowna Warriors won their opener of the BCHL Showcase with a hard fought 2-1 win over Cowichan Valley on Saturday afternoon.

The power play was the key to the hockey game, as all three goals came with the man advantage. West Kelowna was trailing 1-0 after 20 minutes but got goals from Kyle Marino in the 2nd and Jonathan Desbiens in the 3rd period.

The game also revolved around the goaltending of Storm Phaneuf as he made countless saves on the Warriors offense through the first 35:05 of the hockey game. Marino's shot was hammered from the point off a face-off, with Phaneuf getting barely a piece. Desbiens went bar-down coming off the bench after a 4-on-4 situation, breaking the tie.

The Warriors handled adversity in the final 5 minutes, getting multiple blocked shots with Tanner Campbell ejected for a Blow to the Head. With the penalty kill, West Kelowna picked up their 3rd win of the season.

Forbes Ploszaj picked up his 2nd win of the young season, making 25 saves.

To wrap up the Showcase, the Warriors will take on the 3-1 Langley Rivermen. It will be another test for the Warriors, as the Rivermen also have a large team that likes to play physical.

Langley Rivermen – 3-1

HOME – 1-1
ROAD – 1-0

Top Scorers
Matthew Graham (2 G, 4 A)
Justin Fregona (5 G, 0 A)
4 others – 4 points

GF – 14
GA – 8

PP – 7 for 29 (24.1%)
PK – 23 for 28 (82.1%)
West Kelowna – 3-2

HOME – 2-1
ROAD – 0-1

Top Scorers
Jonathan Desbiens (4 G, 2 A)
Liam Blackburn (2 G, 4 A)
Rylan Yaremko (3 G, 2 A)

GF – 21
GA – 17

PP – 9 for 25 (36.0%)
PK – 16 for 22 (72.7%)

Next Game – Wednesday September 30th vs. Merritt – 7:00 PM – Nicola Valley Arena
Head-to-Head Lifetime – West Kelowna is 6-6-1-3 vs Langley
2014/2015 Head to Head – West Kelowna went 0-1-0-1 vs Langley Last Season

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Showcase vs. Cowichan PREVIEW

The West Kelowna Warriors head to Prospera Center on Saturday for their first Bauer BCHL Showcase game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals at 4 pm.

Last year, the Warriors found success in Chilliwack, winning 6-2 over Coquitlam and 7-6 against Nanaimo to open up their season.

As it has been for the last 3 years, the Showcase is an opportunity to continue to make an impression on the schools that are already looking at you, or to open some eyes of schools that didn't have a player on the radar.

While nerves can be a factor in these situations, players seem to settle in after the first 10 minutes, like Game 1 of a playoff series. With the games counting in the regular season standings, the intensity is always high.

The Cowichan Valley Capitals have enjoyed early success this season, starting off 3-0. Both teams will be on even footing, as both play their first game against one another.

Leading the charge for the Capitals has been former Warriors Adam Osczevski and Kade Kehoe, who each have 5 points. Osczevski had a 4-goal game against Alberni, before missing 1 game due to suspension. While the suspension is 2 games, he will not miss Saturday's match-up as the Showcase is considered a separate event, so suspensions earned before the Showcase are not served until after.

The Warriors have added a piece to their defense-corp and filled their roster to the 22-max players. Bryan Nelson has joined the team from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Last season, Nelson played for the Walpole Express in the Eastern Hockey League. He looked to be paired with fellow Shrewsbury native Nick Rutigliano during practice this week, and will wear #2.

Stat Pack
Cowichan Valley – 3-0

HOME – 3-0
ROAD – 0-0 

Top Scorers
Adam Osczevski (4 G, 1 A)
Kade Kehoe (1 G, 4 A)
Ryan Burton (2 G, 1 A)

GF – 14
GA – 6

PP – 1 for 12 (8.3%)
PK – 14 for 18 (77.8%)
West Kelowna – 2-2

HOME – 2-1
ROAD – 0-1

Top Scorers
Liam Blackburn (2 G, 4 A)
Jonathan Desbiens (3 G, 2 A)
Rylan Yaremko (3 G, 2 A)

GF – 19
GA – 16

PP – 7 for 18 (38.9%)
PK – 11 for 16 (68.8%)

Next Game – Sunday September 27th  vs Langley (BCHL SHOWCASE)
7:30 PM Prospera Center Chilliwack
Head-to-Head Lifetime – West Kelowna is 10-3-0-3 vs Cowichan
2014/2015 Head to Head – West Kelowna went 1-0-0-1 vs Cowichan Last Season

Saturday, 19 September 2015

September 19th vs. Penticton PREVIEW

The West Kelowna Warriors bounced the Trail Smoke Eaters Tuesday night at RLP by an 8-3 score.

West Kelowna played a solid game from top to bottom, out-shooting and out-chancing the Smoke Eaters, which has been a common theme early on this season.

The Warriors power-play has been clicking early on, scoring 6 times and accounting for 33% of their goals in the first 3 games. 
West Kelowna has been getting it done with the man advantage in a variety of ways including point shots, deflections, and greasy goals in and around the net.

Everyone remembers last year’s playoffs right? How could you forget the 5-game series, which the Vees won, that featured 3 OT games, and another decided in the last 2 minutes.

These two teams have a heated rivalry and it was apparent in the exhibition schedule as well, as the physical play continued.

This is set to be another great Interior Division battle between the Vees and the Warriors.

Stats Pack
Penticton – 2-1

HOME – 1-0
ROAD – 1-1 

Top Scorers
Tyson Jost (5 A)
Easton Brodzinski (4 G, 0 A)
Scott Conway (3 G, 1 A)

GF – 11
GA – 8

PP – 9th – 3-21 (14.2%)
PK – 5th – 9-10 (90.0%)
West Kelowna – 2-1

HOME – 2-0
ROAD – 0-1

Top Scorers
Liam Blackburn (2 G, 4 A)
Reed Gunville (5 A)
4 others with 4 points

GF – 18
GA – 12

PP – 1st – 6-14 (42.9%)
PK – 14th – 10-13 (76.9%)

Next Game – Saturday September 26th vs Cowichan (BCHL SHOWCASE)
4 PM Prospera Center Chilliwack
Head-to-Head Lifetime – West Kelowna is 18-44-0-7 vs Penticton
West Kelowna is 9-21-0-5 vs Penticton at RLP
2014/2015 Head to Head – West Kelowna went 2-5 vs. Penticton
West Kelowna went 0-3 at home against Penticton last season.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Warriors 8 - Trail 3 - September 15th

The West Kelowna Warriors flexed their offensive muscles in an 8-3 victory on Tuesday night at Royal Lepage Place. Once the Warriors scored their 3rd goal of the game, they were in complete control, up 5-1 after 2, and controlling the play throughout.

Trail would open the scoring early on the power-play, as Harlan Orr snapped one past Forbes Ploszaj who made his first start of his BCHL career.

West Kelowna tied the game up on the man advantage as Jonathan Desbiens on-ice shot eluded Linden Marshall. The Warriors scored once more in the first when Garrett Forster's wrist shot from the left circle slipped through between Marshall's arm and body.

The Warriors scored 3 straight in the 2nd period, as Paul Lovsin scored his 2nd of the year, and Kylar Hope followed up with a pair right after. Hope's 2nd was a beautiful deflection in front of the goal.

Lovsin had a great chance in the 3rd period while short-handed, but it was waved off for incidental contact with the goaltender. Initial reaction from the booth was that it might have been kicked in, but it went off the skate of the Trail defender and slid past Marshall as Lovsin was falling.

After Trail made it 5-2, the Warriors responded on the power-play when Liam Blackburn knocked in a loose puck off a scramble in the Trail crease, to increase his night total to 4 points. Blackburn would pick up an assist on Rylan Yaremko's 3rd of the year, when the birthday boy went backhand-shelf in tight to make it 7-2.

Ross Armour deflected a puck past Ploszaj to make it 7-3, before Desbiens buried on a 2 on 1 with Quin Foreman to round out the scoring.

West Kelowna's power-play went 2-5 in the hockey game, moving to 6-14 on the young season.

Game Thoughts:
The Warriors looked dominant at times in tonight's hockey game as they seemingly scored at will in the 2nd period, and just continued that in the final frame. There were some very pretty goals scored (Yaremko, Lovsin, Hope 2nd, Desbiens 2nd) and a greasy goal by Blackburn. The others were products of shots on goal, which the Rookie goaltender struggled with handling.

Defensively, the Warriors did a good job in transition tonight, not allowing too many chances. Allowing only 20 shots, the Warriors have not allowed more than 22 in a game. If you can do that every night, you're going to be tough to beat.

This was one of those hockey games where the Warriors controlled the flow of the play throughout the night. The match-up game seemed to work for the Warriors, and forced Trail to adjust their lines to try and create some offense. The 20-year-old line of Harlan Orr, Jake Kauppila, and Kurt Black did have 2 of the 3 goals, but they didn't seem to be much of a threat tonight. With Liam Blackburn on the ice against that line, the majority of the time West Kelowna controlled the puck off the draw. It will be interesting to see the faceoff numbers from Shae Naka this week, but I'd guess that West Kelowna won 70-75% of the draws.

Forbes Ploszaj wasn't busy (and that's going to be a trend I feel) and got beat by a couple that i'm sure he wants back. The deflection by Armour is a tough one, but Ploszaj followed the puck well on a couple of late opportunities that bounced around.

What's Next:
The Penticton Vees. Does anything more need to be said? After a crazy 104 penalty minute game in the pre-season, and last years playoff series, this one should definitely have some energy to it. It will be another edition of the rivalry, with Penticton having played Wednesday (Home to Vernon) and Friday (@ Surrey). Conditioning will be key, yes, but early in the year probably less of a factor.

The Warriors staff will get a chance to see the Vees on Wednesday night, and implement some strategies for the new Penticton personnel in practice Thursday and Friday before the game on Saturday.

Look for a preview Saturday by noon.

September 15th vs Trail PREVIEW

The West Kelowna Warriors return home to Royal Lepage Place tonight with a 1-1 record after a split with the Merritt Centennials on opening weekend.

Each team held serve in their own Home Opener, as the Warriors got 3 power-play goals Friday night to come back and win 6-4; then Merritt scored with 2:23 remaining Saturday night to squeak out a 5-4 victory.

The Warriors got a pair of goals from Rylan Yaremko and Brett Mennear on the opening weekend, while 6 other players scored once, including the first BCHL markers for Paul Lovsin, Jake Harrison, and Jake Tesarowski.

The Warriors would out-shoot the Centennials in both games, and out-chance them by a 46-22 margin.

The Trail Smoke Eaters split their opening series with the Vernon Vipers as well, except they won on the road in Vernon on Friday, before dropping Saturday night`s decision.

Leading the way for the Smokies was Kurt Black with a goal and three assists, while Rhett Willcox had a pair of goals Friday.

It's Rylan Yaremko's birthday, and the bruising now 19 year old from Alberta will be looking to set the tone as always.

Stats Pack
Trail – 1-1

HOME – 1-0 
ROAD – 0-1 

Top Scorers
Kurt Black (1 G, 3 A)
Rhett Willcox (2 G, 1 A)
2 other players have 2 points each

GF – 7
GA – 8

PP – 17th – 0-11 (0%)
PK – 11th – 12-14 (85.7%)
West Kelowna – 1-1

HOME – 1-0
ROAD – 0-1

Top Scorers
Brett Mennear (2 Goals)
Rylan Yaremko (2 Goals)
7 other players have 2 points each

GF – 10
GA – 9

PP – 1st - 4 for 9 (44.4%)
PK – 15th – 5-7 (71.4%)

Next Game – Saturday September 20th vs Penticton
7 PM Royal Lepage Place
Head-to-Head Lifetime – West Kelowna leads 43-14-0-6
West Kelowna is 23-4-0-5 at RLP against Trail
2014/2015 Head to Head – West Kelowna went 5-2-0-1 vs. Trail
West Kelowna went 3-0-0-1 at home against Trail last season.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Warriors 4 - Merritt 5 - September 12th

The West Kelowna Warriors dropped the 2nd game of a home and home with the Merritt Centennials allowing a late goal in the 3rd period that proved to be the winner from Nick Jermain.

Liam Blackburn got the Warriors on the board first, before Tyler Ward responded for the Centennials. Once again, it was a turnover by the Warriors that lead to the Ward goal, as he was able to beat Daniel Mannella from the slot.

Merritt would go up 2-1 early in the 2nd on the power-play, as Gavin Gould buried his 1st of the night, before the Warriors rattled off 3 straight goals.

Kristian Blumenschein scored twice, including a power-play marker and one off a face-off. Anthony Pupplo was screened on the 2nd goal, as he didn't move as the puck went past him. Brett Mennear put the Warriors up 4-2 when he went in on a 2 on 1 with Kyle Marino and snapped one home.

Jake Tesarowski would take down Colin Grannary on a breakaway, giving the Merritt forward a penalty shot at 13:02. Grannary would go to his backhand after slowly coming in on the right hand side, and slipped it through the legs of Mannella. The Centennials tied it up with a goal on a breakaway from Gould, after the Warriors d-men dove to break up the pass, slowing the puck down just enough so it ended right on Gould's stick, as he beat Mannella on the blocker side.

The game remained tied until there was 2:23 left in the 3rd period, when Jermain spun and fired after a turnover and a late reaction from Mannella allowed the game winner to go by. It was a bit of a punch in the gut for the Warriors, as they seemed destined for at least OT, if not the win. West Kelowna had control of the play for the most part, out-shooting Merritt by a 35-22 margin.

Game Thoughts:
The West Kelowna Warriors had a good 1st period tonight, with really just the one blemish on the turnover and Tyler Ward goal, but they seemed as if they were in control. When you only allow 5 shots in the period, that probably explains the way the period went.

Talking to Shae Naka before the game, the Warriors allowed just 10 scoring chances the night before, and they had 26 themselves. It's expected that once they go through the game film, the Centennials will probably have less than 10 chances in last night's hockey game as well. It was just a situation where the breakdowns turned into goals, and you need a big save or two in those situations.

West Kelowna was disciplined last night, taking only 2 minors that lead to power-plays. Merritt did get a power-play goal, so the Warriors PK was only 50%, but when you limit the number of chances for the opposition with the man advantage, things are always better.

The Warriors power-play went just 1 for 5 on the night, and at times were just too cute in the offensive zone. The one goal that was scored happened because Kristian Blumenschein shot the puck. The other power-plays, including a 5 on 3, did not see too many shots fired towards Pupplo.

What's Next:
The Warriors will practice on Monday ahead of a mid-week game against the Trail Smoke Eaters on Tuesday night. Trail got a victory against Vernon on the road Friday night, before dropping their home opener to the Vipers on Saturday. The Smoke Eaters have always had the ability to score goals, but their downfall in recent years has been goaltending. With the addition of Bailey Macburnie that could have been shored up, and the Warriors will need to test him big time on Tuesday.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

September 12th @ Merritt PREVIEW

The West Kelowna Warriors will make the 90 minute trip to Merritt tonight for the second half of a home and home with the Centennials.

Last nights game featured an early 3-0 lead for the Cents in the first, before the Warriors got a goal with 5 seconds left in the frame. At the buzzer, Ryan Forbes would go after Kyle Marino, earning 7 minutes in penalties for his troubles, and putting the Warriors on the long power-play.

The Warriors scored 3 times with the advantage, and once more just after to open a 5-3 lead out-shooting the Centennials 24-4 in the frame.

The teams traded goals in the 3rd, as the Warriors saw 6 different players score, and 3 get their first BCHL goals including Rookies Jake Harrison and Jake Tesarowski, as well as Paul Lovsin, who played in the AJHL the last two seasons.

Tonight's Keys

  • Discipline - The Warriors took the first 3 penalties of last night's game, but I felt that they were disciplined when they needed to be. For the most part, the West Kelowna players had no interest in both Gavin Gould or Nick Florentino, as they were constantly mixing it up after the whistle. If the Warriors can stay out of those scenarios, they should be alright again.
  • Special Teams - The Warriors went 3 for 6 on the power-play in last night's game, although the boxscore reads 3 for 4. The 3 goals on a 5-minute major make it so that power-play along was 3 for 4, and the Warriors didn't score on the other two. Just a glitch in the scoring system.
  • Goaltending - Daniel Mannella was strong at times for the Warriors last night, and you can't really blame him on any of the goals last night. Two off of turnovers back to back, a nice power-play goal, and one where the D-Zone coverage fell apart a bit and didn't pick up the trailer who buried the rebound.
Stat Pack

Merritt – 0-1

HOME – 0-0 
ROAD – 0-1 

Top Scorers
  • -      Henry Cleghorn (1G, 1A)
  • -      Cole Arcuri (2A)
  • -      6 others with 1 point

GF – 4
GA – 6

PP – 1 for 5 (20%)
PK – 3 for 6 (50%)
West Kelowna – 1-0

HOME – 1-0
ROAD – 0-0

Top Scorers
  • -   Jake Harrison
  • - Paul Lovsin
  • - Kyle Marino
  • - Jake Tesarowski (all 1G, 1A)
  •  Reed Gunville (2A)

GF – 6
GA – 4

PP – 3 for 6 (50%)
PK – 4 for 5 (80%)

Next Game – Tuesday, Sept 15th
Vs. Trail – 7 PM Royal Lepage Place
Head-to-Head Lifetime – West Kelowna leads 42-13-1-4
West Kelowna is 19-7-0-3 in Merritt
2014/2015 Head to Head – West Kelowna went 2-2-0-3 vs. Merritt
West Kelowna went 0-1-0-2 in Merritt in 2014/2015