After two days of practice and a morning skate, it's time for the puck to drop on the 2016 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup with a pair of games today at Affinity Place. The Portage Terriers (MJHL) take on the Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) at 2 PM local time, before your Warriors kick off the tournament at 7 PM local (6 PM West Kelowna time) against the HOST Estevan Bruins.
All the tournament action is available on Fast Hockey at www.fasthockey.com, just search Western Canada Cup. If you buy a month subscription, you'll get the rest of the Warriors games at your fingertips this season! There is also the regular audio-only broadcast at www.mixlr.com/bchlwarriors, and if you match up the video and audio, you'll have Kyle Anderson with all the play by play. Fast Hockey play by play is provided by the host committee.
The Warriors take on a team that is hungry to get things going, and to get their tournament off on the right foot in front of their home crowd. At the time of writing, over 1000 tickets had been pre-sold for the game tonight, which is right around the season and playoff average for Estevan this season. The Bruins lead the SJHL in average attendance in 2015/2016.
The Bruins are playing their first game since the end of March, when they fell in 6 games to the Nipawin Hawks. It was Braden Oleksyn who lead the way in the playoffs, finishing with eight points, including three goals. Owen LaClare had four goals and an assist as well, while Daniel Wapple went 2-4 with a 2.51 GAA and a .912 Sv%.
Looking at the regular season numbers, the Warriors will need to be wary of Darcy DeRoose, who lead the team in goals (28) and points (48). In goal, Daniel Wapple is a former WHL goaltender who played for Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat, Regina, and Vancouver over four seasons, in which he played in 134 games. With the Bruins this season, Wapple went 11-4 with a 3.14 GAA and a .901 Sv%.
On the Warriors side of things, Kylar Hope will look to continue his hot hand in the postseason, having scored 15 times in 24 playoff games, and leading the team in points with 24. Liam Blackburn (7+16) and Jonathan Desbeins (15+5) round out the Top 3 in scoring. Matthew Greenfield played 23 of the Warriors 24 playoff games, with a 14-8 record and a 2.25 GAA with a .932 Sv%. Keelan Williams picked up the victory in Game 6 of the Fred Page Cup Finals with a great performance.
Comparing Special Teams for tonights game, the Bruins were 15.9% on the man advantage in the regular season, while West Kelowna capitalized at a 24.6% success rate. The Warriors PP will look to take advantage of the 78.3% Penalty Kill % of the Bruins this season. Estevan struggled in the first round against Nipawin, allowing six goals in 24 times shorthanded. The Warriors had a 86.3% success rate on the PK, but were also shorthanded 102 times in 24 games.
Head Coach/GM Rylan Ferster has experience in these short tournaments from being part of Team Canada West and the World Junior A Challenge in the past, and mentioned today the importance of special teams. The Warriors will also need to come out flying and with intensity to try and take the crowd out of it. All players practiced this week and skated this morning, with a couple of game time decisions to be had. The Bruins are expected to come out strong having not played in a month. Expect the physicality to be there from the puck drop.
Pre-Game show starts 20 minutes prior to puck drop tonight, 5:40 West Kelowna time. Kelly O'Bryan's is the place to watch the games so head on down and catch the action. It's going to be a fun week!