The West Kelowna Warriors and Brooks Bandits will meet tonight for the Western Canada Cup Championship, and the first berth in the Royal Bank Cup in what is probably the most anticipated rematch from the round robin.
Last Sunday, it was the Bandits who skated away with a 4-2 victory in the game that had people talking even four days later. West Kelowna had a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes in that game, and had 14 opportunities on the man advantage but only scored once. The game was marred by three separate goaltender interference penalties against the Bandits, including one major, which in turn, knocked Matthew Greenfield out of the tournament to this point. He remains day-to-day. Further to those incidents, Kyle Marino and Bandits goaltender Garrett Hughson mixed it up with 10 seconds left, which included a fight where not many punches were landed as Marino was tied up immediately by the linesman.
Looking at tonight's game, don't expect the 14 power-play opportunities for the Warriors once again, however it will be a very physical hockey game and will be interesting to see how it gets called early. Rylan Ferster made some great points on Thursday and to Castanet on how the Warriors players have not forgotten what happened last Sunday, and that everyone around the tournament knows what happened. Ferster mentioned that they need to focus on winning and not on settling any scores.
Keelan Williams will get the start in goal once again and he's been good, thrown into the fire so to speak against the Portage Terriers, Williams is 2-0 with a 1.47 GAA and a .939 SV% after the OT win against Portage and the victory over the Melfort Mustangs. On the flip side, Hughson was named the tournaments Top Goaltender last night at the Awards Banquet, and sports a 3-0 record and a 1.67 GAA and .938 SV%. It could very easily be a goaltenders duel tonight.
Brett Mennear and Ty Mappin (Brooks) tied for the tournaments top scorer award, while the tournaments Top Forward was Jeff Mallott (Brooks) so there's a lot of recognized talent in this one tonight. Mennear, Mallott, Cale Makar on defense, and Hughson were also tournament all-stars.
The Bandits PP heated up late in the WCC, scoring 4 times against the Portage Terriers to up their percentage to 28.6% to lead the tournament. West Kelowna is 3 for 26 (11.5%) on the man advantage. Both teams penalty kills are 24 for 25 and lead the tournament at 96%.
With a trophy on the line, and an extra days rest leading into the Royal Bank Cup, expect tonight's battle to have the intensity of a Game 7. While there is another chance waiting Sunday for the loser, nobody on either team wants to play in that RBC Qualifier game approximately 18 hours after losing the WCC Title Game. Tonight should be one hell of a game.
Listen Live at www.mixlr.com/bchlwarriors, or visit Kelly O'Bryan's in West Kelowna to watch it on the big screen. Visit www.fasthockey.com to watch the game if you can't make it to Kelly O's!