Saturday 7 May 2016

WCC Championship Game PREVIEW

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, or visit Kelly O'Bryan's in West Kelowna to watch it on the big screen. Visit to watch the game if you can't make it to Kelly O's!

Wednesday 4 May 2016


When the West Kelowna Warriors take the ice on Thursday afternoon against the Melfort Mustangs, the math is simple: Win, and you play the Brooks Bandits for the Western Canada Cup on Saturday night. Lose, and you'll be the road team on Saturday afternoon against the Mustangs once again.

With tonight's 9-3 loss to the Bandits, the Portage Terriers are hovering between 2nd and 3rd place in the five-team round robin, and will be watching Thursday's afternoon game closely to see which game they'll play in on Saturday. Brooks is locked in first place with 9 points and one game to come against winless Estevan on Thursday night.

West Kelowna sits at 2-1 in the tournament and 5 points on the 3-points/game system after an overtime win on Tuesday against the Portage Terriers. Jonathan Desbiens played the hero in overtime, after Bryan Basilico scored a pair on the power play in the first period. Keelan Williams earned the game MVP after making some huge saves throughout the game including a big toe save with just a second remaining. Williams started after Matthew Greenfield was injured in the game Sunday vs. Brooks. He's listed as Day-to-Day.

Looking at the Mustangs (1-2), they are lead by the top line of Travis Mayan, Tristan Frei, and Juston Boyer, who combined to total of 104 goals and 134 assists in the regular season, and another 26 goals and 36 points in the SJHL playoffs. It would be an understatement to say that the Mustangs rely on their top line, as they accounted for 45.8% of the teams goals int he regular season, and 41.3% in the post-season. Shutting down those three will be the number one key to the Warriors game on Thursday.

In goal, its Richard Palmer who will more than likely get the start, and he's been solid as well. Palmer went 29-9 in the regular season with a 2.92 GAA and a .904 SV%, but only played in 3 postseason games due to injury. He went 3-0, allowing just four goals in those games, and has allowed just  6 goals in three tournament games.

The Melfort Mustangs have had decent Special Teams in the WCC and on the season, as the Mustangs have the second best WCC PP (2 for 11), and the third best PK (15 for 16). The Warriors sit third in PP (3 for 18) and second in PK (19 for 20).

Puck drops at 2:00 PM local time so tune in at 12:40 in BC for the pregame show at or head on down to Kelly O'Bryan's to catch all the action. The playoff picture will be set once the game ends, so you don't want to miss this one!

Monday 2 May 2016

WCC Game 3 vs Portage PREVIEW

The West Kelowna Warriors take on the Portage Terriers on Tuesday afternoon in their third matchup of the 2016 Western Canada Cup.

The Warriors are coming off a loss to the Brooks Bandits on Sunday by a 4-2 score, while the Terriers are 2-0 after a 2-1 win over Melfort and a 3-2 win over the Estevan Bruins. A win for the Terriers would lock up a berth in the 1-2 game on Saturday night for the WCC Championship.

The Terriers are the defending National Champions as they hosted the RBC last year. They did qualify out of the WCC as the West #2 seed, beating Melfort in the RBC Qualifier game. The Mustangs also advanced to RBC since Portage was the host.

Portage is lead by twins Brad and Shawn Bowles, who both had great years in the MJHL averaging 1.7 points per game. Brad is the goal scorer, as he put in 45 in 60 games, while Shawn scored 19 in 39 games. Brad finished with 102 points.

In goal, Nathan Park had great numbers this season going 38-7 with 1.92 GAA and a .922 SV%, as the Terriers finished the season at 52-6-2.

Special Teams wise, the Terriers were 57/232 on the man advantage (24.6%) which is the same % as the Warriors had in the regular season. Portage went 11/55 in the postseason, and is currently 2/11 in the WCC. Portage had the best PK of all WCC teams in the regular season only allowing 27 power-play goals against for an 88.8% clip.

West Kelowna knows that they'll need to get their power play working in order to have success, as they enter Tuesday's game having gone 1/15 on the man advantage. The penalty kill has been good though going 15/16.

Don't expect Tuesday afternoon's tilt to have the amount of power plays as the Brooks game did, but again anything can happen in a tournament like this, as we saw on Sunday afternoon. It was clear that the two teams didn't like each other on Sunday, but West Kelowna probably would have had a lot less power play opportunities if they had capitalized on a couple more chances in the first half of the game.

Tune in to the action starting with the 12:40 BC time pre-game show at while puck drops at 2 PM.

Sunday 1 May 2016

WCC Game 2 vs Brooks PREVIEW

It seems like the Warriors just left the rink after Game 1 of the Western Canada Cup and they're already back (okay so thats kinda true because this is being written early morning on Sunday). It's the toughest turn-around in the entire Western Canada Cup for any team, but its not like the Warriors have done anything the easy way all postseason long, so why start now.

The AJHL Champion Brooks Bandits will pose a big test for West Kelowna this afternoon, as they look to set their tournament off on the right foot, while the Warriors are looking to move to 2-0. The Bandits were the lone team off on Saturday night, and much like the Estevan Bruins, will look to bring energy to the start of the hockey game.

Unlike the Bruins however, it's only been nine days since they last played, when they knocked off Spruce Grove in Game 5 to win the Gas Drive Cup. Brooks went 12-1 in the postseason with a pair of sweeps, before dropping just one game to the Saints in the finals.

The Bandits pose a balanced attack, with a team that averaged over five goals a game en route to a 49-9-2 record on the season, which happened to have them finish BEHIND Spruce Grove at 49-7-4. Brooks has just one 30-goal scorer in Jared Cockrell, but have 13 players that had 40 or more points this season. Cockrell, Landon Welykholowa, and Josh McKechney all had 11 PP goals on the season.

Since we're talking special teams, the numbers were flattering for the Bandits as well as they had 341 man advantages this season (5.7/gm) and scored 78 goals while a man up. In comparison, the Warriors scored 67 PP goals, but in just 272 opportunities (4.7/game). In the postseason, its the Brooks PK that jumps out, killing at a 93.1% efficiency having allowed just four power-play goals against in 13 games.

You can't have a good PK without good goaltending and the Bandits have that as well with Garrett Hughson. A 1.10 GAA and a .957 SV% in the playoffs are gawdy numbers, but he was stellar down the stretch in the regular season too with a 14-3 record, 2.23 GAA, and a .918 SV%. Today's game might be 2-1 or 1-0.

There is one somewhat familiar face on the Brooks side, as former Vernon Viper and Salmon Arm Silverback Logan Mick plays for the Bandits.

Puck drop for this one goes at 1 PM (BC time) and is available on the screens at Kelly O'Bryan's, as well as with subscription, just search Western Canada Cup.

All the audio-only broadcast issues we had last night should be fixed, so you can also tune in there at

Saturday 30 April 2016

WCC Game 1 Recap

It was a great start to the Western Canada Cup tournament for the West Kelowna Warriors as they opened up with a 3-0 victory over the host Estevan Bruins on Saturday night at Affinity Place.

There was a good quick opening ceremony prior to tonight's game, with all the teams on the ice and a couple of very short speeches that lead to puck drop around 7:07 after the ceremonial face-off.

An interesting rule didn't catch the Warriors on this opening day, but there were five warm-up violations handed out on Saturday, for players who touched the red line with their skate during the pre-game warmup. Melfort (3), Portage, and Estevan were all caught on opening day and received 10-minute misconducts to start the game. I don't expect it to be an issue moving forward, but Brooks has yet to play so tomorrow afternoon may be interesting.

Kyle Marino set the tone on the first shift, hammering Darcy DeRoose and getting the Warriors bench into the game. There was definite physical play in the opening period, but it didn't feel like anything more than normal. The Bruins didn't seem like they were rusty in the opening ten minutes, but there were moments throughout the game where you could tell they weren't on their game having not played in over a month.

Matthew Greenfield was back in between the pipes for the Warriors and he was sharp early on, making a couple nice saves including a big glove save before the media time out. He would make 12 saves in the frame as it ended up 0-0. The Warriors out-shot the Bruins 13-12.

West Kelowna would get on the board in the first five minutes of the second period, as the fourth line got into the act, as Prince Albert, Saskatchewan's Reed Gunville got the Warriors on the board going upstairs on Daniel Wapple to make it 1-0. 

Just 1:03 later, Nick Rutigliano would get the puck towards the goal, while Brett Mennear went to his backhand to beat Wapple and make it 2-0.

West Kelowna would start to get into penalty trouble after going up a pair of goals, taking their fourth and fifth minors of the game. The PK was solid though and killed them off, and wouldn't get to take the third period off either.

Mennear scored his second of the night with a beautiful deflection between the circles, slowing the puck up and beating Wapple as he slid to his left to stop the point shot. For the second time on the night, Rutigliano and Jonathan Desbiens would grab the assists on a Mennear goal.

The Warriors finished the game shorthanded after Matthew Greenfield got jumped on with Rylan Yaremko getting involved and taking four minutes in penalties as the Bruins escaped somehow with nothing. Garrett Forster was given a 10-minute misconduct late for going after Lynnden Pastachak for a potentially dangerous hit as Forster avoided contact with the knee of Pastachak. 

The Warriors PK finished 9/9, while the PP went 0/2.

Game Thoughts:
  • It was a Bentley Falcon night as the three Warrior commits to the Falcons combined for six points on the two Brett Mennear goals as Nick Rutigliano and Jonathan Desbiens picked up the assists. Once again, Rutigliano had a solid night on the back end, and I think the entire defense deserves a pat on the back. There were shot blocks and box outs and rebounds cleared throughout the night that they need to be commended for. 
  • Overall it was a team effort, and a solid win to start the tournament. While I don't think the Warriors were clicking on all cylinders, they got production and good chances from up and down the lineup, and came together on the defensive side of the puck to get in lanes. When things did break down, Matthew Greenfield was there and was solid.
  • Special Teams were good, but what is with the discrepancy in the numbers? It's nothing new to West Kelowna (25-15 vs Penticton), but to be shorthanded nine times in a game while only getting two power plays seems off. We'll see what happens against Brooks and hopefully it balances out over the course of the week.
  • The Warriors are the only team all week that will experience the quick turn-around between games, playing an afternoon game after a night game. The Brooks Bandits are the opponents Sunday at 2:00 PM Local (1 PM in BC) and they had Saturday off so it presents a unique challenge to West Kelowna. Should be fun to watch.
You can listen live at or watch at Kelly O'Bryan's or on

The internet issues that plagued the audio-only broadcast should be 100% FIXED Sunday, and all goal highlights should be up on Facebook/Twitter soon after they happen as has been done the latter half of the season. Give WIN another shot, we've got the solution working with the organizing committee here in Estevan. 

WCC Game 1 vs Estevan

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, 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, 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.

Game Preview:
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!

Friday 29 April 2016

Western Canada Cup PREVIEW

It's been six days since the West Kelowna Warriors captured their first ever Fred Page Cup as BCHL Championship, and it's been a busy stretch of time for the hockey club. It all started on Monday night as over 200 Warriors fans came out to the Royal LePage Place courtyard and honoured the BCHL Champs with loud cheers and some great eats, and got their chance at a meet and greet and grabbing autographs from all the players.

After a practice on Tuesday, the boys loaded up the bus (basically as full as it could be loaded) for the 1500+ kilometre trek to Estevan, Saskatchewan. After an overnight stop in Medicine Hat on Wednesday night, the Warriors arrived at their hotel around 4:30 PM and began to settle in. A bus-legs skate got the Warriors back on the ice at the secondary sheet at Affinity Place.

The Warriors first official practice took place Today at 1:00 pm, as the full team hit the ice for an up-tempo practice. It was good to see the boys on the Affinity Place ice, although conditions were apparently a little rough. Talking with a member of the host organization, staff from the Brandt Centre in Regina and Rexall Place in Edmonton will be in Estevan tonight to manage the ice for the entire week of the Western Canada Cup.

The entire staff here in Estevan has been phenomenal from the moment we checked in to the hotel, to all the times we've been at the rink as well. We had to apologize though earlier today for causing the rink staff a little more work at the end of practice. 

So now that we've gotten what we've been up to out of the way, it's time to start looking at what's ahead. West Kelowna will open up their tournament against the host Estevan Bruins, who have not played a game since March 27th when they dropped Game 6 to the Nipawin Hawks. The Battle Cries Blog will have Game Day Previews and Post-Game Recaps for each and every game. First though, is the overall Preview of the event including a breakdown here of some different stats and how they got here.

Team Records - W/L/OTL/SOL:
Brooks Bandits (AJHL) - 49-9-2-0 (1st overall AJHL)
Estevan Bruins (HOST) - 36-17-3-2 (2nd Sherwood Division, 4th overall SJHL)
Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) - 39-14-3-2 (1st Sherwood Division, 2nd overall SJHL)
Portage Terriers (MJHL) - 52-6-2 (1st overall MJHL)
West Kelowna (BCHL) - 38-17-2 + 1 tie (2nd Interior Division, 3rd overall BCHL)

Playoff Series
Brooks Bandits
First Round Bye
Win over Canmore 4-0
Win over Camrose 4-0
Win over Spruce Grove 4-1 (AJHL GAS DRIVE CUP CHAMPIONS)

Estevan Bruins
Lost to Nipawin 4-2

Melfort Mustangs
Win over La Ronge 4-0
Win over Nipawin 4-3

Portage Terriers
Win over Selkirk 4-0
Win over Winnipeg 4-0
Win over Steinbach 4-1 (MJHL TURNBULL CUP CHAMPIONS)

West Kelowna Warriors
Win over Salmon Arm 4-2
Win over Penticton 4-2
3-3 Record in 3rd round double round-robin, advanced to League Final
Win over Chilliwack 4-2 (BCHL FRED PAGE CUP CHAMPIONS)

Roster Breakdown:
There are a few interesting stats to look at when it comes to breaking down team rosters. Here is a look at the Average Age, Height, and Weight of the teams in the tournament. Keep in mind that Saskatchewan and Manitoba are allowed to have 9 players born in 1995 in their lineups.

BROOKS 18.96


BROOKS 182.7

NOTES: Height is in Inches, Weight in pounds. Height/Weight includes all skaters on WCC roster. Age includes all players on roster current age, divided by number of players. The Warriors top the Height and Weight category, and are the third-oldest team in the tournament, despite being only allowed to have six 20-year-old players on their roster.


West Kelowna


West Kelowna

The Warriors enter the tournament with the best Postseason power play, and the second-ranked penalty kill. 

How to follow:
All the Warriors games will be broadcast on WIN at, starting with the pre-game show 20 minutes prior to puck drop. For tomorrow night, that's 6:40 local time, or 5:40 back in West Kelowna.
All the games of the tournament are also broadcast on Fast Hockey, but commentary will be provided by the local committee, and not by Kyle Anderson. Your best bet if you're watching, is to have the game on Fast Hockey, and the Audio from WIN, and hope that the delay isn't too bad, or that viewers can sync them together.

Check back tomorrow for the Game 1 Preview.