Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Wrapping it up

It's hard to decide what exactly to write about on a season-ending posting, especially when you're just another team eliminated in the 1st round. There were so many story lines that played out throughout this season, perhaps a record number of players donning the Warriors jersey (including AP's), and a goaltender injury bug never before seen at the Junior A level.

I could talk about how this season was disappointing and ended to soon, which it did. Every team wants to win their last game of the playoffs but only will get to do that, in Portage la Prairie, MB, on May 17th. Junior Hockey is such a tough sport, there is only one season every year, and the number of teams across the country make the journey just that much harder.

After the last 5 games against the Vees, its hard to even reflect on the regular season because you want to talk about how great the first 4 games of the series were, essentially all in OT, as the 4th game won in the final 3 minutes. It had that feeling that eventually the Warriors were bound to get a bounce and tie the series up, or even could have lead 2-0 or 2-1 in the series as well. It just wasn't meant to be.

Each and every guy that pulled on the Warriors sweater this year played his heart out when they were in the lineup. Every player had a role to play and didn't give up, especially in that final stretch to make the playoffs. Did West Kelowna have any business playing for the playoffs into the final weekend after Affiliate goaltenders made 11 starts? Absolutely they did because the way that Stephen Heslop played in the playoffs was typical to the way he played in the regular season. He gave the Warriors a chance to win every single night, going 2-2-0-2 in the regular season, and 0-2-0-1 in the playoffs. Those don't look like fabulous numbers, but getting the Warriors to overtime in some of those games was an accomplishment in itself. If anyone said to me that the Warriors would need to win their last 5 games, and 4 of them without 3 of their 20 year old players including the starting goalie and captain, and your leading scorer, I'd say there was no chance. The difference is these kids believed there was. Scott Patton played solid and everyone stepped up offensively to get into the post-season, even if we needed a little help from our rivals.

When looking back at the regular season as a whole, it's tough to single out any specific moments. There was an 11-game streak of getting at least a single point from late October - Mid November, then there was a streak of games where the Warriors used 5 different AP goaltenders in games, which ended up netting them 5 wins and 7 losses, including the first BCHL Shutouts for 2 of them in Stephen Heslop and Jordan Reynolds.

The final record of 29-21-0-8 for 66 points is the 7th best point total for the club since they came into the league in 2006/2007. There were other milestones though, and personal/franchise bests achieved this season.

Jason Cotton: 

  • Fastest Player to 100 points as a Warrior, he did it in 87 Games.
  • Moved into #8 All-Time in Warriors scoring.
  • Scored his 50th BCHL goal for the Warriors, 7th player to score 50 in WK jersey.

Liam Blackburn: 

  • Warriors Single Season leader in assists with 51
  • 4th Best Single Season with 73 Points
  • Moved into #9 All-time in Warriors scoring

Jordan Masters:

  • Moved into #24 All-time in Warriors scoring, 71 points in 72 games.
Andrew Johnson
  • Played his 300th Junior Hockey game, finished with 309 Career games between WHL and WK.
There is more to this game than winning, especially where we fit in at the Junior hockey level, and the Warriors once again were successful on the schooling front, having multiple players commit to NCAA hockey.

NCAA Commitments:
Liam Blackburn - University of New Hampshire
Jordan Masters - Arizona State University
Jonathan Desbiens - Bentley University
Brett Mennear - Bentley University

Jason Cotton will begin his NCAA career at Northeastern next season.

Final Words:
The players on this team were always fun to be around, the jokes on the bus, shutting down Tiggs on his countless requests for Gran Torino are definite memories. You'll never have the same group ever again, that's kind of weird, but its junior hockey. To the 20's - Andy, Jordan, Andrew, Tyler, Braeden, and Bennett; good luck with your future, and never hesitate to stay in contact. I'll always have room for an intermission interview.

There are so many people in this organization to thank and I really hope that I will have an opportunity to be back next year and improve on the broadcasts, increase the player interviews, and give more insights on the blog.
From the top I need to thank Mark Cheyne for giving me this opportunity, and thank him for his love of Junior Hockey as he continues as the owner of the West Kelowna Warriors.

Thank you to Rylan Ferster, Brent Gough, and Mike Bois for making road trips fun. It never felt like work and I immediately felt like I fit in.

To the office and game day staff you are what makes it easy to come to the rink knowing that everything outside of the broadcast will be taken care of. Sure it wasn't my job to worry about the events/game day ops side of things, but I was told for 4 years at school to always care. Kim Potter, Alex Draper, Steve Francis, Wayne Moore, Kris Patzer. The ones you see doing everything all the time. AND Nicole Ellis, she'd do anything for this hockey club and always made sure I got some more water if I asked. 

Sheldon and Cheryl Bank were always fun to have up in the booth, doing the boxscores and the stats as well. Sheldon always made sure I had good things to say about the officiating.  Jason Woodford and your team, you guys were excellent. I was told that you guys do fabulous work and you proved it every single night. Thank you Crosswood Productions.

Thanks to WDCR for hosting all of our games on the internet and 95.1 FM. It was good to have an alternative listening method for fans who didn't wish to pay to watch the games on Fast Hockey.

To the volunteers, you are the glue that holds everything together. Every one of you that I had the opportunity of meeting with and talking to, it was a pleasure. Thanks for being there, see you next season.

Finally the fans. You were amazing in the playoffs and great throughout the season. I don't know if its the way the building is built, or how my microphone picked up the sound, but that is one of the loudest buildings in the BCHL when you all get going. I'm going to miss that all summer, and hope i'm back to hear it again. Who knows, maybe we'll fill it up one day.

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