The Warriors, who have knocked off Vernon, Victoria, and Salmon Arm twice earned themselves an honourable mention in this weeks CJHL Rankings after beating the #18 ranked Silverbacks last week. In fact, the Warriors have played 7 games against ranked teams during their time in the Top 20, including wins over Cowichan Valley, Wenatchee, and Salmon Arm. The Warriors have also played 3 times against Penticton, who now hold the top spot thanks to their 18-game winning streak.
Turning attention to the task at hand tonight, the Warriors will be looking to avenge the 9-1 defeat they had at the hands of the Centennials on September 30th in the Nicola Valley. West Kelowna regrouped after that and had a solid month of October, where they went 7-2-0-2. There are a couple new faces in the Warriors lineup since that last meeting, but the pride of the locker room should be on display early.
Discussing the keys of the game tonight, there's one astonishing number that stands out, and it's the penalty kill % of the Centennials. Merritt has struggled this year short handed, allowing 38 power-play goals against. That's over 51% of goals allowed happening when Merritt is down a man. The 58.7% penalty kill is last in the BCHL, whereas the 92 times short handed is the 7th most in the BCHL. West Kelowna is now 4th in times shorthanded, having 18 penalty kills this past weekend, so creating power play opportunities will be one of the keys.
Kristian Blumenschein should return on the blueline for the Warriors tonight, while Rylan Yaremko will serve a one-game suspension for receiving his 2nd Instigator penalty this season. The Warriors are hopeful that Blumenschein will be able to play a regular shift in his 2nd attempt to return to the lineup.
Puck Drops at 7:00 pm, if you can't make the game, tune in on www.mixlr.com/bchlwarriors with the pre-game at 6:40. We'll have Captain's Corner with Kyle Marino and the October highlight package during the intermissions tonight.
Merritt – 6-13-0-1
HOME – 4-6-0-1
ROAD – 2-7-0-0
Zak Bowles (10 G, 12 A)
Colin Grannary (11 G, 10 A)
Gavin Gould (8 G, 10 A)
GF – 51
GA – 74
PP – 6th – 20 for 102 (22.6%)
PK – 17th – 54 for 92 (58.7%)
West Kelowna – 11-5-0-2
HOME – 8-2-0-1
ROAD – 3-3-0-1
Liam Blackburn (10 G, 15 A)
Jonathan Desbiens (11 G, 10 A)
Garrett Forster (8 G, 9 A)
GF – 63
GA – 55
PP – 3rd – 19 for 72 (26.4%)
PK – 7th – 80 for 97 (82.5%)
Next Game – Sunday November 8th – vs. Nanaimo – 2:30 PM RLP
Head-to-Head Lifetime – West Kelowna is 43-15-1-4 vs Merritt All-Time
Warriors are 24-6-1-1 against Merritt at Home
This Season Head to Head: Warriors are 1-2.
September 11th – West Kelowna Wins 6-4 in West Kelowna
September 12th – Merritt wins 5-4 in Merritt
September 30th – Merritt wins 9-1 in Merritt