Monday, 29 February 2016

Season Recap

Well the BCHL Regular Season has come to a close. It has featured 986 games, and exactly 3400 goals on 32,756 shots. There was drama up until the final day, as the Alberni Valley Bulldogs squeaked out an overtime victory over the Powell River Kings to pick up the fourth spot in the Island Division playoffs. The celebration started for the Bulldogs fans as the game headed to overtime, as just a single point was needed to get in.

On Saturday, the Vernon Vipers gave up an early goal but rebounded to qualify for the playoffs with a big 7-2 win over Trail. You have to feel for the Merritt Centennials as well, as they won their last three games, including wins over Penticton and Wenatchee, but fell one win short of making the post-season. They were tied with Vernon in points, but the tie-breaker of total wins had them just miss out.

The playoff match-ups are now set as follows:
#1 Penticton vs. #4 Vernon
#2 West Kelowna vs. #3 Salmon Arm
#1 Nanaimo vs. #4 Alberni Valley
#2 Powell River vs. #3 Cowichan Valley
#1 Chilliwack vs. #4 Coquitlam
#2 Wenatchee vs. #3 Langley

So with all the league details set out for you up top, let's take a look at the regular season for the West Kelowna Warriors.

West Kelowna finishes in second place in the Interior Division for the fourth time in their 10-year history, with Penticton being #1 in each of the previous three seasons. This years record of 38-17-1-2 equals a winning % of .681, which is the second-best winning percentage in Warriors history, just shy of the .692 winning % from 2007/2008, where the Warriors went 40-17-0-3 in a 60-game schedule. This is the highest % in a 56/58 game schedule.

The Warriors finish the BCHL Regular Season ranked third on the power-play at 24.6%, while the penalty kill finishes fourth, with an 83.2% efficiency.  While the power play held steady throughout the year, kudos to the PK unit who was ranked as low as 12th at one point this season.

100 BCHL Games: Jonathan Desbiens, Kyle Marino, Rylan Yaremko, Nick Rutigliano
150 BCHL Games: Liam Blackburn, Kylar Hope, Brett Mennear
200 BCHL Games:  Garrett Forster
100 BCHL Points: Kylar Hope, Jonathan Desbiens
150 BCHL Points: Liam Blackburn
50 BCHL Goals: Jonathan Desbiens, Liam Blackburn
100 BCHL Assists: Liam Blackburn

Warriors All-Time Points List:
2nd - Liam Blackburn - 190 Points
6th - Jonathan Desbiens - 137 Points
14th - Kylar Hope - 107 Points
23rd - Brett Mennear - 80 Points
32nd - Kristian Blumenschein - 63 Points
39th - Garrett Forster - 54 Points (174 Points in 246 Career BCHL Games)
43rd - Kyle Marino - 51 Points
44th - Rylan Yaremko - 51 Points

Friday, 26 February 2016

February 26th vs Salmon Arm PREVIEW

The West Kelowna Warriors and Salmon Arm Silverbacks will be seeing a lot of each other over the next 17 days, as these two first round combatants finish off their season series tonight. The Silverbacks will play again Saturday, but this is the 58th and final game of the regular season for the Warriors.

With the playoffs just around the corner, the Warriors have put up a solid mark in the month of February, going 7-1. An Anti-Bullying week sweep of the Vernon Vipers has given the Warriors home-ice in the opening round against the Silverbacks starting on March 4th in West Kelowna.

One storyline to watch for tonight is that of Jonathan Desbiens, who sits at 83 points on the year, two shy of tying Trevor Bailey for the single-season Warriors record in points. Desbiens will have had two extra games to do it in, however its still a very impressive feat if he can accomplish it. Whether its broken or not, it has been a great regular season for Desbiens.

It will be a fun night during the game, and afterwards as well as the Warriors hand out their awards on-ice right after the final buzzer. After those are handed out, the focus shifts to next Friday, and Game 1 vs Salmon Arm in the first round of the playoffs. Buckle Up.

Stats Pack:

Salmon Arm – 29-18-4-5

HOME- 15-6-3-4
ROAD – 14-12-1-1

Top Scorers
Taro Hirose (15 G, 56 A)
Carson Bolduc (22 G, 34 A)
Ross Heidt (33 G, 20 A)

GF – 225
GA - 173

PP – 4th – 58 for 260 (22.3%)
PK – 7th – 224 for 276 (81.2%)

West Kelowna – 37-17-1-2

HOME – 19-7-1-1
ROAD – 18-10-0-1

Top Scorers
Jonathan Desbiens (44 G, 39 A)
Kylar Hope (27 G, 45 A)
Liam Blackburn (25 G, 45 A)

GF - 236
GA – 179

PP – 3rd – 64 for 265 (24.2%)
PK – 5th – 238 for 286 (83.2%)

Next Game – Playoffs Game 1
Friday March 4th  vs Salmon Arm
7 PM Royal LePage Place

Head-to-Head Lifetime – West Kelowna is 34-22-1-8 All-Time vs Salmon Arm
The Warriors are 17-10-1-2 All-Time vs. the Silverbacks at Home

West Kelowna is 4-2 this season vs. Salmon Arm

Friday, 19 February 2016

Feb 19th vs Vernon PREVIEW

The West Kelowna Warriors take on the Vernon Vipers for the final time this season tonight at Royal LePage Place. This is also the third meeting of the week between the two interior division foes, with the Warriors winning 4-1 and 6-4.

Jonathan Desbiens set the Single-Season Goals mark for the West Kelowna Warriors with an empty netter on Wednesday, his 42nd of the season. Desbiens is six points back of the single-season points mark also set by Trevor Bailey in the 2009/2010 season.

The Vipers will see one lineup change tonight, as Jagger Williamson draws back into the lineup, as Charley Michalowski will not dress tonight.

Lane Gilliss will be the lone scratch for the Warriors, as Andrew Shortridge and Matthew Greenfield go head to head between the pipes.

Stats Pack

Vernon – 22-28-0-3

HOME – 12-12-0-2
ROAD – 10-16-0-1

Top Scorers
Odeen Tufto (22 G, 37 A)
Liam Finlay (14 G, 27 A)
Bo Pellah (2 G, 32 A)

GF – 164
GA – 184

PP – 5th – 54 for 254 (21.3%)
PK – 12th – 187 for 241 (77.6%)

West Kelowna – 36-17-1-2

HOME – 18-7-1-1
ROAD – 18-10-0-1

Top Scorers
Jonathan Desbiens (42 G, 37 A)
Kylar Hope (26 G, 44 A)
Liam Blackburn (25 G, 43 A)

GF - 231
GA – 175

PP – 3rd – 62 for 262 (23.7%)
PK – 5th – 237 for 284 (83.5%)

Next Game – Friday February 26th
Vs. Salmon Arm – 7 PM RLP

Head-to-Head Lifetime – West Kelowna is 33-25-2-6 All-Time vs Vernon
Warriors are 21-9-0-2 All-Time vs. the Vipers at home

West Kelowna is 5-1 this season vs. Vernon.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

February 17th @ Vernon PREVIEW

The West Kelowna Warriors visit the Vernon Vipers this morning at 11 AM from Kal Tire Place, for the second half of the home and home for Anti-Bullying Awareness.

The Warriors picked up the win on Tuesday, scoring four times in the third period including two empty netters. Fireworks were sparked after the empty net goals, so it will be interesting to see what comes of it during today's game.

Jonathan Desbiens sits just one goal away from passing Trevor Bailey for the single-season mark in goals scored, with his 41st coming on Tuesday. His 76 points is also tied for second with Alex Grieve for the best single-season points total. The leader Bailey, has 85.

These two teams will meet for a third straight game on Friday at Royal LePage Place.

Listen live to the game with Kyle Anderson at

Stats Pack:

Vernon – 22-27-0-3

HOME – 12-12-0-2
ROAD – 10-15-0-1

Top Scorers
Odeen Tufto (21 G, 37 A)
Liam Finlay (14 G, 26 A)
Bo Pellah (2 G, 31 A)

GF – 160
GA – 178

PP – 5th – 54 for 250 (21.7%)
PK – 12th – 184 for 236 (78.0%)

West Kelowna – 34-17-1-2

HOME – 18-7-1-1
ROAD – 17-10-0-1

Top Scorers
Jonathan Desbiens (41 G, 35 A)
Liam Blackburn (25 G, 43 A)
Kylar Hope (25 G, 43 A)

GF - 225
GA – 171

PP – 3rd – 60 for 256 (23.4%)
PK – 5th – 242 for 279 (83.1%)

Next Game – Friday February 19th
Vs. Vernon – 7 PM RLP

Head-to-Head Lifetime – West Kelowna is 32-25-2-6 All-Time vs Vernon
Warriors are 11-16-2-4 All-Time vs. the Vipers at Kal Tire Place

West Kelowna is 4-1 this season vs. Vernon.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Warriors 4 - Vernon 1 RECAP

The West Kelowna Warriors knocked off the Vernon Vipers on Tuesday with a 4-1 victory in front of around 1700 fans at Royal LePage Place, including 1200+ school students for the Anti-Bullying Awareness game.

It was the Vipers who came out strong in the opening frame, firing shots on Matthew Greenfield early. It was a wrister from Brett Stapley that caught Greenfield awkwardly over seven minutes in, and while Greenfield thought he had it, Ben Butcher pushed it over the line.

A very physically played first period lead to a couple of penalties, but neither team could score on their man advantage. The Warriors took themselves off the power play twice in the hockey game with undisciplined penalties.

The Warriors out-shot Vernon by a 20-8 margin in the second period, but were unable to beat Andrew Shortridge, who made the solid saves when he needed to. On top of that, West Kelowna struggled to hit the net, putting the puck over the goal on at least five different occasions.

The game's momentum starting swinging early in the third period as Jonathan Desbiens buried a rebound after an awkward fall into the side boards. It was Desbiens' 41st of the season, and came with the Warriors on a carried-over power play from the middle frame.

West Kelowna shut it down defensively in the final frame, and it was the line of Quin Foreman, Jared Marino, and Reed Gunville who gave the Warriors the lead. After Foreman had a great chance at the side of the goal and hit the cross-bar, a loose puck popped out in front to Gunville, as his shot eluded Shortridge to give West Kelowna the lead.

With the net empty in the final minute, Scott Allan's clearing attempt looked destined for icing, but some wicked backspin (if that is possible with a puck) had it sit dead just past the blueline as Garrett Forster made it 3-1 into the empty goal.

After the goal went in, Brett Mennear took a high-stick to the face from Latrell Charleson, which set off Kyle Marino. Nothing major came of the scrum, but the Warriors were short-handed for a brief moment during the stoppage. A bench minor to the Vipers for their disagreement with the call evened things back up.

The second empty net goal also caused fireworks. After Quin Foreman took a two-handed slash from Bo Pellah and still put the puck into the yawning cage, it was Gunville who flipped the puck back towards the goal and hit Pellah with it. With Pellah writhing on the ice in pain, Ben Butcher wanted to even the score with Gunville, but nothing major came out of the scrum. Gunville took two for unsportsmanlike and a 10 minute misconduct for his actions.

Game Thoughts:

  • The atmosphere at RLP today was electric to say the least. Hopefully the fans other than the children there for Anti-Bullying Awareness had earplugs because it was that loud at times. It was definitely great to see all the schools enjoying the game, and hopefully they convince their parents to return to Warriors games in the near future.
  • As for the game itself, credit the Vernon Vipers for their start, as they were forcing the Warriors into mistakes all over the ice in the first 10 minutes. Matthew Greenfield had to be sharp, and I don't fault him for the one goal that goes in. We've seen Greenfield get stung a couple times by the hard high one, and Butcher's marker was no exception, as he basically had an open net tap-in.
  • It was good to see the response from the Warriors in the middle frame, although they didn't score, it was a good chunk of rubber towards Andrew Shortridge in the Vipers net. There were a couple of great chances in tight for the Warriors as well, but Jonathan Desbiens missed the net, and Bryan Basilico couldn't get a deflection to go.
  • The third period was a solid frame from West Kelowna, as the power play finally clicked, as Desbiens tied up Bailey at #42. The fourth line was the important line for the Warriors in the game, as they matched up throughout the day against the Charley Michalowski line for the Vipers. Reed Gunville was rewarded with what ended up being the game winner.
  • With a pair of empty netters plus ensuing fireworks, it is going to be interesting to see the way Wednesday's game goes down. With points so valuable for both teams, its hard to see it going straight sideways - but this rivalry has intensified to a new high over the two seasons that I've been with the Warriors.

Monday, 15 February 2016

February 16th vs Vernon PREVIEW

It's an early morning start, so a late night blog (or early morning depending when you're reading this) for Tuesday's preview.

The Warriors and Vipers begin a mini 3-game series over the course of the next four days, as they trade Anti-Bullying Awareness games starting at 11 AM on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

West Kelowna has been wearing their Anti-Bullying jerseys all month, and the Vipers are expected to don pink for both games this week as well.

Over 1200 school kids will be in attendance at Royal LePage Place for the game, and the atmosphere should be fantastic. The Warriors aren't new to the anti-bullying games, but they're hopeful that this will be the best one yet. Even Kyle Marino is excited for this one, as he'll give a speech between the first and second periods on Anti-Bullying.

As far as the action on the ice goes, it is an important time in the season for both teams, and it will be very interesting to see how both teams adapt to the early start. The Warriors never played an early game at the Showcase this season, which is the only time that teams in the BCHL usually play before 2:00. Knowing how routine-oriented hockey players are, it could come down to who finds their legs and adjusts first.

The Vipers sit just two points clear of the Merritt Centennials for the fourth and final playoff spot, as the Centennials push themselves to try and sneak in at the last possible moment. The Vipers do have three games in hand over the Centennials, so the next two days are crucial for the Vipers to try and drive a gap between the two teams. Vernon's magic number is 6 points.

The Warriors split their weekend with a loss to Penticton and a win against the Langley Rivermen. West Kelowna is in a chase of their own, trying to lock down home ice in the first round. Their playoff opponent, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks are five points back with one game in hand.

Stats Pack:

Vernon – 22-26-0-3

HOME – 12-12-0-2
ROAD – 10-14-0-1

Top Scorers
Odeen Tufto (21 G, 37 A)
Liam Finlay (14 G, 26 A)
Bo Pellah (2 G, 31 A)

GF – 159
GA – 174

PP – 5th – 54 for 245 (22.0%)
PK – 12th – 180 for 231 (77.9%)

West Kelowna – 34-17-1-2

HOME – 17-7-1-1
ROAD – 13-10-0-1

Top Scorers
Jonathan Desbiens (40 G, 35 A)
Liam Blackburn (25 G, 43 A)
Kylar Hope (25 G, 42 A)

GF - 221
GA – 170

PP – 3rd – 59 for 252 (23.4%)
PK – 5th – 237 for 274 (82.8%)

Next Game – Wednesday February 17th
@ Vernon – 11 AM – Kal Tire Place

Head-to-Head Lifetime – West Kelowna is 31-25-2-6 All-Time vs Vernon
Warriors 20-9-0-2 All-Time vs the Vipers at home.

West Kelowna is 3-1 this season vs. Vernon.