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GAME PREVIEW: Warriors Close Out Island Road Trip In Alberni vs. Bulldogs

PHOTO: Julie Pringle/Snap Photography

The West Kelowna Warriors wrap up their three-game Island road trip with a trip to Port Alberni to face-off against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon at Weyerhaeuser Arena.

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Warriors vs. Bulldogs 2017/18 Schedule:

Sunday, January 7th @ Weyerhaeuser Arena (2:00 PM)

Sunday, January 28th @ Royal LePage Place (2:30 PM)

The Warriors and Bulldogs play the first of their two-game season set on Sunday with the West Kelowna winning both of the games in the season series from a season ago. The Tribe picked up a 2-1 overtime win in late October in Port Alberni before a 4-2 victory for the Warriors back in West Kelowna in early December to cap off the season series victory for the Warriors.

The Warriors come into Sunday afternoon’s affair after a 4-3 win against the Nanaimo Clippers at Frank Crane Arena on Saturday night. Lucas Cullen scored a pair of 3rd period goals to help the Warriors to the win with Michael Lombardi and Cavin Tilsley adding singles in the victory. Cole Demers was excellent in the Warriors crease with 44 saves on 47 shots for his 10th win of the season.

Warriors Leading Scorers:
Jared Marino (17-25-42)

Chase Dubois (15-18-33)

Michael Ryan (4-26-30)

RJ Murphy (10-17-27)

Michael Lombardi (12-13-25)

The Warriors power play looks to continue it’s surge as they sit 3rd in the BCHL at 21.5% and have had a strong weekend on the man advantage with 4 power play goals on 10 attempts through the two games on this Island swing. Michael Ryan has been one of the biggest contributors on the power play this season with 17 power play assists on the year, which ranks 2nd in the BCHL behind only Jeremy Lucchini of the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Sunday’s have been good to the Warriors when playing at home but a different story when the scene shifts on the road as West Kelowna looks to close out their Island road trip on the right foot. The Warriors hold a 2-0-1-0 record at home on Sunday games but have a 0-2-0-0 record when being the visitors on Sunday’s this season and look to change that against the Bulldogs this afternoon.

Along with Lucas Cullen’s pair of goals in Saturday night’s victory, RJ Murphy had a strong game with two assists and now has points in three straight games and in five of his last six contests. The Needham, Massachusetts native has collected a goal and eight assists for nine points in his last six games and now sits in 4th in team scoring with 27 points on the season.

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs enter Sunday afternoon’s affair with an 11-21-4-3 record and sit in 4th place in the Island Division standings with 29 points and look to rebound after an 8-3 loss in Nanaimo against the Clippers on Friday night. Keaton Mastrodonato, Paul Selleck and Ryan Steele scored the goals for the Bulldogs while Brock Lefebvre started the game, making 27 saves on 33 shots in the Alberni crease and took the loss before being relieved by John Hawthorne stopped 5 of the 7 shots he faced in relief.

Bulldogs Leading Scorers:
Ryan Steele (7-20-27)

Keaton Mastrodonato (12-13-25)

Mitchell Oliver (8-16-24)

Connor Welsh (7-17-24)

Cole Poliziani (6-17-23)

The Bulldogs do not have much turnover from one season ago as just three players remain for their 2016/17 squad along with adding a new head coach in Matt Hughes as captain and forward Ryan Steele and defensemen Darren Rizzolo and Connor Welsh are the lone three returnees for the Bulldogs this season. The team did add some Junior ‘A’ experience with the additions of 20-year-olds Cole Poliziani and Mitchell Oliver to help on the veteran side.

At the top of the Bulldogs scoring leaders, a pair of players in Ryan Steele and Keaton Mastrodonato have been producing solidly over the last handful of games as each has points in four of their last five games. Steele has registered two goals and six assists for eight points in that span while Mastrodonato has three goals and one assist for four points during that stretch of play.

Alberni Valley has played better hockey when inside the comfy confines of Weyerhaeuser Arena in Port Alberni as they hold a record of 7-9-2-2 when at home compared to a 4-12-2-1 record when playing on the road. The Bulldogs are in a span of five of their last six games being on home ice with a 2-3 record in that span so far.

The Warriors and Bulldogs drop the puck at 2:00 PM with the pre-game show getting underway at 1:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com with the voice of the Warriors, Trevor Miller. West Kelowna hits the road once more next weekend for a pair of games south of the border against the Wenatchee Wild.

West Kelowna returns home on Tuesday, January 16th to face-off against the Vernon Vipers in the 5th meeting of their 6-game season series and will be broadcasted live on Shaw TV Okanagan. Tickets are available online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office one hour ahead of the opening puck drop.

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