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GAME PREVIEW: Warriors Head To Nicola Valley To Take On Cents

PHOTO: Ian Webster/Merritt Herald

The West Kelowna Warriors begin a weekend on home ice as they host their annual Parent’s Weekend and take on the Merritt Centennials on Friday night at Royal LePage Place.

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Warriors vs. Centennials 2017/18 Schedule:

Saturday, September 16th @ Royal LePage Place (3-1 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Sunday, October 29th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (5-1 Centennials) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, November 24th @ Royal LePage Place (7-2 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, December 1st @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)

Saturday, February 3rd @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Friday, February 23rd @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)

The Warriors and Centennials play the fourth of their six-game season series tonight in Merritt and the last game against each other for two months. The Warriors picked up a 7-2 victory in the last head-to-head matchup one week ago at RLP. The Warriors got from seven different goal scorers as RJ Murphy, Parm Dhaliwal, Spencer Hora, Willie Reim, Jared Marino, Jordan Todd and Michael Lombardi all contributed with offence. Nik Amundrud was solid in his return to the lineup after missing nine games as he made 35 saves on 37 shots for the win in between the pipes.

West Kelowna comes into Friday night’s contest after a 3-0 loss to the Penticton Vees on Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Despite many chances to score in the game, the Warriors were thwarted off by a strong performance from Vees goaltender Adam Scheel, who made 33 saves for his 2nd consecutive shutout and just the 2nd time the Warriors have been shutout this season. Nik Amundrud had another solid night in the Warriors crease with 23 saves on 25 shots in his 8th loss of the season.

Warriors Leading Scorers:

Jared Marino (10-13-23)

Chase Dubois (9-13-22)

Michael Ryan (3-18-21)

Parm Dhaliwal (6-13-19)

Chase Stevenson (7-11-18)

The search for offence continues for the Warriors after being shut out on Wednesday night and some of that offence may come from the back end and Michael Ryan may be the player to get that going. The Union College commit has been steady for the Warriors in point production on the blue line, ranking 4th amongst BCHL defensemen in assists with 18 and sits 8th in the league amongst blue liners with 21 points this season.

Nicola Valley Memorial Arena has been a tough place for opponents to play and the Warriors will be looking to try and get a big win in Merritt. West Kelowna holds a 6-7-0-3 record at the NVMA in their last 16 trips to the Nicola Valley and are trying to avenge a 5-1 defeat they suffered there on Sunday, October 29th.

The Warriors do get some good news on the injury front and bolster their lineup in a big way as forward Matt Kowalski is set to return to the lineup after missing nearly two months with an injury. The Vernon, BC native has tallied 5 goals and 10 points in 13 games this season before having to sit out the last 17 games with an ailment. Parm Dhaliwal and Bennett Norlin remain out of the lineup for the Warriors with injuries.

The Merritt Centennials come into Friday night’s action after a big win last Saturday night over the Trail Smoke Eaters at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena by a 3-2 score in overtime. After surrendering the opening two goals of the game, the Cents came back with three unanswered to win the game. Brendan Schneider provided the goals in regulation before Henry Cleghorn won the game in overtime. Austin Roden picked up his 3rd win of the season with 37 saves on 39 shots in the extra period victory.

Centennials Leading Scorers:

Henry Cleghorn (10-13-23)

Zach Zorn (8-14-22)

Nicholas Wicks (6-15-21)

Tyrell Buckley (5-12-17)

Zach Court (5-10-15)

In addition to scoring the game winner on Saturday, Cleghorn has been on a bit of a roll over the last few games as he has points in each of his last four games and now leads the Cents both in goals with 10 and points with 23. The West Vancouver, BC native has tallied 3 goals and 3 assists for 6 points during that four-game point streak while Brendan Schneider has points in 3 of his last 4 games.

The Centennials solidified their goaltending with adding Austin Roden to join Jacob Berger and they have been terrific in the crease for Merritt. Roden turned aside 37 shots for his first win with the Centennials since being acquired. Berger has been great for the Cents this season, playing the 4th most minutes in the BCHL and posting a .911 save percentage in his 21 games played this season.

Merritt will be without their head coach until after the Christmas break as Joe Martin left Friday morning to Calgary for the Team Canada West selection camp as he is an assistant coach on the team. Forward Rylan Van Unen for Merritt and forward Chase Stevenson from West Kelowna will be joining Martin in Calgary on Saturday and are both in the lineup for tonight’s action.

The Warriors and Centennials drop the puck at 7:00 PM from the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena with the pre-game going at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com with the voice of the Warriors, Trevor Miller.

The Warriors return home to Royal LePage Place on Saturday, December 2nd against the Wenatchee Wild. Tickets can be purchased online at wkw.ticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office ahead of the opening face-off.

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