The West Kelowna Warriors return to Royal LePage Place for the first time in almost two weeks as they host the Penticton Vees in another edition of the Highway 97 rivalry on Friday night.
Warriors vs. Vees 2017/18 Schedule:
Friday, September 29th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (BOXSCORE)
Friday, November 3rd @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
Friday, November 17th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
Wednesday, November 29th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (7:00 PM)
Friday, December 8th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (7:00 PM)
Friday, December 15th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)
The Warriors and Vees have played once so far in the 2017/18 season with Penticton coming away with a 2-1 victory in a tightly-contested affair. Nik Amundrud was outstanding in the West Kelowna net, giving the Warriors a chance at a win all night long and making 31 saves. Goals by Dakota Boutin and Grant Cruikshank put the Vees ahead by two goals before Chase Dubois scored with 1:14 remaining in the game to get the Warriors within one but they could not find the equalizer in the final minute of action.
West Kelowna enters action on Friday night with an 11-7-0-0 record and looking to reverse a recent stretch that has seen them drop their last three game in a row with the latest coming on Sunday afternoon in Merritt against the Centennials in a 5-1 loss. Garrett Ewert scored his first BCHL goal in the 3rd period but was all the offence the Warriors could muster. Cole Demers had a busy night in the Warriors crease as he made 47 saves on 52 shots in his first loss of the year.
Warriors Leading Scorers:
Jared Marino (6-9-15)
Cavin Tilsley (3-9-12)
Michael Ryan (1-11-12)
RJ Murphy (5-6-11)
Chase Dubois (6-4-10)
There will be a new addition in the Warriors lineup when they hit the ice on Friday night as forward Lucas Cullen (’99) was added to the team’s roster on Thursday. Cullen, 18, spent the last two seasons with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League (WHL) where he tallied 4 goals and 9 points in 48 career games with Calgary. The Kelowna, BC native has played with current Warriors in Matt Kowalski, Chase Stevenson, Jordan Todd and Cole Demers with the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League where Cullen tallied 24 goals and 45 points in 40 games.
The Warriors are hopeful the Cullen addition will spark their offence, which currently sits tied for 10th in the BCHL with 55 goals in 18 games played. During their three-game losing stretch, the Warriors have been outscored by a 14-3 margin and will look to turn their offence around against one of the better defensive teams in the league as the Vees have given up the least amount of goals with only 35 surrendered in 15 games.
Playing into the offensive conversation will be the Warriors ability to score first, another area that has plagued them over the last few games. West Kelowna has not scored first in six games, dating back to October 13th against Wenatchee, with a quick start needed on Friday night. The Warriors are 6-1-0-0 this season when scoring first but only did so three times in the month of October.
The Penticton Vees come into Friday night’s game with a 10-3-1-1 record but have dropped four of their last six games with the most recent game being a 4-1 loss on Saturday night against the Trail Smoke Eaters at Cominco Arena. Jackson Keane scored the lone goal for the Vees while Adam Scheel made 34 saves on 38 shots in his 4th loss of the season.
Vees Leading Scorers:
Owen Sillinger (6-8-14)
Nicky Leivermann (2-9-11)
Dakota Boutin (6-3-9)
Cassidy Bowes (3-6-9)
Jared Nash (4-4-8)
The Vees, much like the Warriors, are a scoring-by-committee team in that there isn’t one player that is far ahead of the pack in scoring or points. The captain Owen Sillinger leads the Vees with 14 points and his 6 goals are tied with Dakota Boutin for the team lead. Grant Cruikshank has come back from an injury and produced well with 5 goals in 11 games thus far this season.
Goal scoring has been somewhat of an issue for Penticton over the course of their 15 games played as they rank 14th in the BCHL with 47 goals and have scored 18 goals over their last 6 games, a stretch that has seen them drop 4 of those contests. Although the offence has not been as high powered as the Vees would like, they lead the league with 35 goals against this season and can play in those low scoring affairs, like the game between these two on September 29th.
In lineup news, the Warriors look like they will be getting back forward Chase Dubois, who missed last weekend entirely with an illness. Nik Amundrud remains sidelined for the Warriors as Cole Demers will be backed up tonight by Aris Anagnostopoulos from the Kelowna Chiefs of the KIJHL. For Penticton, they will be without forward Massimo Rizzo and defenseman Luke Reid as they are off at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge for Hockey Canada in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John while d-man Kenny Johnson sits out the last of a four-game suspension. The Vees do get forward Chris Klack back after missing six games with an injury.
The Warriors and Vees drop the puck a 7:00 PM on Friday night from Royal LePage Place with tickets available at the Warriors office or by calling (250) 769-7051 and also available at the door ahead of face-off. West Kelowna returns to the road on Saturday night when they head to Vernon for the second time in a week to take on the Vipers at 6:00 PM.
The Warriors will be paying their respects to the fallen soldiers who fight to protect our country every day on Wednesday, November 8th when the Warriors take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks at 7:00 PM. West Kelowna will be wearing commemorative jerseys for the night that will be available for auction after the game on the Warriors website. For tickets and more info, head to the Warriors office or call (250) 769-7051.