PHOTO: Chris Fowler/Pure Life Photography
The West Kelowna Warriors enter the final two weeks of the BCHL regular season as they take on the Salmon Arm Silverbacks for the sixth time this season at the Shaw Centre on Wednesday night.
Friday, October 7th @ Royal LePage Place (5-3 Silverbacks) (BOXSCORE)
Wednesday, November 2nd @ Shaw Centre (4-2 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)
Tuesday, December 6th @ Royal LePage Place (4-3 Silverbacks) (BOXSCORE)
Wednesday, February 15th @ Shaw Centre (7:00 PM)
Saturday, February 25th @ Shaw Centre (7:00 PM)
The Warriors enter Wednesday night’s affair after a loss on Tuesday night against the Langley Rivermen, a victory on Thursday night against the Prince George Spruce Kings and their most recent game, a 3-1 loss to the Vernon Vipers at Kal Tire Place on Saturday night in Vernon. Chase Dubois scored the lone goal for the Warriors in the loss, his 17th of the season and it came courtesy of a power play. Cole Demers got the start in goal and lost his 15th game of the season while making 33 saves on 36 shots against his former club.
The Warriors and Silverbacks haven’t matched up against each other since December 6th, a span of 70 days, with Salmon Arm winning their last meeting by a 4-3 score. Stephen Kleysen opened the scoring before the Warriors surrendered four unanswered goals to the ‘Backs to put them down by a 4-1 score. Braiden Epp and Michael Ryan closed the gap with third period goals but couldn’t get the Warriors back to even. Nik Amundrud made 33 saves on 37 shots in goal on the night for the Warriors.
The specialty teams for the Warriors over the past pair of games has done the team well, especially in regards of the penalty kill. After going 2/5 on the PK on Tuesday night against Langley, the Warriors have killed off their last 13 penalties and have also scored a shorthanded goal in that time. The power play has seen a bit of success as well with goals in back-to-back games when on the man advantage.
West Kelowna has had their troubles with Salmon Arm over the course of the season posting just one win in five games against their rivals from the Shuswap. The Warriors have scored 17 goals in the five games against the ‘Backs while they have given up 24 goals against with each game being decided by either one or two goals. It could be a potential first round matchup (for a 2nd straight season) as the Warriors sit in 4th place in the Interior Division with 52 points, just two behind the Trail Smoke Eaters with 54 for 3rd place in the division while Salmon Arm holds 6th place with 44 points.
The Warriors have played undermanned for a while, dressing just 17 players on Saturday night (including two goaltenders), but look like a pair of players will make their return to the lineup tonight in Salmon Arm. Captain & defenseman Nicholas Rutigliano as well as forward Peter Tomaras are set to return to the lineup after each player missed nine games with upper-body injuries. Defenseman Scott Allan and forward Jared Marino will continue to be sidelined for the Warriors as well as forward Jon Russell who will not suit up tonight. Affiliate players and forwards Jon Van Der Molan and Tyler Chavez-Leech will draw into the lineup tonight from the Revelstoke Grizzlies of the KIJHL.
The Salmon Arm Silverbacks enter play on Wednesday night with a 19-27-3-3 record and sit in 6th place in the Interior Division with a win and a loss behind them on a past weekend on Vancouver Island. The win came on Saturday night against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs by a 3-0 score before dropping a 5-3 score to the Victoria Grizzlies on Sunday afternoon. Captain Carson Bolduc scored a pair of goals while Jared Turcotte added a single in the losing effort while Nic Tallarico got the start in goal for the ‘Backs as he made 34 saves on 39 shots in his 7th loss of the season.
The Silverbacks were the busiest team during the January 10th trade deadline and saw four players traded from the club including former captain Mitch Skapski and Haydn Hopkins to the Cowichan Valley Capitals, forward Josh Blanchard to the Nanaimo Clippers and defenseman Carter Cochrane to the Trail Smoke Eaters. The ‘Backs got two players in return from the deals they made, both coming over from the Caps in the likes of forwards Ryan Hogg and Trevor Ayre. A total of nine players between the Warriors and Silverbacks are either no longer with the teams or were not present the last time these two teams met up 70 days ago.
The Silverbacks sit 13th in the BCHL with 160 goals for on the season and are led in assists (36) and points (54) by captain and 2nd-year forward Carson Bolduc. The ‘Backs are led in goals by another second year forward in Elijiah Barriga who has 24 in 52 games played this season. Goaltender Nic Tallarico has been a welcomed addition for the Silverbacks as he boasts a .915 SV% in his 19 games played with the club. Tallarico has guarded the blue paint in the majority of the games that he has been with the team for and has played in six straight games to date.
The Warriors and Silverbacks are slated to drop the puck at 7:00 PM tonight with the pre-game show getting underway at 6:50 PM with the voice of the Warriors Trevor Miller with free audio on the Warriors Internet Network or watch live at www.hockeytv.com. The Warriors conclude their four-game stretch away from Royal LePage Place when they head to the South Okanagan Events Centre on Friday night for the final time in the regular season to face-off against the Penticton Vees.