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GAME PREVIEW: Warriors Head South For Weekend Against Wild

PHOTO: Garrett James/BCHL 

The West Kelowna Warriors aim for their third victory in a row as they open up a two-game set south of the border to take on the Wenatchee Wild on Friday night at the Town Toyota Center.

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Warriors vs. Wild 2017/18 Schedule:

Friday, October 13th @ Royal LePage Place (4-2 Wild) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, November 10th @ Town Toyota Center (9-2 Wild) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, December 2nd @ Royal LePage Place (4-3 Warriors/OT) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, January 12th @ Town Toyota Center (7:05 PM)

Saturday, January 13th @ Town Toyota Center (7:05 PM)

Tuesday, February 21st @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

The Warriors and Wild have gone just over a month without playing against each other with the last meeting being the first win for the Warriors in the season series with a 4-3 victory in overtime at Royal LePage Place. Lucas Cullen, Willie Reim and Tyler Jutting scored in regulation before RJ Murphy ended the game 2:36 into overtime to give the Warriors the win. Nik Amundrud started in goal for the Warriors and made 45 saves on 48 shots in the victory.

The Warriors come into Friday night’s affair after a pair of wins on a three-game Island Division road trip with a 4-3 win in Nanaimo before another 4-3 victory against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs on Sunday afternoon. Max Bulawka, RJ Murphy, Wyatt Head and Cavin Tilsley scored the goals for the Warriors with Tilsley’s being the game winner in the 3rd period and second in as many games. Nik Amundrud turned aside 22 of the 25 shots he faced in the game for his 9th win of the season.

Warriors Leading Scorers:

Jared Marino (17-25-42)

Chase Dubois (15-19-34)

Michael Ryan (4-27-31)

RJ Murphy (11-17-28)

Ryan Steele (7-21-28)

The Warriors made a splash at the BCHL trading deadline with the acquisition of 20-year-old forward Ryan Steele from the Alberni Valley Bulldogs in exchange for 18-year-old defenseman Spencer Hora and future considerations. Steele, a Stratford, Prince Edward Island native, has collected 17 goals and 56 points to go along with 109 penalty minutes in 96 career games in the BCHL. This season, the 6’0”, 190-pound forward has registered 7 goals and 28 points in 38 games played with the Bulldogs while serving as the team’s captain and also earned a scholarship to Sacred Heart University. Steele will make his Warriors debut tonight wearing jersey number 18.

West Kelowna’s offense has continued to roll through the weekend and now sit tied for 7th goals for and have had a pair of players who have found the back of the net with regularity recently. Murphy has collected points in four straight games with a goal and five points in that span, as well as points in six of his last seven games, while Lombardi has registered points in seven of his last eight games with five goals and nine points in that span.

A pair of Warriors forwards will return to the lineup for the weekend set in Wenatchee as Willie Reim and Jared Marino are back in action. Reim missed all three games with an injury during the Warriors Island road trip while the Warriors captain Marino missed Sunday’s action in Port Alberni but is back for Friday night. West Kelowna will also have affiliate player and forward Mason Richey up from the Cariboo Cougars of the BC Major Midget League with Parm Dhaliwal, Chase Stevenson and Matt Kowalski remaining out.

The Wenatchee Wild come into Friday night’s action with a 25-12-1-2 record and sit in 3rd in the Interior Division with 53 points but did not see any success in their last two games with a 3-0 loss in Salmon Arm on Friday before a 5-2 loss in Penticton the following night on Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Josh Arnold and AJ Vanderbeck scored the goals for the Wild in the defeat while Austin Park started the game for Wenatchee, making 8 saves on 11 shots in 30:18 of work before being relieved by Seth Eisele who stopped 8 of the 9 shots he faced.

Wild Leading Scorers:
Jasper Weatherby (26-25-51)

Lucas Sowder (15-27-42)

Cooper Zech (7-34-41)

AJ Vanderbeck (22-18-40)

Murphy Stratton (10-24-34)

The Wild have been an offensive powerhouse this season with 159 goals for in their 40 games played this season and sit 2nd in the BCHL in goals for, just one behind the Trail Smoke Eaters for the lead. Wenatchee has been especially dynamic on home ice as they have scored 90 of their 159 goals at the Town Toyota Center, good for top spot in the league to go along with a 15-3-0-0 record at home this season and this weekend set with the Warriors kick off a stretch with 7 of the next 8 games for the Wild coming on home ice.

Jasper Weatherby has been a steady contributor to the Wild’s offensive success as he leads the BCHL in points with 51 in his 40 games played this season. The Lummi Island, Washington native sits 2nd in the league with 26 goals but has not registered a point in his last three games. The University of North Dakota commit has had plenty of success against the Warriors this season with 5 goals and 7 points in just three games, including scoring in each game.

Special teams have been a good department for the Wild as well as they sit 3rd in both power play and penalty killing percentage. Wenatchee Is tied for the most power play goals scored in the league this season with 48 and a 21.3%-man advantage while the Wild have been penalized the least in the league, going to the penalty kill just 150 times this season and holding a percentage of 85.3%.

The Warriors and Wild drop the puck on the first of their two-game weekend set on Friday night at the Town Toyota Center at 7:05 PM with the pre-game show airing at 6:45 PM on the Warriors Internet Network and HockeyTV.com with the voice of the Warriors, Trevor Miller. The two teams will battle again at the same time on Saturday night in Wenatchee.

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.