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GAME PREVIEW: Warriors Open Kootenay Weekend In Cranbrook Against Bucks

The West Kelowna Warriors (3-1-0-0) travel to the Kootenays for a pair of games, beginning on Friday night as they take on the Cranbrook Bucks (3-1-0-0) at Western Financial Place.

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REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE VS. CRANBROOK

Friday, October 7th @ Western Financial Place (6:00 PM PST)

Friday, December 9th @ Western Financial Place (6:00 PM PST)

Friday, January 27th @ Western Financial Place (6:00 PM PST)

Friday, March 3rd @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Friday, March 17th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

The Warriors come into the weekend set looking to bounce back following their first loss last Saturday, dropping a 10-3 decision to the Penticton Vees at Royal LePage Place. Isaiah Norlin, Michael Salandra and Felix Caron each potted goals in the losing effort while Justin Katz got the start in net, turning aside 21 of the 28 shots thrown his way in his 1st loss of the season before Angelo Zol came on in the final 19:24, making 6 saves on 9 shots in his BC Hockey League debut in net.

West Kelowna and Cranbrook play the first of their five-game, Friday-exclusive season series at Western Financial Place after a season series during the Bucks first full season in the league that saw the Warriors win two of the six games played head-to-head. West Kelowna won two of the first three games of the season set before Cranbrook would take the final three games of the season series.

Warriors Leading Scorers:

Michael Salandra (2-5-7)

Brennan Nelson (2-3-5)

Rylee Hlusiak (1-4-5)

Nolan Hayes (0-4-4)

Matt Fusco (3-0-3)

Despite the lopsided score, the Warriors did get a marker from Isaiah Norlin, who tallied in his second straight game following his goal in Friday night’s home opening victory against the Wenatchee Wild. The second year Warrior defender has registered a pair of goals and an assist for three points this season and has already matched his goal output from a season ago. The Minneapolis, Minnesota native posted 2 goals and 11 assists for 13 points during his 38-game rookie campaign in the BCHL.

Adding to the offensive attack on Saturday and a consistent source of points for the season was Michael Salandra, the team’s leading scorer and the 7th leading scorer in the league. The Pleasantville, New York native has also tallied markers in back-to-back games, posted two goals and five assists for his seven points during a three-game point streak. Salandra came to West Kelowna following a season with the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks in the North American Hockey League, registering 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points in 55 games played.

Following another successful weekend of power play possession, where the Warriors scored six power play goals over two games, West Kelowna ranks second in the league in power play goals for with 7 on the season. The Warriors have also generated the most chances on the power play, going 7-for-25 on the season and rank 4th in the league in power play percentage at 28.0%.

The Cranbrook Bucks come into the weekend of play following back-to-back wins against the Trail Smoke Eaters, concluding with a 6-0 shutout triumph at Western Financial Place on Saturday night. Nick Peluso scored twice while Jack Silich, Rhys Bentham, Kellan Hjartarson and Jaxon Fuder added singles in the win. Nathan Airey turned aside each of the 26 shots he faced in his 2nd win of the season and 5th career BCHL shutout.

Bucks Leading Scorers:

Nick Peluso (2-3-5)

Kellan Hjartarson (2-2-4)

Luke Pfoh (2-2-4)

Rhys Bentham (1-3-4)

Donovan Frias (1-3-4)

The Bucks come into their second full season in the BCHL following a six-game, Interior Conference Quarter Final series against the Prince George Spruce Kings after a 30-27-0-0 record to place 5th in the Interior Conference in the regular season. Cranbrook returns 10 players from last year’s team, including team captain Rhys Bentham with Carsyn Good, Bauer Morrissey and Cameron Kungle also coming back on the blue line. Jarrod Smith, Noah Quinn, Kellan Hjartarson, Luke Pfoh and Jaden Fodchuk are back up front and Nathan Airey returns for his third season in net.

Two goals from leading scorer Nick Peluso were part of a three-point night for the first-year Bucks forward, who has collected points in three of his first four games of the season. The University of Maine commit has garnered an assist in each game but one so far this season and played a big role in his team’s two wins last weekend, scoring 2 goals and 2 assists for 4 points in the duo of games. The Victor, New York native spent 39 games with the Muskegon Lumberjacks in the United States Hockey League (USHL), scoring 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points before coming to Cranbrook.

Earning his 5th career shutout on Saturday against the Smoke Eaters, Bucks goaltender Nathan Airey sits with a 3.00 goals against average and a .903 save percentage on the season in his three games played. The Abbotsford, BC native owns a 3.01 GAA and a .902 SV% in 55 career games in the league and is one of the longest tenured Bucks players, joining forwards Noah Quinn and Jarrod Smith along with defensemen Rhys Bentham and Cameron Kungle.

The Warriors and Bucks play the first of their five-game season set from Western Financial Place. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM MST (6:00 PM PST) with the game broadcasted live on AM 1150 as well as streamed online on BCHLTV.ca beginning with the pre-game show at 6:40 PM.