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GAME PREVIEW: Warriors Open Playoffs In Trail vs. Smoke Eaters

PHOTO: Randy Emery/Trail Smoke Eaters

The West Kelowna Warriors open up the 2018 playoffs with a first-round matchup against the Trail Smoke Eaters with Game #1 going on Friday night at Cominco Arena.



Warriors vs. Smoke Eaters 2017/18 Schedule:

Friday, September 8th @ Cominco Arena (4-3 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, September 9th @ Royal LePage Place (4-0 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, December 9th @ Royal LePage Place (5-3 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, December 29th @ Royal LePage Place (7-5 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Saturday, December 30th @ Cominco Arena (6-3 Smoke Eaters) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, January 19th @ Cominco Arena (2-1 Warriors) (BOXSCORE)


Warriors vs. Smoke Eaters Playoff Series Schedule:

Game #1: Friday, March 2nd @ Cominco Arena (7:00 PM)

Game #2: Saturday, March 3rd @ Cominco Arena (7:00 PM)

Game #3: Monday, March 5th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

Game #4: Tuesday, March 6th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

*Game #5: Thursday, March 8th @ Cominco Arena (7:00 PM)

*Game #6: Saturday, March 10th @ Royal LePage Place (7:00 PM)

*Game #7: Sunday, March 11th @ Cominco Arena (7:00 PM)

* – If Necessary

The Warriors and Smoke Eaters met six times in their season series with Trail picking up victories in four of the six contests but it was the Warriors who came away with a pair of wins in the three games that were played in Cominco Arena, including a 2-1 win in the final game of their season series. Parm Dhaliwal scored each of the goals for the Warriors in the victory while Nik Amundrud stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced for the win.

West Kelowna and Trail have met three times in the playoffs before with the Warriors winning each series in back-to-back-to-back from 2009 to 2011. The Warriors started off with a three-game series win in a best-of-five series before a five-game series victory in 2010 and a series win in seven games coming in 2011.

Warriors Regular Season Scoring Leaders:

Chase Dubois (21-36-57)

Jared Marino (21-32-53)

Ryan Steele (19-34-53)

RJ Murphy (21-24-45)

Michael Ryan (7-37-44)

20-year-old forward Ryan Steele will play in his first BCHL playoff game on Friday night but is coming into his first playoff run red hot with a 13-game point streak, consisting of 11 goals and 23 points. Chase Dubois has also been very good for the Warriors, collecting points in 4 of his last 5 games and finished the season as the Warriors leading point getter with 21 goals and 57 points in his 56 games.

The Warriors start the playoffs on the road this postseason but have had some of their best road success in Cominco Arena with two wins in three games in Trail during the 2017/18 season.  A couple of Warriors players, in particular, have had plenty of success in those victories with forward Parm Dhaliwal scoring 3 of the Warriors 6 goals (Matt Kowalski has scored the other three goals coming in just one game) while goaltender Nik Amundrud has posted a 2.00 GAA and a .933 SV%, stopping 56 of the 60 shots put on goal in that pair of contests.

There will be some reinforcements on the back end tonight as defenseman Cody Paivarinta will suit up for the first time since January 20th against Salmon Arm. The 6’6”, 190-pound defender has not played for the last 13 games due to an injury and will add some size and grit to the Warriors back end. In 10 games with West Kelowna this season, Paivarinta has tallied one assist and 11 penalty minutes.

The Trail Smoke Eaters come into the playoffs as the #4 seed in the Interior Division with a 32-21-1-4 record and are one of the highest powered offensive teams in the BCHL. Trail is 2nd in the league in goals for with 218 tallies this season and 111 of those have come on home ice. Trail holds a record of 18-10-0-1 through their 29 regular season games at Cominco Arena in the regular season.

Smoke Eaters Regular Season Leading Scorers:

Ross Armour (21-42-63)

Kale Howarth (24-37-61)

Levi Glasman (24-28-52)

Carter Jones (15-30-45)

Andre Ghantous (19-25-44)

The Smoke Eaters hot offense is, in large part, helped by a top line of Kale Howarth, Ross Armour and Levi Gasman, who have combined for 176 points this season as well as 31% of the goals scored for the Smokies in the regular season. Howarth, a 5th round pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the National Hockey League Entry Draft in June of 2017, has tallied 61 points in 44 games this season, good for a 1.39 point-per-game ratio. Armour has also been impressive, leading the Smoke Eaters in points with 63 in his 51 games played this season and has collected 7 points in 6 games against the Warriors in 2017/18.

Trail solidified their goaltending with the addition of netminder Adam Marcoux from the Cowichan Valley Capitals and he has been outstanding since donning the black and orange. Marcoux has played to the tune of a 2.78 GAA and a .917 SV% in his 24 games with the Smokies. Against the Warriors this season, Marcoux held a 2.99 GAA and a .924 SV% in 6 games split between the Cowichan Valley and Trail.

The puck drops at 7:00 PM on Game #1 of the Interior Division Quarter Final between West Kelowna and Trail from Cominco Arena 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 series shifts to Royal LePage Place for Games #3 and 4 beginning on Monday, March 5th for a 7:00 PM face-off. Children 16 and under get free admission with tickets available online at wkw.goticketpro.com, at the Warriors office, by calling (250) 769-7051 or at the box office ahead of the opening puck drop.