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GAME PREVIEW: Warriors Open Season On Vancouver Island To Take On Capitals

The West Kelowna Warriors (0-0-0-0) open their 2022/23 regular season as they begin a two-game swing on Vancouver Island to take on the Cowichan Valley Capitals (0-0-0-0) on Friday night at the Cowichan Community Centre.

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REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE VS. COWICHAN VALLEY

Friday, September 23rd @ Cowichan Community Centre (7:00 PM)

The Warriors come into this season following an appearance in the Interior Conference Final against the Penticton Vees last season, concluding the regular season with a 37-16-1-0 record, finishing 3rd in the Interior Division. The 3rd round appearance was the first since the team’s National Championship in 2016.

West Kelowna and Cowichan Valley have not met since January 18th, 2020, which completed a two-game season series in which each team won a game during the set. The Warriors earned a 3-2 shootout win on January 18th with the Capitals earning a 6-2 triumph earlier in the season on November 10th.

Warriors 2021/22 Regular Season Leading Scorers:

Felix Trudeau (27-34-61)

Tyler Cristall (30-27-57)

Elan Bar-Lev-Wise (23-30-53)

Tyson Jugnauth (9-41-50)

John Evans (19-29-48)

The Warriors return a total of seven players, including a pair of third year players in Brennan Nelson and Riley Sharun. Alexi Van Houtte-Cachero is another returner up front while Isaiah Norlin and Dylan Brooks make their way back to the lineup on the blue line and Justin Katz comes back in between the pipes.

One of the new recruited Warriors to come to the team this season comes in the form of forward Ben MacDonald, who brings a big pedigree to the Central Okanagan. The Weston, Massachusetts native was selected in the 3rd round, 91st overall by the Seattle Kraken in the National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft, and brings his defence and physicality to the Warriors lineup. The Harvard University commit posted 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points in 22 games played with Noble & Greenough School in US Prep hockey.

West Kelowna had another player selected in Montreal at the NHL Entry Draft as forward Luke Devlin was selected 182nd overall in the 6th round by the Pittsburgh Penguins and comes to the Warriors following a strong season with St. Andrew’s College a season ago. The Cornell University commit posted 19 goals and 28 assists for 47 points in 44 games to place 1st on the team in points.

The Cowichan Valley Capitals come into the new season following a playoff appearance in the 2022 postseason, bowing out in opening round to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and finished the regular season with a 15-33-5-1 record and finished 8th in the Coastal Division.

Capitals 2021/22 Regular Season Scoring Leaders:

David Jacobs (17-35-52)

Luke Haymes (22-27-49)

Massimo Lombardi (17-24-41)

Griffin Wilson (10-23-33)

Brett Fudger (17-15-32)

The Capitals will have quite a bit of a different look this season with four returnees making their way back for the 2022/23 campaign as Massimo Lombardi, Ian Kern, Connor Elliott and McCoy Bidewell make their way back to Duncan for the new season. The Caps have made a couple of moves as well, including the most recent one that sees forward Jackson Morehouse come to Cowichan from the Victoria Grizzlies.

A large part of the offensive attack for Brian Passmore and his team will come from the likes of Lombardi, who sat 3rd on the team in scoring throughout the 2021/22 season. The Beaconsfield, QC native posted 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points in 48 games played with the Capitals last season, including 3 goals and 6 points in the four-game series against Alberni Valley.

One of the newcomers to the Capitals this season comes in the way of Oliver Salo, who has some NHL bloodlines in his veins with his father, Sami, having played 15 seasons in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay Lightning. The younger Salo played in Canada for the first time during the 2021/22 season, posting 31 goals and 63 points in just 38 games played at the Rothesay Netherwood School in under-18 AAA.

The Warriors kick-off the season with their opening game in Cowichan against the Capitals with a 7:00 PM puck drop at the Cowichan Community Centre. The game will be the first ever Warriors broadcast on radio as AM 1150 will carry the game, beginning with the pre-game show at 6:40 PM with the game also streamed on BCHLTV.ca.