The West Kelowna Warriors resume action this weekend when they take on the Penticton Vees in a home and home as part of the Okanagan Cup.
Last weekend the Warriors played excellent, defeating the Vernon Vipers in back-to-back games. Thanks to some top-notch goaltending by Johnny Derrick and Zach Bennet, the Warriors only surrendered one goal in each game, winning 4-1 and 2-1.
While the Warriors are happy with their start, assistant coach Aytron Nikkel said that his team could be a little better defensively, especially after narrowingly escaping with a 2-1 victory on Saturday night.
“There’s no excuse for the sloppy puck management in the offensive zone and some missed assignments, but in the end it’s preseason and the guys came around late in each game.”
The great news coming out of last weekend is the Warriors’ ability to produce upfront. Felix Trudeau scored a pair of goals in the opening game and returning forward Deegan Mofford netted a goal in each game to finish the weekend leading the Warriors with two goals each. John Evans continued where he left off last season with a pair of assists.
Tonight, the Warriors will have some more new faces in the lineup. One is Colorado Avalanche prospect Matthew Stienburg, who joined the Warriors after the suspension of Ivy League NCAA play brought him to West Kelowna. Then, there’s Boston College committed forward Connor Joyce and blue liner Pat Lawn who were highly sought after by the Warriors scouting staff. It would be no surprise to see Stienburg start Friday’s game on a line with longtime friend Wyllum Deveaux. The two grew up playing against each other in Nova Scotia and will surely have some chemistry.
The new faces for the Warriors will have their hands full against a Vees team that dominated in their opening two games. The Vees dominated the Salmon Arm Silverbacks winning 7-0 and 8-2. The Vees are led by some returning players but all the talk is about their depth. The Vees have four lines that can attack on the rush. A couple names to look for are Matteo Costantini and Quinn Hutson. Costantini recently committed to the University of North Dakota and is expected to go in the 3rd-4th round in next weekend’s NHL entry draft. Hutson is committed to Boston University and currently leads the BCHL in scoring with 5 points.
The Warriors need to be at their best if they wish to beat Vees this weekend. Although with new faces and chemistry still needing to gel, the Warriors focus right now is to get their team in sync in all areas of the ice. The powerplay is one of them. The Warriors have had a total of 10 opportunities on the man advantage last weekend and were unable to cash in on any of them. However, it looks as if their penalty kill has been solid with the Warriors allowing just a single goal in 12 attempts by the Vernon Vipers last weekend.
This evening’s game will be broadcast on both HockeyTV and the Warriors Mixlr Network. Puck drop at 6 p.m. from the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton. Saturday’s game will be a 7 p.m. puck drop from Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna.