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BCHL  

Lambert signs with U of M

Another Vernon Viper is skating his way to higher education.

Forward Jimmy Lambert has committed to the University of Michigan for next season.

Lambert, 20, currently has five goals and 12 assists in 13 games.

He is in his third season with the BC Hockey League Snakes and has played 114 regular season games with the Okanagan squad.

Lambert could add to his points total tonight at Kal Tire Place when the Vipers host the Surrey Eagles.

The puck drops at 6 p.m.

The Vipers will have little time to rest as they hit the road Sunday to take on the Smoke Eaters in Trail.



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Ramping up fan experience

It's all about the fan experience - giving fans a little more, and something different for their entertainment dollar.

That's the philosophy the West Kelowna Warriors are using this season.

So, far, it's working.

It doesn't hurt that the team is off to one of the best starts in the 12 year history of the franchise.

Restricted by space and with no luxury suites to sell, the Warriors got creative in an effort to give fans a bit more.

"Obviously, we have implemented the VIP section, which is going over really well. Fans are loving it," said director of business operations Alex Draper.

"And, we have hired six girls to sell beer in the crowd and the fans are liking that too."

The VIP section has been set up along the breezeway at the south end of Royal LePage Place. It's similar to a suite in that it offers not only a good view, but food and drink service as well.

Draper said both are going over really well with the fans.

"And, to eliminate food lineups, we have brought in food vendors who are set up on the concourse," said Draper.

"We have increased signage throughout the arena to show people exactly who players her, the 2016 RBC Cup champion West Kelowna Warriors. We want to let people know this is our house."

The club has also tried different promotional ideas.

"Last Tuesday, we had our first 25 cent chicken wing night. We projected to sell 1,000 and sold 3,500."

A combination of things, a first place team, changes and a fresh memory of a team that nearly left town last season, has resulted in a uptick at the gate.

Through the first five games, the Warriors are up more than 100 fans per game over last year. The team has put in 1.044 fans per game over the first five, including one sell out and a near sellout.

Royal LePage Place holds 1,300 seated.

The Warriors have managed better attendance numbers despite the fact their top draws, the Vernon Vipers and Penticton Vees have yet to make an appearance.

Warriors fans will get another chance to experience the new digs Saturday when the Cowichan Valley Capitals make a trip into West Kelowna to close out the club's four game home stand.



Vees rally, beat Cents again

For the second time in a week, the Penticton Vees staged a third-period comeback to beat the Merritt Centennials.

The Vees skated off on the right side of a 4-2 score at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Friday night, in front of 2,912 fans in Penticton.

The first and second period looked a lot the same, as the Vees had more puck possession but weren't able to generate many quality chances, thanks to impressively structured defensive play by the Centennials.

Penticton led 26-12 in shots after 40 minutes but trailed 1-0 to Merritt.

The home team didn't take their foot off the gas, and it payed off against the Cents in the final frame.

Shortly after the Vees were whistled for a penalty early in the third period, Jonny Tychonick chipped a puck ahead to the two co-captains, Owen Sillinger and Grant Cruikshank, for a shorthanded two-on-oh. 

Sillinger fed a pass across to Cruikshank who scored on a one-timer to get the Vees on the board and put some air back in the SOEC.

Goals came quickly after that. Merritt would score its second powerplay goal of the night on that same Penticton penalty less than a minute later, restoring the lead for the visitors.

Less than a minute after that, Massimo Rizzo scored to knot things up at two, and Ryan Sandelin buried the eventual game-winning goal 61 seconds later.

The Vees stayed in control, outshooting the Cents 17-8 in the third period. Dakota Boutin iced it with an empty-net goal in the game's final minute.

Defensemen Luke Reid and Jonny Tychonick each had two assists, and goalie Nolan Hildebrand made 18 saves for his fourth win of the season.

The Centennials goals came from Bradley Cocca and Rylan Van Unen, and reigning B.C. Hockey League player of the week Jacob Berger stopped 39 shots in the loss.

The Vees led 43-20 in shots on the night, their second-highest shot output this season. Their highest shot total was 45, coming in Merritt during a 3-2 overtime win, seven nights ago.

Penticton continues to boast the league's best win-percentage, now at .864 per cent with nine wins, one loss and one tie through 11 games.

Both Chris Klack and Joe Leahy sat out with injuries for the Vees. 

The Vees will jump on the bus and travel south of the border on Saturday, where they will visit the Wenatchee Wild at the Town Toyota Centre. 

Saturday's game will be the first meeting this season between the Wild and the Vees, who are now Interior division opponents.

The Wild won the Mainland division a season ago, but this year have switched to the Interior. 

Penticton sits two points ahead of Wenatchee in the division standings, despite having played three fewer games to date.



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Warriors add forward depth

The West Kelowna Warriors made a move Wednesday to improve their forward depth.

The Warriors have acquired 19-year-old forward Michael Lombardi from the Chilliwack Chiefs for future considerations.

In 13 games with the Chiefs this season, Lombardi has two goals, three assists and six penalty minutes.

Prior to joining the Chiefs, Lombardi spent three seasons at Kimball Union Academy, where he amassed 34 goals and 90 points in 106 career games.

“We are very pleased to add a player like Michael to our program,” said Warriors head coach and general manager Rylan Ferster, “He’s a great talent that will add nice offensive touch to our forward core.” 

In a corresponding move, the Warriors have placed forward Matt Kowalski on the injured reserve.

The Vernon native collected five goals and 10 points in 12 games this season before suffering an injury on Friday night against the Wenatchee Wild. His timetable for a return to the lineup is unknown.

Lombardi will make his Warrior debut on Saturday night when West Kelowna faces off against the Cowichan Valley Capitals at Royal LePage Place to close out a four-game home stand. T



Vees suffer first loss of year

No undefeated teams remain in the B.C. Hockey League after Wednesday night, as the Penticton Vees suffered their first loss of the season in their tenth game.

The Vees fell 2-1 to the Langley Rivermen at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Penticton led 37-19 in shots on the night, and fired more pucks on goal in the third period than Langley did all game.

The Rivermen led 1-0 after the first period, despite being outshot 8-2. The Vees also hit a pair of posts and missed on an open cage in that opening frame.

Langley would double the lead early in the third period, which appeared to light a fuse under the Vees the rest of the way.

Dakota Boutin scored his fourth goal on the year to break the goose egg, about four minutes after Langley had taken a two-goal lead, although that was as close as Penticton would come on the scoreboard.

Despite being brutally outshot, the Rivermen played a stingy enough road game to not allow the Vees enough time and space to capitalize on their chances, some of which were glorious.

Powerplay chances were minimal on the night with just three being given to each team. The Rivermen went 0-3 on the man-advantage, while the Vees went 1-3.

One winning note on the night for the Vees was an announced attendance of 2,870 at the South Okanagan Events Centre, on the team's first Wednesday-night game of the season.

The first Wednesday-night game of the 2016-17 campaign, on Oct. 12, 2016, saw 2,682 fans fill the seats at the SOEC.

Penticton now has eight wins, one loss and one tie through 10 games.

While Wednesday night was the first loss of the Vees' season, every other BCHL club had at least one loss by Sept. 23rd. 

The Vees will quickly regroup and look ahead to a pair of games this weekend.

The Merritt Centennials visit the SOEC on Friday night, before Penticton travels south to face the Wenatchee Wild on Saturday night.



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