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BC Hockey League News

Warriors hang on, sweep weekend

The West Kelowna Warriors survived a late third period scare before skating out of Chilliwack with a weekend sweep and the maximum four points during the season opening Bauer BCHL Showcase.

The Warriors surrendered a pair of late third period power-play goals but hung on to defeat the Nanaimo Clippers 7-6 Sunday afternoon.

With less than five minutes to go and the Warriors up by three, defenceman Kyle Marino took a double minor when he went after Clippers Devin Brosseau who had just run into Warriors netminder Andy Desautels.

The Clippers scored on the first of the two minors with three minutes left then, after Kristian Blumenschein was handed a penalty when the goal was scored, the Clippers connected on the five-on-three to cut the deficit to one.

They didn't get close after that.

Despite allowing six goals Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster wasn't upset with the effort.

"I thought we played pretty well. Our special teams obviously at the end let us down but I don't understand a five-on-three after a goal like that," says Ferster.

Liam Blackburn and Jason Cotton led the way offensively with two goals and an assist each.

Kade Kehoe with his first in the BC Hockey League, Ryan Ivey and Kylar Hope also scored for the Warriors.

Brett Mennear, Dante Hahn and Jonathan Desbiens chipped in with two assists apiece.

Nanaimo led 2-1 after one and held a 3-2 lead late in the second when the Warriors caught fire scoring three times over the final six minutes.

Blackburn tied it at three with his second of the night on a power-play then, with just under a minute left in the frame, Hope knocked in his first of the season seconds after a Clippers penalty had expired.

With the Warriors buzzing in the dying seconds, a desperation centering pass went off Ivey's skate and into the net.

Ivey had pinched deep from the blueline as time was expiring.

The Warriors took advantage of Nanaimo penalties early in the third to build the lead up to three before hanging on at the end.

Blackburn, who finished his rookie season with 17 goals and 43 points in 47 games has gotten off to a torrid start.

He has four goals and an assist over the first two games of the season.

"Any time you can put up goals at the start of the year it gets the confidence going," says Blackburn of his hot start.

"I'm playing with two good guys out there (Dante Hahn and Jordon Masters) and coach is giving me lots of opportunities whether it be power-play, penalty kill or even strength. I'm just trying to take it and run with it."

For Blackburn, this year's experience during the opening weekend in Chilliwack is a lot more positive than it was during his rookie season when the Warriors lost both games to start the season.

The Warriors will put their perfect start on the line Friday night when they entertain the Vernon Vipers in the club's home opener.

Friday is also Firefighter Appreciation night.

Faceoff is 7 p.m. at Royal LePage Place.


Vees squeak past pesky Bulldogs

Fred Harbinson's young Penticton Vees learned a valuable lesson about putting teams away Saturday at the Bauer BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack.

The Vees built up an early 4-0 lead on the strength of three goals from 16-year-old rookie Tyson Jost then hung on for a nail biting 4-3 win.

"Obviously we took a bad penalty at the end of the second period and gave them some momentum. It was a good play on their part to get one at the buzzer," says Harbinson.

"I thought we made some young mistakes in the third period but at the end of the day we get four points so we're happy with that."

The Vees opened up the Showcase Friday with an easy 11-2 thumping of Surrey.

Jost with his three and Riley Alferd put the Vees up 4-0 late in the middle frame.

A power-play goals from Darian Henry with just two-tenths of a second left in the period gave the Bulldogs some life going into the third.

Scott Clark at 6:37 and Dylan Haugen shorthanded three minutes later pulled the Dawgs to within one, however, they were unable to get many good looks on Hunter Miska in the Vees net after that.

Harbinson was impressed with the play of Jost who now has six points after two games after picking up a trio of assists in the blowout win over Surrey but reiterated everybody has to show up if the team is going to have success.

"I thought three of lines came today and one of them was a little off and for me it's a lesson learned that obviously we're a good hockey club but we're going to be pushed by every team in the league if we don't have everybody showing up."

The Vees with some of the best young talent in the province in Jost, 17-year-old forward Liam Finlay and top end defenceman Dante Fabbro, are already being compared with the 2011-2012 club that finished 54-4-0-2 and established a Canadian Hockey League record 42 game winning streak.

"We won't be doing that but I think we have a team that has a lot of talent and it will be our job to make sure that we get them to work every night," says Harbinson.

The Vees are now a perfect 6-0 over the three years of the Showcase event in Chilliwack.

The Vernon Vipers became the first interior teams to drop a game at the Showcase, falling 5-4 to Victoria in overtime.

The Grizzlies got the game winner from Mitch Meek 3:38 into the first overtime period.

Anthony Latina forced overtime for the Vipers with his second of the game at 18:44 of the third.

Earlier in the day both the Trail Smoke Eaters and Merritt Centennials opened up with convincing wins.

The Smokies got five goals and an assist from 19-year-old rookie import Charlie Zuccarini in an 8-3 over Coquitlam while John Schiavo scored twice leading Merritt past Cowichan Valley 5-3.

The Smokies, Centennials, West Kelowna Warriors and Salmon Arm all conclude the Showcase Sunday.


Warriors bury Express in opener

Rookie Scott Patton wasn't very busy but he was sharp when he had to be.

The 18-year-old Cambridge, ON native stopped 19 of 21 shots directed his way leading his club to a convincing 6-2 win over the reigning BCHL champion Coquitlam Express top open the Bauer Showcase series in Chilliwack.

"To be honest I'm just here to play when they ask me to," says Patton of the somewhat surprising open game start.

"Obviously Desi (Andy Desautels) is the starter and he knows that but whenever they ask me to I've got to be ready and today they felt I could go and Desi can go on Sunday so I just put my head down and went to work."

If there were any nerves Patton didn't show it. It likely didn't hurt that his father, who flew into Chilliwack to visit his son for the weekend, was in the crowd.

Head coach Rylan Ferster says it was just a matter of getting both goalies time on the opening weekend of the season.

"We knew they were both going to split down here this weekend so it was nothing really earth shattering. We just thought Scott would go tonight and Desi on Sunday," says Ferster.

"He did play well. I thought he made some real good saves - tough luck, I thought both goals were pretty nice  goals and he didn't have much of a chance on either."

Patton got all the offence he needed in the opening 20 minutes as the Warriors put up four in front of him to grab a 4-1 first period lead.

Defenceman Greydon Robinson opened the scoring for the Warriors on the power-play when his wrist shot from the point found its way behind Express netminder Pierce Dushenko.

It was apropos Robinson would get the goal after he was taken hard into his own net, drawing the interference penalty that led to the goal.

The Express would tie it 10 seconds later before the Warriors went to work.

Liam Blackburn scored his first of two when his shorthanded wrist shot from the slot beat Dushenko glove side with the Warriors a man down.

Jonathan Desbiens and Blackburn with his second also scored in the opening period.

Jason Cotton and Brett Mennear closed out the scoring in the second.

Desbiens also had a pair of assists to go along with his goal for a three point night.

"He's quick when he gets the puck, he can really take off. He's an offensively gifted guy," Ferster says of Desbiens.

The Express closed out the scoring with a power-play goal with less than four seconds left on the clock.

The Warriors outshot the Express 50-21 including a 21-7 advantage in the second period alone.

The Warriors also did a good job of closing the game out in the third period, controlling the puck and the play as they did much of the opening 40 minutes.

Despite the wide margin of victory, Ferster says there are still things the teams needs to tidy up, especially defensively.

"I think we need to tighten a few things up in our end just when the puck is on our stick to make a good play.

We want to be a first time out team. I think you have to realize if you have the puck they can't score. Don't just give it to them for free."

The Warriors bused home after the game. They will make the return trip to Chilliwack Sunday for their final game of the Showcase event when they face the Nanaimo Clippers Sunday afternoon.

While the Warriors were running over Coquitlam, the Penticton Vees  were doing the same - and then some - to the Surrey Eagles.

The Vees snapped a 2-2 tie with nine unanswered goals over the final 32 minutes in an 11-2 thumping of the Eagles.

Newcomer Lewis Zerter - Gossage led the way for the Vees with three goals and an assist.

Matthew Serratore had two goals including the eventual game winner while Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro and Steen Cooper all chipped in with three assists.

The Vees, who have never lost a game at the Showcase Series, look to make it six for six when they take on the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Saturday afternoon.


Vipers sweat out opening win

It's the kind of game that tends to turn a coaches hair grey - very quickly.

The Vernon Vipers completely dominated the Cowichan Valley Capitals Friday afternoon but needed two third period goals to eke out a 2-0 victory.

It was the opening game of the Bauer BCHL Showcase event in Chilliwack and the first regular season game for both teams.

After peppering Capitals netminder Lane Michasiw with more than 30 fruitless shots the Vipers finally goal on the board when Thomas Aldworth broke the deadlock with a shorthanded goal 7:09 into the final frame.

Just 68 seconds later Ayden MacDonald scored an unassisted goal to give the Vipers a bit of breathing room.

"I liked our compete level throughout three periods tonight," says interim Vipers head coach, Kevin Kraus.

"We never gave up even though we couldn't solve their goalie for two periods. We kept going and in the third period they were just going in for us."

For the first game of the year, Kraus says he'll take it.

"We're still jelling, we're still trying to get our offensive touch.

But I'm happy with our work ethic. There are still some D zone things we can work on so we'll look forward to going tomorrow night."

Veteran Danny Todosychuk turned aside all 13 shots he faced for the shutout. It was just his second career shutout, his first coming during his rookie campaign three seasons ago.

Todosychuk is one of just five players returning from the team that won the Interior Division title a year ago and hosted the RBC Cup.

Kraus says it will take a few games for everyone to gel.

"We only returned five players so that's obviously something we have to gain here throughout the first couple of games of the season...just getting some momentum going and some chemistry going," says Kraus.

"But we have a lot of veteran guys coming in that have junior hockey experience so there's a lot that they can add to the rookie players."

The Vipers play their final game of the Showcase Saturday afternoon against the Victoria Grizzlies.

One other game Friday afternoon saw The Salmon Arm Silverbacks hold on for a 4-2 victory over the Langley Rivermen.

Nick Hutchison hit the empty net with 22 seconds left in regulation time to seal it for Salmon Arm.

The goal came just nine seconds after the Rivermen connected on the power-play to cut the deficit to one.

Andrew Farny, Thomas Plese and Carson Bolduc also scored for the Silverbacks.

Salmon Arm headed home after the game.

They don't play again until Sunday evening when they tackle the Surrey Eagles.

Warriors' ship without a captain

Matt Anholt's unexpected departure from the West Kelowna Warriors has created more than a few holes within the BCHL club.

Anholt, who left for college a year earlier than expected, was not only one of the top two way centres in the league but was also the team's captain.

It's that latter role the Warriors have not yet filled.

The Warriors will go into the season without a captain.

Head coach Rylan Ferster says veterans Jordan Masters, Ryan Ivey and Adam Osczevski will begin the season as assistant captains.

As for not having a captain Ferster believes it's not a big deal.

"I think it's overblown," says Ferster of the role of a captain.

"Leadership comes from a group and you don't have to wear a letter to be a leader. Guys with letters on their jersey's basically talk to the ref."

He says having a good leadership group is what's most important.

"You have some people who are going to be leaders and some who are not."

The Warriors are also a young group with only seven returning veterans and 12 players 18 or younger.

Ferster says there's no time frame to name a captain and adds the player who will eventually wear the "C" will not necessarily come from the group wearing the "As"

Meantime, for the 3rd straight year the Warriors and the 15 other BCHL teams will open the regular season at the Bauer Showcase Series in Chilliwack.

The three day series runs this Friday through Sunday.

The Warriors take on Coquitlam Friday night and Nanaimo Sunday afternoon.

Interior Division rivals Vernon take on Cowichan Valley Friday afternoon and Victoria Saturday afternoon while the Penticton Vees face off against Surrey Friday evening and Alberni Valley Saturday afternoon.

Salmon Arm drew Langley Friday afternoon and Surrey Sunday evening.

"I think it's awesome. I'm a big advocate of it," says Ferster of the Showcase event.

"It's great for the kids, they all get ramped up and it's great for colleges because they can come out and in two and half days see everyone in our league. I think it's awesome and Chilliwack does a wonderful job."

The Warriors will open up the home portion of their regular season next Friday night when they entertain the Vernon Vipers.

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