Warriors set to go camping

It feels like we haven't had a proper summer, and already, it's hockey season.

Training camps for teams across the BC Hockey League are set to open up over the next several days.

The West Kelowna Warriors hit the ice at Royal LePage Place Monday morning for two quick days of practice and intra-squad games before the exhibition season begins in earnest Wednesday, when the Penticton Vees venture north.

Training camps are not like they once were when they were gruelling six to 10 day events as players worked to get themselves in shape.

"They've changed," said Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster.

"They are a little more intimate. You only have about 40 guys in, and you have a pretty good handle on who's making your team. There aren't the spots up for grabs like there were in the old days."

The Warriors will only have about 10 spots available for newcomers this season. Seven forwards, four defencemen and goaltender Cole Demers are back from last year's team.

Plus, the Warriors added 18-year-old forward Matt Kowalski from Salmon Arm in a deal that sent overage forward Logan Mostat to the Silverbacks.

The keys to the offensive machine will likely be handed over to second year forwards Parm Dhaliwal, Chase Stevenson and Chase Dubois.

All three had some levels of success during their rookie seasons.

Fairly or not, Ferster says all three played a lot of minutes, and a lot of important minutes for the team a year ago when the Warriors were thin up front.

The key for them, he says, is what steps they have taken from the end of last season to now.

"They were put in situations a lot of times where a lot was asked of them.

"And, there will be pressure on them again this year, but that's hockey.  In hindsight, those guys should come in with a lot of confidence."

The Warriors will play six pre-season games, three at home and three on the road, beginning Wednesday when Penticton come to Royal LePage Place.

They'll open up the regular season Sept. 8 in Trail, before hosting the same Smoke Eaters the following night in their home opener.


Concussion test, no brainer

The BC Hockey League will be utilizing a new concussion testing and management solution for the upcoming season.

The system, developed by HeadCheck Health, is said to simplify the way concussion protocols are implemented and executed, using a web-based reporting dashboard, enabling administrators to monitor concussion protocol compliance.

Company founder and CEO Harrison Brown, says the system allows teams to assess concussions more easily, enabling them to make data-driven decisions to benefit each player in the BCHL.

Each of the 17 BCHL member teams will use the system to perform baseline, post-injury and pre-return-to-play concussion tests. Medical professionals can also use the system to access test results to allow for more informed decisions before clearing concussed players to return to the ice.

“Player safety is of utmost importance to the BCHL,” said league commissioner John Grisdale,

“Our athletic therapists will now have instant access to a reliable concussion assessment tool during practices and games in order to make appropriate sideline medical decisions. The HeadCheck app will also assist the league with monitoring and tracking league-wide concussion protocol compliance.”


French inks deal in Texas

Former West Kelowna Warriors captain Max French has found a new home deep in the heart of Texas.

French, who wrapped up a four year collegiate career at Bentley University, has inked a contract with the Texas Stars.

The Stars are the American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars.

It's the 24-year-old's second professional contract.

He signed a pro tryout contract with the Vancouver Canucks affiliate in Utica following the conclusion of his senior year, but didn't see any game action.

French spent five seasons with the Warriors, scoring 67 goals and 149 points in 238 games.

He's third in the team's all time Games played, goals and points list.

2009-2013, playing in 193 regular season games while amassing 67 goals and 149 points to go along with 238 penalty minutes.

In his four years at Bentley, French had 67 goals and 143 points in 138 games. He was captain of the team his senior year, and led the club in scoring.

Terms and length of the contract were not disclosed.


Streaking to Showcase

The West Kelowna Warriors will put a six-game winning streak on the line when they take part in the annual Bauer BC Hockey League Showcase.

The event is taking place for the sixth straight year in Chilliwack, Sept. 20-24.

Each of the league franchises plays twice during the five-day Showcase, under the watchful eye of hundreds of college and NHL scouts.

According to the league, the event continues to get more successful year over year, as more players receive scholarships to U.S. colleges each season.

The Warriors, unbeaten over the past three Showcase events, will kick things off at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 20 against the Coquitlam Express, before facing the Cowichan Valley Capitals the next afternoon at 4 p.m.

West Kelowna beat the Express 5-3 at last year's event, and edged Cowichan 2-1 in 2015.

Overall, the Warriors are 8-2 over the first five events.

Click here for the entire Showcase schedule.

The remainder of the BCHL schedule will be released shortly.

Season tickets for the upcoming 2017-2018 Warriors season are now available, along with news of the brand-new Booster Club!

The Warriors are also in need of billet families for the season. For more information on how to become a billet family, contact Nicole Ellis at 250-878-9110 or email her at nicole@westkelownawarriors.ca. 

Schultz shares cup stage

Former West Kelowna Warriors and West Kelowna native Justin Schultz has accomplished what not many have been able to.

Get his name on the Stanley Cup two years in a row.

Schultz and the Pittsburgh Penguins did just that Sunday night, clinching back-to-back titles with a 2-0 win over another former Warrior, Colton Sissons and the Nashville Predators.

The Penguins become the first team since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings to hoist Lord Stanley in back-to-back seasons and are the first team in the salary cap era to do so.

Schultz played a prominent role, scoring what proved to be the game winner in game five's 6-0 win, and drawing the primary assist on Sunday's cup-clinching goal, scored with less than two minutes left in regulation time.

Schultz played parts of three seasons in West Kelowna from 2006 to 2009 before heading off to the University of Wisconsin for a successful three seasons with the Badgers. Schultz scored 25 goals and 91 points in 107 career regular season games with the Warriors, including 4 goals and 11 points in 17 playoff games.

Schultz and his mom, Kim, were interviewed by Hockey Night in Canada’s David Amber after the Penguins Game #6 Stanley Cup victory

The entire Warriors organization would like to congratulate Justin on back-to-back Stanley Cup victories. It is unknown for now if Schultz will be making another tour with Lord Stanley as he did last season.

2017-18 Warriors season tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at the Warriors office or by calling Kim or Alex at (250) 769-7051.

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