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BC Hockey League News

Warriors turn tables on Vipers

A day after the Vernon Vipers spoiled West Kelowna's home opener - the Warriors did the same in Vernon Saturday.

Andy Desautels turned aside all 30 shots he faced Saturday leading the Warriors past the Vipers 4-0. The win avenges Vernon's 4-1 win at Royal LePage Place Friday night.

The goose egg was the first for Desautels this season and the third in his BCHL career.

Jordan Masters provided all the offence Desautels would need.

Masters staked the Warriors to a 2-0 lead with his first two goals of the season 2:28 apart late in the first period.

Masters' second of the period came with a man advantage.

Liam Blackburn and Jason Cotton assisted on both.

Brett Mennear upped the lead to 3-0 before Kyler Hope scored his second of the young season on a five-on-three power-play.

The Warriors went 2 for 7 on the power-play while holding the Vipers off the sheet on their eight opportunities.

West Kelowna head to Coquitlam Tuesday for their second meeting with the Express in less than two weeks.

The Warriors dumped Coquitlam 6-2 last Friday when they opened the regular season at the Showcase in Chilliwack.

Their next home game is Saturday when the Merritt Centennials make their first visit to Royal LePage Place.


Vipers spoil Warriors opener

The Vernon Vipers scored twice in the opening five minutes then held on for a 4-1 win over the West Kelowna Warriors before more than 1,200 fans at the Royal LePage Place.

It was the home opener for the Warriors who opened the season with two straight wins last weekend at the Showcase in Chilliwack.

Mackenzie Bauer with his first of two on the night at 1:07 and Mitchell Oliver three-and-a-half minutes later gave the Vipers the quick 2-0 lead.

Both goals were scored from the slot high to netminder Andy Desautels' blocker side.

Desautels settled down after that making several spectacular pad saves and at least two sprawling grabs to keep the Warriors in it the rest of the way.

Liam Blackburn buried a rebound for his fifth of the season on a late first period power-play to cut the deficit but the Warriors were unable to beat Danny Todosychuk the rest of the way.

Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster didn't think opening night jitters played into the slow start.

"I don't know, the one was a bad bounce that went off a skate to their guy so that was unfortunate," says Ferster.

"But, slice it any way you want we only scored one goal tonight. We have to score more than one goal if we think we are going to win some games and not give up 41 shots."

Ferster says the team didn't go for a full 60 minutes...a learning experience for some players in their first year in the BC Hockey League.

"I thought in spurts we played okay. We certainly didn't play well for 60 minutes and I think it was an eye opener for a lot of guys in that room tonight just what the Interior Division will be like and how the little details matter for 60 minutes."

After a scoreless second period in which the Vipers outshot West Kelowna 20-5 the Vipers put the game out of reach in the third.

Ryley Booth with the Vipers first power-play goal of the season with just one second left in a Warriors penalty gave Vernon a 3-1 lead early in the period before Bauer salted it away with his second on the night into an empty net.

Friday's game also marked the first BCHL meeting between Warriors defenceman Mac Ferner and his dad Mark Ferner who took the job as head coach of the Vipers earlier in the week.

"Once the puck drops you don't really notice it and certainly I thought he did some real good things out there," says coach Mark Ferner.

"He's a defensive defenceman who I think has a bit of upside but we have some guys that can scoot and I know they put a little bit of pressure on their defence. I thought he played well and I'm heading out to try and find him and congratulate him on a good game."

Mac Fernon wasn't around to see the final whistle blow.

He was ejected from the game eight minutes into the third period along with teammate Rylan Yaremko and Vernon's Anthony Latina following a melee inside the Vipers end.

A few players from both benches appeared to come onto the ice for a line change but made it back to the bench before any further penalties were handed out.

"I thought we did some good things at times and other times I thought we were on our heels," says Ferner of the Vipers effort Friday.

"You give West Kelowna credit, they just kept coming, they're a good hockey team over there. Our goalie was real good."

Both teams went 1-6 with the man advantage while the Vipers outshot West Kelowna 41-36.

The Warriors honoured firefighters, first responders and Emergency Social Services from West Kelowna, Peachland and Kelowna prior to the game for their efforts during the Smith Creek Fire back in July.

West Kelowna Fire Chief, Wayne Schnitzler was presented with a Warriors jerseys signed by grateful members of the community and two pictures commemorating the actions of the firefighters.

The same two teams meet Saturday night in Vernon for the Vipers home opener.

Warriors to honour fire fighters

The West Kelowna Warriors will pay tribute to fire fighters and first responders Friday night when they kick off the home portion of their BCHL schedule against the Vernon Vipers.

The special night comes just two months after fire fighters from the Okanagan, BC Wildfire Management Branch and across the country fought the Smith Creek Wildfire in West Kelowna.

"It was such an easy decision. You look at the impact it had on the community and of course the Warriors are the biggest eyes on the community once hockey season starts," says Director of Business Operations, Alex Draper.

"It was a real easy decision because these guys and gals need to have respect paid to them and I couldn't think of a better venue because of the sheer size and the number of people we can get out to honour them."

Along with the fire fighters and first responders, the Warriors are also inviting those people impacted by the Smith Creek Fire to come to the game as well.

"All evacuees, all they have to do is show ID...it's best they go to the ticket office early because they do have to have a ticket but the ticket will be comped if they are an evacuee."

The evening will include a special presentation to West Kelowna Fire Chief, Wayne Schnitzler and an emotional video tribute Draper says brought a tear to his eyes.

Friday's game features a Vernon team that should have an emotional boost after Mark Ferner was hired as the team's new head coach replacing Jason Williamson who stepped down just two weeks before the start of the regular season.

Ferner left his position as assistant coach with the WHL's Kamloops Blazers to take the Vipers job.

The Vipers come into Friday's game taking three of a possible four points from last weekend's Showcase in Chilliwack.

Vernon shutout Cowichan Valley 2-0 before falling 5-4 in overtime to Victoria.

The Warriors meantime are looking to build on a perfect opening weekend.

West Kelowna dumped Coquitlam 6-2 before edging out Nanaimo 7-6 in a wild shootout.

Sophomore forwards Liam Blackburn and Jason Cotton both got off to fast starts.

Blackburn had four goals and an assist over the opening two games while Cotton has three goals and a pair of assists.

Rookie Jonathan Desbiens also had a five point weekend with a goal and four helpers.

Game time Friday is 7 p.m.

The Vipers and Warriors conclude a home-and-home weekend Saturday in the Vipers home opener at 6 p.m. at Kal Tire Place.


Commish gets new deal

The British Columbia Hockey League is pleased to announce commissioner John Grisdale, executive director Trevor Alto and communications director Brent Mutis have each signed three-year contract extensions with the league.

Grisdale started with the BCHL in the 2003-04 campaign and this contract will see him through his 15th year as commissioner. Alto was hired in 2012 while Mutis began in 2010.

“As we continue to develop our brand and prove ourselves as a worthy development option for players and their families, it’s important we keep our team together at the league office,” says Grisdale.

“With the core group intact, we can continue our focus on strengthening each member club financially and strategically positioning the BCHL to take advantage of the all the opportunities in front of it.”

Over the last five seasons under Grisdale, the BCHL has averaged 126 college commitments per season for players which translates into about $2 million in scholarship value to families.

The league has also won four RBC Cup national championships during Grisdale’s tenure as well as the inaugural Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup title in 2013.

Alto has taken charge of the league’s discipline and officiating program and will again work with officiating directors Derek Adams and Brad Lazarowich, who will continue in their BCHL roles this season.

The league’s discipline appeals committee, consisting of Doug Deacon, Don Tonks, Bruce Abbott and Guy Lanki, remains intact as well.

Mutis has managed all media relations and league publications since joining the BCHL and has developed a sizable presence in the social media landscape for the league. He will continue his mandate of maximizing team and player exposure to scouts and media.

In other league office news, Rob
Lambie has joined on as director of hockey operations and Henrietta Woo will continue in her role as office administrator.

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.

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