Warriors and Vipers set to battle in the post season again

Warriors ready for Vipers

The West Kelowna Warriors hope lightning will strike twice during their opening round BC Hockey League series with the Vernon Vipers.

A year ago, for the first time in franchise history, the Warriors dispatched the Vipers in a playoff series, winning their opening round matchup in six games.

But, as coaches will tell you, that was then and this is now.

Warriors head coach Simon Ferguson will tell you that the series means just as much as the five games the teams played during this past regular season.

Not very much.

The Warriors took four of those five regular season meetings, however three of those wins were by identical 4-3 scores, two decided in a shootout.

"They are a team that hangs around. They hang around right to the very end," said Ferguson.

"They wait for opportunities so we'll have to outwork them."

The Vipers are a far different team from the one the Warriors took out in the playoffs a year ago and also made some significant changes in season, one of the most significant the addition of former Western Hockey League forward Thomas Tien.

The 18-year-old has eight goals and 12 assists in 32 games with the Vipers.

"They are a team that's played very well. They are a physical team, they play hard and they stick to a structure. We'll have to be ready to play.

"They are a chip and chase team, they like to get pucks deep, they like to hit. They are going to try and run us out of the building so we need to use our speed, use our energy and manage the puck properly."

The Vipers have been hot down the stretch, making a push up the standings winning seven of their last 10. They allowed just one goal in four of their last five games.

The Warriors on the other hand have been hot and cold, losing four straight, winning four, and losing six straight before closing the season with back-to-back wins to secure third place.

Injuries have hampered the Warriors over the second half of the season, losing forward Felix Caron as well as top-four defencemen Nolan Hayes and over the second half as well as captain Aiden Reeves and Dylan Brooks for stretches.

Reeves, who has missed the last seven games could be ready to go when the series opens.

"We'll find out at game time," said Ferguson.

"He's been working hard to get back at it. You can tell on his face he's been wanting to play the whole time but we have to take the right approach with him and we'll see what happens."

The opening two games of the series are set for Royal LePage Place Friday and Saturday before shifting to Vernon for games three and four next Tuesday and Wednesday.

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