Warriors hit playoffs on winning note

The West Kelowna Warriors enter the BC Hockey League playoffs on a four game winning streak.

The Warriors concluded the 58-game regular season Saturday with an easy 8-3 win over the Interior Division cellar dwelling Trail Smoke Eaters.

Despite the win the Warriors finish second in the interior after the Penticton Vees edged Salmon Arm 3-2 in overtime Saturday. Both teams finished with 78 points, however, the Vees earn their third straight division title by virtue of more wins (36 to 35).

David Pope led the way offensively with two goals and an assist, giving him a team high 27 goals on the season.

Tyson Dallman, Liam Blackburn, Matt Anholt, Carl Hesler, Kyler Hope and Jason Cotton also scored for the Warriors. Seb Lloyd chipped in with three assists while Ben Tegtmeyer added a pair of helpers.

The Warriors put the game away with four unanswered goals in the first and scored four more in the second to build up a commanding 8-1 lead.

While he was happy with the 14 goals scored over the last two games Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster says the team has to tighten up defensively after surrendering seven to the Smoke Eaters.

"We scored some goals we certainly we are going to have to shore up in our own end a little bit," says Ferster.

"We gave up four last night and three tonight and I think if you're giving up any more than three in any playoff game you're probably not going to be winning too many. You can't be expecting to score five and six in the playoffs so the defensive side of the game will be a focus for us."

The first and only goal for the Warriors was to make the playoffs and Ferster says he's excited they are finally here.

"Real excited. It will be a long day here tomorrow preparing and getting ready. It will be a short turnaround  too," says Ferster.

"We play on Tuesday. We're excited to get it going. Obviously we are going to play a great team but we knew we were going to be doing that whether we were playing Merritt or whether we were playing Vernon."

The Warriors and Vipers met seven times during the regular season with Vernon holding a 4-2 edge with one game ending in a tie.

The Vipers came away with one win in three meetings between the two teams at Royal LePage Place while the Warriors lost two in Vernon in regulation time and once in overtime.

Despite finishing second in goals scored over the course of the regular season in the BCHL the Warriors were outscored by the Vipers 25-20 in their head to head meetings.

Ferster doesn't expect injured defencemen Ryan Ivey and Taki Pantziris back for the start of the series with Vernon while forward Jordan Masters is possible.

The Vipers are a physical team and Ferster expects a physical series from his northern rival.

"We certainly know who we're playing. We're playing a team that is big and physical," says Ferster,.

"They are built for this, they are built for a championship and they're hosting a championship. I'm sure they will be chomping at the bit to get going on Tuesday night."

The opening two games of the opening round best of seven series will be played at Royal LePage Place Tuesday and Wednesday.

The series then shifts to Vernon for games three and four Friday and Saturday.


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