Warriors ready to get season started
Sep 6, 2013 / 5:00 am
The West Kelowna Warriors have visions of championships dancing in their eyes.
The long road to making those dreams come true begins tonight (Friday) in Chilliwack when the Warriors open their 8th season in the BC Hockey League.
The Warriors join the other 15 teams in the BC Hockey League for the Bauer Showcase Event all weekend in Chilliwack.
West Kelowna will tackle the Surrey Eagles tonight at 7:30 and the Nanaimo Clippers Saturday afternoon at 3.
Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster says the start of any regular season is always an exciting time for coaches and players, however, with the added attention from hundreds of college and pro scouts, it's also a stressful time.
"We certainly don't want to put any pressure on the kids from a staff standpoint but they are going to put pressure on themselves," says Ferster.
"They see every college there and they are talking to guys after games. There is pressure because guys want to perform."
Ferster says there is also pressure on himself and the coaching staff coming into a new season.
"I think there is always pressure - there should be pressure," says Ferster.
"We want to be like I'm sure every other junior A team in Canada, we want to win the Royal Bank Cup."
Entering their eighth season the Warriors are still looking for their first championship of any sort, be it a regular season or playoff title.
Expectations are again high for a team that is coming of a second place finish in the Interior Conference a year ago.
They finished 2012-2013 just two points in back of the division champion Penticton Vees. It was their highest finish since finishing second to the same Vees in 2007-2008.
Ferster liked what he saw over training camp and the pre-season in general but says it will be a different team once everyone is healthy and playing together as a group.
"We never saw everybody together but pre-season was just that. There are certain things you like and then you kind of question your team again," says Ferster.
"It's pre-season for a reason. You're trying to get as quick a read as you can on people and the new personnel you brought in. I'll have a better indication after the weekend."
A year ago the Warriors jumped out of the gate quickly at the inaugural Showcase event in Chilliwack beating Salmon Arm (6-0) and Surrey (6-1).
Ferster says being able to handle to different atmosphere in Chilliwack a year ago should help this year as the Warriors again look for a quick start to the season.
The Warriors head into the season carrying three goaltenders, second year netminder Steven Myland, newly acquired Andy Desautels and rookie Tanner Burgardt.
Burgardt hasn't had a full week of practice under his belt as he tries to work himself into game shape after having his tonsils removed.
"We're not going to carry three so this isn't going to go on forever," says Ferster of the three goaltender situation.
"We'll have to make a decision sooner rather than later."
As it sits Ferster says Desautels will get the call Friday against Surrey and he's not sure what will happen Saturday.
He says Burgardt definitely won't play this weekend.
"It would be unfair to chuck him into things when you have two guys who have pretty much been going every day."
Castanet will be in Chilliwack and will offer up complete coverage of the Bauer Showcase event.
The Warriors will return home following the Showcase to prepare for their home opener Friday, Sept 13 against the Merritt Centennials.
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