Warriors come up just short

Friday's BCHL pre-season game at Royal LePage Place was nearly a carbon copy of a game two nights earlier, albeit in reverse.

Wednesday, the West Kelowna Warriors dominated the Penticton Vees with an older rookie lineup.

Friday against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, it was the visitors who were the dominant team, dressing a lineup loaded with players who will start the season with the club, while the Warriors again dressed a rookie lineup with only a few players expected to break camp with the BCHL club.

The result, a 2-1 Salmon Arm victory.

Despite holding a wide edge in offensive zone time and puck possession, the Silverbacks were not able to generate many quality chances and, when they did, the goaltending duo of Jayden Shull and Johnny Derrick came up big.

But, as with most early pre-season games, it was about seeing what the young players could do.

"They play really well, but I thought our guys battled really well," said head coach Brandon West.

"We had some young guys learning what this league is all about. We gave these guys another opportunity, especially the way they played Wednesday night, but I think the fatigue is setting in."

He said a lot of the young players learned what it takes physically to play at this level.

"A lot of those young guys are starting to learn how to get their strength and conditioning up to par, and I think tonight we got pushed around a little bit, but it wasn't for a lack of want.

"Those young guys just didn't have enough...but it was a good effort."

West had planned to trim a few players from the training camp roster Thursday, but decided to give everyone another look after the effort they gave Wednesday.

That could change Saturday, as a number of veterans are expected to finally make their pre-season debut when the Warriors and Silverbacks meet again in Salmon Arm.

The Warriors will play in Penticton Wednesday and Trail next Friday before dropping the curtain on the pre-season Saturday, Aug. 31 against the Smoke Eaters.


Warriors drop ex. opener

The Penticton Vees scored late in regulation against the run of the play to steal a 2-1 victory from the West Kelowna Warriors Wednesday in the first BCHL pre-season game for both teams.

Tied 1-1 with less than five minutes to play, the Vees won an offensive zone faceoff and worked the puck back to the blueline. A shot deflected to Thomas Stift who rifled the game winner behind a surprised Jayden Shull in the Warriors net.

Logan Gallagher off a deflection of a Penticton power play opened the scoring before Riley Sharun got the equalizer for the Warriors in the dying moments of the second period.

As important as the score, the game Wednesday was about getting a look at a lot of young faces playing their first game in the BC Hockey League.

A few players had brief auditions as affiliated players a year ago, but the vast majority on both sides of the ice were raw rookies looking for a handful of spots on their respective rosters.

However, the Warriors dressed an older lineup, with a vast majority 17 and 18, while the Vees skewed younger.

The age difference showed, as the Warriors dominated much of the game, forcing the Vees goaltending tandem to come up big time and again.

"I thought that was the most intense we played in the last three days. I was very impressed with every guy's effort," said head coach Brandon West.

"The things we worked on in practice for the first two days, we saw some execution, and positive signs in the game."

Only two players the club has committed to, twins David and Drew Vieten, saw action Wednesday, but they saw their ice time scaled back in the second and third to give the coaches a chance to see other players who may be on the cusp of making the team.

West said some of those players have earned a second chance to impress the coaches.

"They made it difficult for us. Some guys we maybe felt we were going to let go tomorrow morning, have earned another opportunity to get back in the line up."

West expects to trim the current roster of 40 down to about 35 before the team hosts Salmon Arm Friday night.

Veterans won't get into the line up Friday, but West does expect more players the team is committed to will get their first taste of pre season action.

Time to hit the ice

The days are getting shorter and the temperature is starting to drop and that can only mean one thing – it's time to play hockey.

The Vernon Vipers wrapped up their training camp today and new head coach Jason McKee is happy with what he saw.

“These guys have worked hard, they've showcased themselves well,” said McKee adding the hopefuls will take to the ice this evening to wrap up the training camp.

The BC Hockey League 2019-20 season starts next month and McKee said the Vipers will have some holes to fill heading in to the year.

“I think there was a pretty large core they relied on heavily last year that has graduated on so there is definitely an opportunity for returning guys to step in and play bigger roles and some of our young guys are going to have to step in and contribute right away. We have some good players here, some really good people,” said McKee who is entering his first year as the Vipers' bench boss and he coached Junior A and in the WHL before landing in the Okanagan.

Joining McKee on the bench will be Larry Draper and Eric Morrissette.

Nine years ago Draper worked with McKee in Spruce Grove where they battled the Vipers in back-to-back Doyle Cups. 

From there Draper held assistant coach and assistant GM roles with the Bonnyville Pontiacs and Drayton Valley Thunder.

Morrissette comes from a development background with more than 20 years of experience working with players from novice to the professional levels working most recently at the collegiate level as well as being the Skill Development Coach with the Spruce Grove Saints.

The Vipers will play their first exhibition game of the season Friday in Vernon.

Game time is 7 p.m.


Harrison gets Warriors C

The West Kelowna Warriors didn't waste any time identifying their leaders.

On the first day of training camp Monday, head coach Brandon West named three-quarters of the team's leadership group.

Defenceman Jake Harrison, who has returned to the club after a year in the United States Hockey League, has been installed as the club's captain for the 2019-2020 season.

Harrison is the last remaining holdover from the Warriors 2016 RBC Cup championship team.

Returning veterans Parm Dhaliwal and Lucas Cullen will serve as two of three three alternates.

West says he will wait to see which of the remaining hopefuls seizes a leadership opportunity before naming a third alternate.

Meantime, 40 players hit the ice Monday morning at Royal LePage Place as the Warriors opened camp ahead of its 14th BC Hockey League season.

Much of the focus of the first three days of camp, prior to Wednesday's pre-season opener, will be spent getting to know each other, more than on specific systems.

"We want to give everybody an opportunity to settle in, and get the summer rust off," said West.

"They have been doing individual skill work all summer, so we want to put them in a team atmosphere. We want to get the guys back into hockey mode."

It's also an opportunity to teach.

"We want to introduce our concepts and the way we want to play.

"It;s basic structure. We'll introduce some forechecks and d-zone coverage.

"How we want to play with the puck, and more importantly, how we want to play without the puck."

West will get a chance to see a lot of his younger players in game situations Wednesday when  the Warriors kick-off the exhibition season against the Penticton Vees at Royal LePage Place.

A few veterans may be sprinkled in Friday when the Salmon Arm Silverbacks come to town.

The Warriors will play six pre-season games before their home opener Friday, Sept. 6 against the Vernon Vipers.

Locked inside the Peach

The man is dedicated to his team. 

Penticton Vees president, general manager and head coach Fred Harbinson is locking himself inside the Peach on Okanagan Beach Tuesday.

He will not be leaving until 30 new season ticket memberships have been sold. 

Vees players along with staff and mascot HarVee will be on hand all afternoon long at the event beginning at 12 p.m.

Harbinson will remain “Peach-tained” inside the ice cream shop until the goal is reached. 

Fans are invited to come down and meet the team and join the drive to help coach Harbinson escape.

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