Warriors coach resigns

Rylan Ferster has stepped down as head coach of the BC Hockey League's West Kelowna Warriors.

He made the move Saturday, just two days before the start of training camp.

Ferster leaves after seven seasons behind the bench, leading the club to a BCHL title and RBC Cup championship in 2016.

He was the longest serving, and winningest coach in franchise history, posting a 210-150-35 regular season record. He guided the team to a 31-32-1 playoff mark.

Ferster was hired as head coach in July of 2011 after one season with the Revelstoke Grizzlies in the Junior B KIJHL.

Prior to that, Ferster held head coaching positions with the BCHL Victoria Salsa and Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

Assistant coach Geoff Grimwood will assume the head coaching duties on an interim basis.

Grimwood was hired six weeks ago to replace Shae Naka, who stepped down to accept a job with the Pursuit of Excellence program.

He spent the past three seasons as head coach and GM of the Kindersley Klippers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

Grimwood will be the fourth head coach in the 12 year history of the club.

Ferster's departure is the latest in a series of employees and volunteers who have stepped down from their positions since the end of last season.

The Warriors are in the midst of training camp at Royal LePage Place.

They open the pre season at Royal LePage Place against Penticton Wednesday and Salmon Arm Friday.


Warriors sale official

Nineteen months after the West Kelowna Warriors nearly left town for greener pastures, the club has officially been sold.

The BC Hockey League team said Friday the club is now under the ownership of KD Sports Ltd. They reached an agreement to purchase the club from Mark Cheyne and the Vision Sports Group earlier this month.

Kim Dobranski and a "minority silent partner" will now oversee team operations.

The West Kelowna Warriors Hockey Society has also been established, which will allow the community to be more involved.

Dobranski urges the business community and general public to get involved with the club by purchasing season tickets, sponsorships, or by volunteering on game nights.

“I am very excited to work towards developing a sustainable business model where the community can participate and take ownership in this team,” said Dobranski.

“Our division and the BCHL is the top league to play and enjoy junior hockey in Canada and we are very fortunate to have this caliber of hockey in our back yard. Communities thrive socially and economically when they adopt a sports team and teams such as the Warriors also help build a sense of identity for a community.

“This organization is not about any one person, it’s about the community it resides in, the players who come here and represent us, many of them local kids, and our collective role in sport producing good citizens for our communities. This franchise existed long before, and it will continue to exist long after, continuing the good work the BCHL does in our communities.”

The franchise, which started in Langley in 1994, is entering its 25th year in the BCHL. It relocated from Langley to the Okanagan prior to the 2006-2007 season.

The Warriors open the new season with back-to-back games with Trail Sept. 7 in Trail and Sept. 8 at Royal LePage Place.

The Warriors nearly moved to Delta in the winter of 2017, but a deal to relocate the club fell through.

A campaign began shortly thereafter to keep the club in West Kelowna.

Help to grow a Warrior

Here's a chance for you to make a difference in a young man's life.

The BC Hockey League's West Kelowna Warriors are looking for people willing to welcome players into their homes for the upcoming hockey season.

Host families receive a monthly allowance, season tickets, VIP treatment at the home opener and other perks but, as one longtime billet says, it's so much more than that.

"It's such a positive experience," says Mary Sollows, who has welcomed nine players into her home over the past 12 years.

"They become part of your family. You get to see these young kids develop into fine young men.

"It's neat to see these kids grow, and become young adults to prosper, and know you may have played some small part."

Players will spend up to eight months with a host family, and Sollows says over that time, they become a big part of the family. They're with you more than their parents over that time.

And, she says the bond and friendship with those players, and their families, last well beyond their time with the team.

"It's neat to see them come back and visit you. That you're still part of their family and you're still involved in their lives in some way," she says.

It's preferable if billet families live on the Westside.

If you;re interested in hosting a player for the upcoming season, contact Allie Ramchuk at [email protected]


Vees add seasoned d-man

As the Penticton Vees continue to assemble their roster ahead of training camp this month, the team announced a third acquisition in as many days on Wednesday evening.

The Vees brought in 18-year-old defenseman Mason Snell from the Powell River Kings — a trade that went through four teams.

The Vees started by acquiring Tanner Hopps from the Victoria Grizzlies for futures, then flipped him to the Drayton Valley Thunder in the Alberta Junior League for Trevor Ayre.

Ayre was then dealt to the Langley Rivermen for Jayden Lee, who was sent by Vees to Powell River in exchange for Snell.

From Clarington, Ont., Snell spent last season in the Ontario Junior Hockey League first with the Whitby Fury before being traded to the Wellington Dukes. Earlier this offseason, on June 29, the Dukes had traded him to Powell River.

In total, Snell had six goals, 20 points and 88 penalty minutes in 43 games. He added one goal and 13 points in 25 playoff games as the Dukes won the OJHL championship. They advanced to the RBC Cup where Snell had two assists in six games, as they advanced to the finals before falling to the host team, the Chilliwack Chiefs.

Snell also suited up for Team Canada East at the World Junior A Challenge in Truro, N.S.

Having played 31 total playoff games last year and four in a major tournament, Vees head coach and general manager Fred Harbinson said Snell is sought after for his experience.

“He’s committed to a great program in Penn State, has national championship experience as well as playing on the International stage. He will be a big addition to our program," Harbinson said.

One player on the other side of the ice from Snell during the RBC Cup finals was forward Ryan Miotto, who the Vees traded for on Tuesday.

Penticton also dealt away goalie Nolan Hildebrand on Monday for futures, after picking up two goalies in June — Jack LaFontaine and Derek Krall.

Vees add vet in 3-team trade

The Penticton Vees have acquired a 19-year-old forward with an RBC Cup to his name as part of a deal involving three teams, the team announced on Tuesday.

Ryan Miotto comes to Penticton from the Bonnyville Pontiacs in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

The Vees had sent 19-year-old Ocean Weisblatt to the Portage Terriers in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League in exchange for 20-year-old Ty Enns, before flipping Enns to Bonnyville for Miotto.

Last season, Miotto won the RBC Cup as a member of the tournament's host team, the Chilliwack Chiefs, before being traded to Bonnyville on June 15.

The native of Thorold, Ont. had nine goals and 21 points in 57 B.C. Hockey League games last year. He scored two goals in five playoff games and was pointless in six RBC Cup games.

Miotto is committed to play NCAA Division I hockey at Canisius College in the 2019-20 season.

The trade is the second announced by the Vees in as many days, after the team shipped veteran goalie Nolan Hildebrand to the AJHL's Okotoks Oilers on Monday for future considerations.

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