Warriors not wild for Wild

The West Kelowna Warriors dropped their third in a row Saturday night, falling 4-2 to the reigning BCHL champion Wenatchee Wild before an announced crowd of 750 at Royal LePage Place.

The Warriors jumped out to 1-0 and 2-1 leads, but it was a pair of power play goals in the final period that proved to be the Warriors downfall.

Mason Richey and Chase Dubois scored for the Warriors on the evening.

Warriors head coach Geoff Grimwood said the club played well in spurts, but agreed the team didn't put enough pucks to the net.

"We still have a ,long way to go and we have a lot of work to do," said Grimwood.

"But, I like our work ethic. I think the guys have really worked hard. I think we have to get more cohesive as a group...if we do that, we'll be fine.

Richey opened the scoring six minutes into the game when he used his speed to create a two-on-one, and tapped home Willie Reim's centering pass for his second of the campaign.

With the score tied at 1-1 early in the second, Dubois found himself in the right spot in front of the Wenatchee net. A shot bounced off a Wild defender right to Dubois, who deposited the puck into the open side for his first.

Wenatchee tied it again midway through the period, when Lucas Sowder's wrist shot from just inside the blueline deflected off a Warrior and behind Hayden Missler, who was making his first start of the season.

The Warriors took just two penalties in the game, both in the third, and both found the back of the net.

On the first, Sowder drove to the net from the corner, and slid a cross-crease pass to Jacob Modry, who tucked the puck into the open side.

Christophe Tellier sealed it with a little more than two minutes left, as he circled to the front of the net and beat Missler to the far side.

Once again, the Warriors played one man under the 20-man limit. If everyone remains healthy, the Warriors should be able to dress a full roster when they travel to Chilliwack for the BCHL Showcase, when Matt Kowalski returns to the lineup after serving a four game suspension issued following the final game last season.

"it's one of those things," said Grimwood of the short bench.

"On one hand it's a good opportunity for guys, but on the other hand our lack of depth has hurt us."

However, Grimwood refused to blame the short bench on the club's inability to generate much in the way of scoring chances in the final period the past two nights.

He said the players are trying to be too cute right now, suggesting they need a 'shot first' mentality.

"Everything that's wrong right now we can address in practice.

"We just have to work on the things we need to work on, and we'll get there."

The Warriors, 1-3 on the season, face off against 4-0 Prince George Thursday afternoon and 1-2 Nanaimo Friday afternoon at the Showcase in Chilliwack.

Vees cruise to first win

The Penticton Vees bounced back in a big win after dropping their season opener seven nights ago, earning a convincing road win against the Cowichan Valley Capitals.

Drew Elser led the way with two goals while David Silye had three points, and the Vees led 40-20 in shots en route to a 4-2 win.

The 18-year-old Elser scored his first career B.C. Hockey League goal 26 seconds into the second period. Second-year forward Ryan Sandelin scored on the power play about eight minutes later to double Penticton's lead.

Cowichan got one back just past the midway point of the second, before Elser scored his second goal of the period with 17 seconds to go in the frame.

Silye scored his first goal as a Vee early in the third, and the Capitals added a late goal to reach the final score.

A game loaded with penalties, emotions began to boil over for the Capitals shortly after the Vees stretched their lead to 4-1. 

Cowichan captain Vincent Milette was whistled for tripping shortly after a high stick was missed against the Vees, and Capitals bench boss Mike Vandekamp was ejected for barraging the officials afterwards.

A Capitals defender was given a 10-minute misconduct minutes later after taking a tripping penalty — one of eight misconducts or game misconducts handed to the home team. The Vees, meanwhile, took two misconducts, and were shorthanded six times compared to the Capitals nine times.

Jack Lafontaine also bounced back in goal after taking the loss in the team's opening game, stopping 18 of 20 shots.

Penticton now sits 1-1 through two games, and will head to Victoria on Saturday to face the Grizzlies in one of their toughest matchups on paper this season.

Victoria, also 1-1, is led by 17-year-old captain Alex Newhook who's projected to be a first round NHL draft pick next spring. Like the Vees, the Grizzlies are reigning division champions from a season ago.

Snakes sting Warriors

The undermanned West Kelowna Warriors dropped their second in a row Friday night, falling 4-3 to the Vernon Vipers at Kal Tire Place.

The Warriors dressed just 18 players for Friday's tilt with their division rival. two under the 20-player limit.

Matt Kowalski remains out of the lineup after serving the third game of a four game suspension handed out from a blow to the head penalty taken in the club's final playoff game last season. Mike Hardman missed the game after being hit in the face with a puck last Saturday, as did forward Brandon Dent.

Willie Reim, who missed the opening game of the season while also serving a suspension at the end of last season, scored twice for the Warriors. Defenceman Declan Douthard had the other, his first in the BC Hockey League.

Josh Latta with two, Michael Young and Nicholas Wildgoose scored for the Vipers.

After a scoreless first, Latta got the Vipers on the board with a pair of goals a little more than three minutes apart early in the first.

Twice in the period, the Warriors were able to claw their way back to within a goal,  but, on both occasions, the Vipers answered to restore the two-goal lead.

The backbreaker, a goal from Wildgoose in the final minute of the middle frame.

The Vipers dominated much of the final period, holding the Warriors to just four shots over the final 20 minutes. Reim's second of the night with just 10 seconds left was too little, too late.

Aidan Hosein turned away 19 of the 22 shots he faced, while Connor Hopkins, making his third straight start, faced 42 shots in the loss.

Both teams are back in action Saturday. The Warriors will entertain reigning BCHL champion Wenatchee while the Vipers welcome the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Miller brings full resume

Colton Davies

Penticton Vees blueliner James Miller had eight goals in parts of two B.C Hockey League seasons entering this year, but the hard-shooting defender wasted almost no time adding to that in the new campaign.

Miller scored the team's first goal of the year just 32 seconds into their season opener in Langley, a game that ended as a 5-2 loss.

"Started off with a good faceoff win, got the puck in and wrapped around to me. It was just a quick shot that had eyes and snuck in," he told Castanet on Vees View. "Not the nicest goal I've scored but they all count, but also would like to have gotten the win."

Few B.C. Hockey League players have credentials that the 20-year-old Vees assistant captain enters this new season with.

Now in his third year with the club, Miller has experience at the NCAA Division I level (where he spent the first half of the 2017-18 season), was part of a BCHL-title-winning Vees team two seasons ago which played in the RBC Cup, and also was a member of last year's Vees squad that finished in first in the BCHL standings.

Now a veteran in Penticton, Miller said his leadership role is the biggest change this season. 

"Other than that, just playing my game. Leading on and off the ice. We got a young team here with lots of skill, just maybe need a little direction. Getting to know our systems."

He said there's many similarities with this year's group as teams in the past two years, which have combined for 81 wins in 116 regular season games.

"Lots of skill, we have lots of size, lots of speed. Every year Fred (Harbinson) brings guys in that play our hockey, our style, so not a whole lot has changed. We're a very skilled, fast and physical team."

And does Miller think he'll keep up the goal-per-game average he has through one contest?

"I think we would all like that," he said after a laugh. "Realistically, probably not gunna happen. Just gunna look to contribute in any area that I can."

Warriors split weekend

The West Kelowna Warriors split a pair of season-opening weekend games with the Trail Smoke Eaters.

The Smokies bounced back from Friday's loss to win 6-4 at home Saturday night, splitting the weekend home-and-home series.

Willie Reim’s return to the Warriors' lineup wasn’t enough to manage a sweep.

The Smoke Eaters came in strong and were first on the board when a fanned-on shot from Mack Byers caught Warriors goaltender Connor Hopkins off guard. Seven minutes later, the Warriors came back with a pair of goals from Willie Reim and Sam Anderson only 21 seconds apart.

West Kelowna struggled with penalties.

It started with the equalizer from Trevor Zins, which went right through a crowd and past Hopkins to tie the game up going into the second period, which was mainly spent on special teams for both clubs.

The Smoke Eaters capitalized again on the powerplay with a goal from Michael Hodge. 

With the score 3-2 going into the third, Warriors head coach Geoff Grimwood needed a quick goal early to set the tempo, and a Kyle Chernenkoff penalty for the Smoke Eaters was just what the doctor ordered.

Chase Dubois was able to connect with his first of the season to tie the game at three.

But only eight seconds later, Kent Johnson stormed the Warriors goal and regained the lead for Trail.

At the 16-minute mark, the Smoke Eaters added to their lead with yet another powerplay goal courtesy of defenceman Jeremy Smith.

The Warriors rallied late in the game with a Parm Dhaliwal tally, but it was too late.

Hayden Rowan finished off the game with an insurance marker, to pick up the win.

Things went from bad to worse late in the game when the Warriors had the extra attacker out and a deflection from a point shot hit forward Mike Hardman in the face. The 19 year old required stitches. His status for next week is uncertain. 

Next week, the Warriors face the Vernon Vipers on the road and return home to Saturday, when they host the Wenatchee Wild.

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