Warriors set for challenge

This is the time of year hockey players dream of.

It's playoff time in the BC Hockey League, as seven of the eight first round playoff series begin tonight. The first round kicked off Thursday with Wenatchee opening with a 4-0 win over the Merritt Centennials.

The West Kelowna Warriors, fresh off what can only be described as an up and down season, face the Trail Smoke Eaters in their best-of-seven first round series.

"I don't think it ever gets old," said Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster of the post season.

"Playoffs are so much fun. You play the whole year to have an opportunity to be in the playoffs."

The Warriors barely kept their heads above water in finishing fifth in the tough Interior Division with a 28-27-2-1 record over 58 games. The Smokies, who took four of six against the Warriors in the regular season, were fourth, 10 points clear of the Warriors.

"They're a good team, they're well coached, they have some high-end offence, their goaltending has played great."

The Smoke Eaters are led offensively by the big three of Kale Howarth, Levi Glasman and Ross Armour. The three combined for eight goals and 19 points in the six games against the Warriors during the regular season.

However, Ferster says Trail is more than just a one line team.

"Their firepower, when they get rolling, is pretty scary.

We've seen them six times. They can hurt you. They're very dangerous off the rush."

The Warriors offence has been rolling of late with the return of several key forwards from the injured list.

But, Ferster admitted playoffs are always a different beast where goals are always hard to come by.

"If playoffs are true to what they usually are, the ice gets smaller, the battles get bigger. So many times in playoffs, nothing happens. There are so many shifts where nothing happens," said Ferster.

"I think it's important players understand that. You have to be prepared to play a grinding type game, win a low scoring game and really, do whatever it takes."

The best-of-seven series opens with games one and two in Trail tonight and tomorrow.

The series then shifts to Royal LePage Place for games three and four Monday and Tuesday.

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