After falling to the Vernon Vipers in the first round of the playoffs last season, the West Kelowna Warriors are back on the ice for training camp looking to improve on last year’s success.
“It’s an exciting day. It’s day one of training camp, so we have 35 young men here that are trying to make the team and we’re pretty excited about the potential we have out there," said Chris Laurie, president of the West Kelowna Warriors.
"Right now it’s just seeing who had a strong offseason, and who’s out there building chemistry with who and how they click together."
“They’re going to work hard to really make an impression on our group, and at the end of the weekend we will potentially need to make some cuts. Ultimately the exhibition season starts next weekend, so we’ll have preseason games on the eighth and ninth and continuing on and building a cohesive unit for the September 22 home opener.”
Laurie tells Castanet his scouting staff had a busy offseason and that they’re excited to bring in some new talent.
“Last year we had a good graduating group that went on to play Division 1 hockey, guys like Ben McDonald that’s drafted by the Seattle Kraken. He’s at Harvard this year. And Jaiden Moriello has moved on, he was our leading scorer, so we have a few holes to fill, but we’re confident in this group that they’ll take the next step and come in and help us to get to where we want to be,” said Laurie.
He said the team has some "high-end" recruits they are excited about.
"Jack Pridham is one for example and Callum Hughes — high end players that we expect to be impact players immediately. I think our hockey staff’s done a good job of scouting in the offseason and really recruiting for a strong season here this year.”
After the West Kelowna wildfire took out homes and evacuated thousands of residents in the community, defenceman Dylan Brooks says he’s grateful to get back out on the ice to perform in front of fans.
"It really puts things into perspective when you can finally get back out here and you can kind of see what’s going on. I was in Chilliwack, so I was just seeing everything from a distance," said Brooks.
"But it’s nice to see everything’s kind of calming down now. It’s just nice to be able to be back at the rink, be back with the guys, kind of see that the community’s all come together and it’s all getting a little bit better day by day.”
Season tickets are still available for the 2023-24 year, which will see the Warriors play in 54 games from September until the end of March.
For one day only, on Sept. 7, 20 per cent of all season ticket sales will go towards the Central Okanagan Fire Relief Fund.
The West Kelowna Warriors will be back in action for their first game of the regular season on Sept. 22 at home against the Penticton Vees, starting at 7 p.m.