Warriors host Vees in home opener

The West Kelowna Warriors have never had much success against arch rival Penticton Vees.

If the Warriors are serious about challenging the Vees for Interior Division supremacy in 2012-2013, that will have to change.

They get the opportunity to turn those fortunes around Friday night when the reigning RBC Cup Champion Vees invade Royal LePage Place in the Warriors home opener.

It's the first of seven meetings between the two clubs this season.

"Not only is it the home opener but we're playing the defending Royal Bank Cup champions, it's a rivalry of course and it's for first place," says Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster.

"There is a lot on the line and not only that but I think it's a good test for us to see where we are at."

The Warriors and Vees both come into the game with identical 2-0 records after each club swept their two games during the Showcase events in Chilliwack last weekend.

While it's only game three of a 56 game schedule, Ferster agrees Friday's game is an important one.

"It is (a big game). As I alluded to before they are the defending champions. They haven't lost yet this year," says Ferster.

"As far as we're concerned the championship still goes through them. For me it's a treat to play them. They're a good team, well coached and it's fun."

The Warriors will suit up Friday without 20-year-old defenceman Josh Monk who begins serving a three game suspension handed out at the end of the pre-season.

Ferster says the loss of Monk leaves a big hole along the blueline.

"For me, he is one of the top defencemen in the BC Hockey League. He plays on the power-play, he kills penalties, he'll play against other team's top lines. When you lose a top defenceman, it's hard," adds Ferster.

"I'm not trying to make excuses but losing someone like Josh Monk who is a four year veteran in this league, I have nothing but respect for him."

Ferster says Monk's absence will mean more minutes for veteran Matthew Berry and rookie Brett Zarazun.

The Warriors head into Friday's tilt with the top two offensive players in the league in leading scorer Brett McKinnon (2g-4a) and leading goal scorer Max French (4 goals) as well as the number two goaltender in Tyler Briggs (0.50 goals against average).

All three are 20-year-olds and each has led by example.

"That's kind of what they've done. I don't think it's anything genius our coaching staff has done to get them all on board. They just know and they're veterans. They want to win. We had a couple of brief meetings but they've just taken the ball and run with it. Credit to our veterans and our leaders," says Ferster.


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