Warriors ready for start of 2nd season


It's what every athlete in every sport at every level plays for - a shot at a championship.

The West Kelowna Warriors start on that road tonight (Friday) when they open the 2013 BC Hockey League playoffs at Royal LePage Place against the Merritt Centennials.

The Warriors were the hottest team in the league after the new year going 17-2-2-2 since January 1.

They ended the year with four straight wins and that, coupled with a Merritt squad that lost four straight at the end of the season, allowed the Warriors to pass Merritt and into second spot in the tight Interior Division.

The Warriors were led down the stretch by captain Max French who led the club with eight goals and eight assists over the last dozen games. Those totals include four game winning goals and an overtime goal.

French, who turned 21 last October, is in his final year of junior eligibility.

He says he's not quite ready to call it a career just yet.

"It's a very emotional time right now. Finishing up four years, it doesn't feel like the end. The regular season is over but playoffs are left," says French.

"We're on a roll right now and I think that's a big part of it. I don't feel like the season's done - I feel like we have a lot of hockey left is us and I think we're going to go a long way."

The Warriors had a near perfect record against the Centennials this season going 6-0-1-0. Six of those games were decided by one goal including three that needed overtime.

Despite their regular season record, French is quick to point out playoffs are a whole new season.

"We've had a good regular season record but playoffs are a different ball game. We have to be ready.".

"They're a good team, they work hard so we're going to come out and match that. It's going to be a good series. I'm looking forward to it," says the Captain.

The Warriors outscored the Centennials 24-15 over the seven games. Tyler Briggs saw action in five of those games going 4-0-1-0 while Tyler Steel went the distance in all seven for the Centennials going 0-4-1-2.

Defenceman Josh Monk led the way offensively with two goals and six assists including an overtime winner. Marcus Basara had six goals and an assist while Shawn Hochhausen had a goal and six helpers.

Regan Soquila was the top Merritt sniper in the series with two goals and three assists.

Neither team had a ton of success with the man advantage over the seven games.

The Warriors were 6-32 (18.75%) on the power-play, however, three of those six came in the final meeting, a 6-2 Warriors win. The Centennials were a paltry 2-34 (5.88%) with the man advantage.

The series opens with games Friday and Saturday at Royal LePage Place before shifting to Merritt Monday and Tuesday for games three and four.

Should the series go beyond the minimum, game five would be played Thursday, March 21 with game seven if necessary Sunday, March 24. All games begin at 7 p.m.

The Warriors will host a Tailgate Party in the courtyard in front of the arena from 5:30 until game time Friday.

There will be a BBQ, beverage garden and live music.

The first 500 fans through the doors will receive a 'Blackout' glow in the dark t-shirt. Glow sticks will also be handed out.

Fans are being asked to wear black for the game.

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