Warriors, Vees renew rivalry

Ask Rylan Ferster about playoff hockey and he'll tell you three things.

You need good luck, good health and good goaltending.

The West Kelowna Warriors head coach says you need at least two of those each night during the playoffs and believes, they got that for the most part while dispatching the Merritt Centennials in five games in the Interior Division semi-final.

Ferster will also tell you that as long as the Penticton Vees remain standing, they are the champions - the team to beat after last year's RBC Cup championship.

The Warriors will need all three intangibles and then some as they get set to face the Vees in the Interior Division final beginning tonight (Friday) at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Game two in the series goes Saturday night before the series shifts to Royal LePage Place for games three and four Monday and Tuesday.

While the Warriors were eliminating Merritt in five the Vees, who stumbled down the stretch, sent the Salmon Arm Silverbacks packing in four.

It's been well documented the Warriors have not had a lot of success against Penticton in regular season or playoff meetings.

The Vees won both post-season meetings 4-0 in 2007-2008 and 4-2 in in 2009-2010. The Warriors have yet to win a post season game in Penticton.

This past regular season, West Kelowna won just one of seven games between the two teams - that win, a 5-2 victory in Penticton December 28, snapped a 16 game losing streak against the Vees.

Two of the losses came in overtime.

Vees coach Fred Harbinson doesn't put a lot of stock into those records heading into this series.

"Every year it's different players, there's been different coaches involved. I just know for us we're just going to worry about tomorrow (Friday) night. I'd rather be on this side of it than the other, no question about it but we know that can turn in a hurry," says Harbinson.

"We have a lot of pride and a lot of tradition in this room and even though we have a lot of new guys we have a way about ourselves that we felt we've built here - we want to continue that tradition of trying to be a team that expects to win."

The two teams last met Jan. 26 in Penticton, a 2-1 Vees win remembered more for what happened after the game than during it.

Both benches emptied at the end of the game as a full scale melee ensued.

The Warriors were assessed 21 games worth of suspensions after the dust settled while the Vees were handed seven games in total.

Despite that fracas and two other late or post game incidents in the prior two meetings, Harbinson says he doesn't expect that type of animosity to spill into this series.

"Everybody wants to make it out that there are all these fireworks between the two teams - but there have only been three fights in the seven games in our series. I think you have two pretty darn good hockey clubs that are going to play the game and play it hard and play it fast. It should be exciting hockey but I don't think either team is really built to have a big brawl," says Harbinson.

"The stuff that happened at the end of last game was, I think, a little overblown. Ten years ago it wouldn't have even been talked about."

Harbinson says winning titles is more important than settling scores.

"We enjoyed hoisting a bunch of trophies last year and we know that if we have any idea of doing that again we have to get by this series. That's a little more important than settling any scores."

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