Quick look-see at 2010-11Westside Warrior and key rivals

Newly appointed captain Alex Grieve will lead the Westside Warriors into battle for the 2010-11 season. - Marissa Baecker/Contributor
Newly appointed captain Alex Grieve will lead the Westside Warriors into battle for the 2010-11 season.
— image credit: Marissa Baecker/Contributor

The Westside Warriors kick off the new B.C. Hockey League campaign Friday night at home to the Penticton Vees. Face-off at Royal LePage Place is 7 p.m.

Here’s a preview of the 2010-11 edition of the Warriors and their Okanagan rivals.

Westside Warriors

Key Returnees: F Alex Grieve (26-24-50), F Kyle Singleton (25-19-44), F Grayson Downing (18-18), D Peter McIntosh (0-4-4) and G Cam Gorchynski (4-4, 2.90 GAA).

Rookie Sensations: Brayden Sherbinin and Michael King are a pair of 17-year-old defencemen who coach Darren Yopyk expects to make an immediate impact on the Warriors’ blue line.

Sherbinin, a Kelowna native who played last season with the Nelson Leafs, is a dynamic skater who has an offensive bent to his game. The 6-foot-5 King, who played major midget in Prince George, brings both size and a cerebral approach to the position. Up front, Travis Blanleil, 16, Brett McKinnon, 18, and Shawn Hochhausen, 18, will supply rookie depth. In goal, Kevin Boyle joins the Warriors from junior A in New Jersey.

Strengths: With the acquisitions of junior A veterans Tom Kroshus (Camrose Kodiaks) and Matt Cronin (Drumheller Dragons), and rookies Sherbinin and King, Westside’s defensive corps could be among the best in the league. At forward, the Warriors lost their top two scorers in Trevor Bailey and Cam Reid, but should have three solid lines to provide ample offence. The most dangerous unit should feature newly-anointed captain Grieve, Singleton and Quinn Gould, all 20-year-olds.

“Our defensive corps is exceptional, and we look like we have pretty good depth up front,” said Warriors head coach and GM Darrren Yopyk. “We’re going to have to be a physical group that works extremely hard to be successful. I think we’ll be able to move the puck well and we’ll combine that with some pretty good team speed. Now that I’ve had a full season in the league, I’ll have a better idea of what to expect.”

Vernon Vipers

Key Returnees: F Dylan Walchuk (19-28-47), Bryce Kakoske (13-28-41), Dave Robinson (15-10-25), D Adam Thompson (5-20-25), D Stevie Weinstein (4-18-22), G Blake Voth (1.79 GAA, 92.90 save percentage).

Rookie Sensations: Power forward Aaron Hadley scored at a point-a-game clip, and added 94 penalty minutes, as a 16-year-old with the KIJHL Beaver Valley Nitehawks. F Trevor Fitzgerald surpassed all expectations last season, leading the expansion North Okanagan Knights with 67 points in 49 games. The Vernon product also practised with the Snakes and played in the Royal Bank Cup championships.

Strengths: With seven returnees from their RBC Cup national championship squad, the Snakes have a leadership core that knows what it takes to win. Combine that with some of the best prospects to be found in North America, and the expert tutelage of coaches Mark Ferner and Jason Williamson, and Vernon will once again be a contender.

Penticton Vees

Key Returnees: F Joey Holka (28-23-51), F Logan Johnston (14-17-31), D Joey Laleggia (13-52-65), F Garrett Milan (30-30-60), F Stefan Nicholishen (2-5-7), D Derik Johnson (1-13-14), G Joel Rumpel (19-3-0, two shutouts, .920 save percentage).

Rookie Sensations: As a junior with St. Francis in 2009, Joey Benik set a Minnesota state high school record with 63 goals (previously 62). Including the playoffs, he scored 65 goals and 102 points that season. F James Polk scored 27 goals and 48 points in 55 prep games with Shattuck-St.Mary’s high school last season. Polk’s teammate, F Bradley Robbins scored 21 goals and 54 points in 55 games. D Troy Stecher, can handle the puck and tallied four goals and 31 points with the Great Vancouver Canadians in the B.C. Major Midget League last season.

Strengths: There is a focus on building an identity during the month of September. As that happens, coach/GM Fred Harbinson expects the Vees to be a hard-working club that will be difficult to play against.

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