Coach and GM sends props to Warriors’ owner

Rylan Ferster said the Warriors' 11-season run in West Kelowna wouldn't have been possible without Mark Cheyne's commitment

Warriors head coach and GM Rylan Ferster says owner Mark Cheyne should be credited for making junior A hockey accessible to West Kelowna fans.

Regardless of the fate that awaits the West Kelowna Warriors at season’s end, head coach and GM Rylan Ferster believes Mark Cheyne is owed a debt of gratitude.

Ferster said both the BCHL club and the city have been fortunate to have an owner who possesses Cheyne’s integrity and his passion for the game.

“At the end of the day, I think everyone in West Kelowna needs to shake Mark Cheyne’s hand,” Ferster said. “It’s a wonderful place to play, for an organization and a good guy who has a lot of respect in the BCHL.

“It’s tremendous what he’s done for years for the community, he’s done it at considerable cost and he’s never asked for anything back,” Ferster added. “He’s a great owner who has really been a part of the rest of us on this team for all those years.”

Last week, news broke during the BCHL meetings that Cheyne had come to an agreement in principle to transfer ownership to a group who plans to relocate the club to North Delta’s Sungod Arena.

The move is subject to approval by the league’s franchise committee and, according to league president John Grisdale, nothing is etched in stone and much work remains ahead before a deal can be struck.

The Warriors have been a big money loser since moving to West Kelowna from Langley in 2006, with Cheyne bearing the brunt of those shortfalls since assuming sole ownership of the franchise in 2009.

Cheyne had been hoping last season’s run by the Warriors to a Canadian junior A title would lighten the financial burden, but such hasn’t been the case.

For Ferster’s part, the head coach and GM still has a hockey team to coach for at least another six weeks, so hasn’t been spending a lot of time pondering the future.

What Ferster does know is that he’s grateful to have had the opportunity to work for a reputable team and owner.

“It’s going to be sad, but I’m celebrating in a way, fortunate that I’ve had a job working for a great guy for six years, and living in a pretty nice place at the same time,” he said.

“Nothing has really sunk in yet, we’re just going along on a day-to-day basis trying to win hockey games.

Fact of the matter is, you can’t really think ahead too far or you miss what’s right in front of you. Maybe when the year is over, this will knock me in the head but right now it’s business as usual.”

Ferster and the Warriors (22-20-1-0) will take their business on the road this weekend for three games—Friday in Victoria, Saturday in Powell River and Sunday in Chilliwack.