With just eight players returning from last year’s Canadian junior A championship team, head coach and GM Rylan Ferster has had a busy summer assembling the 2016-17 version of the West Kelowna Warriors.
One of the latest additions to the roster is 19-year-old defenseman Stephen Kleysen who the Warriors acquired last week from Winnipeg Blues of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
Picked up in exchange for future considerations, Kleysen split the 2015-16 season between the Blues and the Madison Capitols of the United States Hockey League.
Kelysen played 55 games last season scoring five goals and adding 25 assists.
“Stephen is a quality player and will be able to play quality minutes for us on the back end,” said Ferster.
Ferster will have 40 players to evaluate at the BCHL team’s 2016 training camp which begins Monday at Royal LePage Place.
The defending RBC Cup champs will play their first exhibition game Wednesday, Aug. 24 in Penticton against the Vees.
The Warriors first exhibition game at home will go next Friday, Aug 26 against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Veteran defenseman Nicholas Rutigliano will serve as the Warriors’ captain for the 2016-17 BCHL season.
The Warriors announced earlier this summer that the 20-year-old from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts would take over the post held last season by the
now-departed Kyle Marino.
“I’m extremely excited, and it’s a tremendous honour to be selected captain of the West Kelowna Warriors,” said Rutigliano. “I’ve learned so much from previous players and teammates on what it takes to lead a team, most notably our captain last year Kyle Marino. After winning a national championship ,the team is excited for another successful and great season.”
“Nick has all the qualities to be a great leader,” said coach and GM Rylan Fertser. “He carries himself like a pro on and off the ice.”
The 6-foot-1 Rutigliano had 24 points in 58 games for the Warriors last season.