With four skilled and experienced defencemen returning to the roster, the back end could well be the West Kelowna Warriors’ strength heading into 2017-18 B.C. Hockey League season.
A trio of 20-year-olds—Stephen Kleysen, Michael Ryan and Tyler Jutting—will be joined by West Kelowna product Jake Harrison, 18, in providing stability and depth on the Warriors’ defensive corps.
“I think we’re building from a good position,” Warriors’ head coach and GM Rylan Ferster said of his defense. “I like our back end, those four guys can all move the puck, so it’s a good place to start.”
The Warriors kicked off their 2017 edition of training camp this week with 40 players on the roster.
Up front, the Warriors will look to a handful of key returnees, including Chase Dubois, Parm Dhaliwal, Matt Campese, Chase Stevenson and new captain Jared Marino.
The Warriors have also added Matt Kowalski, acquired from the Nanaimo Clippers in the offseason.
Newcomers to watch at forward include a pair of imports in R.J. Murphy (Massachusetts) and Willie Reim (Minnesota).
“We’re going to be young at forward this season,” said Ferster. “We defended well last season, but we had trouble scoring goals at times. At this point, from what I’ve seen, I’d like to think we have a chance to score more. I think the potential is there.”
Coming out of retirement to return in goal for his final season of junior hockey is Nick Amundrud, 19, who played in seven games with the Warriors last season. Kelowna native Cole Demers, 18, will also be back for his second season with West Kelowna.
The Warriors continue their preseason schedule Friday night when they host the Merritt Centennials. Face off is 7 p.m.
West Kelowna opens the 2017-18 regular season with a home-and-home set against the Trail Smoke Eaters, on Sept. 8 and 9.
To see the Warriors schedule, go to bchl.ca