By Don Richmond
I serve as the chaplain of the West Kelowna Warriors, and have since the day they moved here from Langley.
I am writing to remember the wonderful run that has been the Warriors’ story.
While the team may be moving, I am confident of this: They will live on in the hearts of the Warriors family.
In the fall of 2006, junior hockey came to the Westside. The Westside Warriors, (in 2012 renamed the West Kelowna Warriors) have entertained their loyal fans for the past 11 years.
And now it looks like it will all end in the spring of 2017.
Truthfully, it is an empty crushing blow, mostly because of the relationships that have developed over those years.
This team brought dedicated hockey people together, and along with that has become a distinct family.
These Warriors, like any hockey club, have thrilled their fans and at times frustrated them but ‘my oh my’, the thrills!
These thrills have been legendary.
The team was generally successful on the ice, making the playoffs almost every year.
Then came the dream 2015-16 season; when 35 playoff games ended in a Canadian National Junior A Championship.
I can clearly recall standing by the glass along with three adults as the clock ticked down against the Chilliwack Chiefs in the BCHL Finals, all holding hands and jumping in unison, while glorious insanity reigned all over the arena that evening.
I recall the team taking me on a 27 day playoff road trip, heading to the Western Canada Cup in Estevan, SK and after winning that tournament, on to the Royal Bank Cup in Lloydminster, AB. We left West Kelowna on April 27 and finally came home on May 24.
During that crazy-awesome year I held 10 chapels in the regular season, (every two weeks) and five more in the playoff run.
While the Warriors chapels were optional, every player came to chapel.
It simply was the Warrior Way, with captain Kyle Marino leading the charge.
I am so grateful for Mark and Janelle Cheyne, who have been fabulous owners; for head coach Rylan Ferster, who will always be a close friend; for hockey operations director Alex Draper, who I love like a brother; and for all of the great staff and dedicated fans, volunteers and billet families. We are Warriors.
One thing I am sure of; we will end well, with grit, heart and purpose, both player and fan.
The end won’t be a whimper, but a bang.
With all my heart,
-Don Richmond, Chaplain, West Kelowna Warriors 2006-2017