The West Kelowna Warriors begin their quest for the Okanagan Cup when they take on the Vernon Vipers on Friday night.
The Warriors come into this season with a new-look roster featuring a few highly touted newcomers and some prominent returning players.
Beginning with the returning players upfront, John Evans, Carter Wilkie, Elan Bar Lev Wise and Deegan Mofford will look to build off of last season. On the back end, the returning players include Nick Ardanaz, Corey McCann, Skyler Cameron and Ryan Novecosky. The Warriors will also have starting goaltender Johnny Derrick back between the pipes.
The new recruits were much of the buzz this summer, adding a number of skilled players to the fold. In June, It started with Tyson Jugnauth signing with the Warriors after playing some games as a 15-year-old last season. Then, the flood gates opened with signing of Sacred Heart NCAA commit Marcus Joughin. The skilled forward is expected to centre a line with Josh Evans.
Forwards Connor Joyce, Felix Trudeau later joined the mix and Pat Lawn was added as a much-needed addition on the back end. The additions were made via trade, which included power forwards Zach Brooks and Jarrett Penner.
On the back end, the Warriors acquired the 6’6 Kyle Pow, followed by the signing of 2003 born blue line prospect Charles Alexis Legault. Finally, the Warriors concluded the Brandon Dent trade from early last season by acquiring veteran netminder Zach Bennett to solidify the Warriors goaltending.
Then, from the result of NCAA Ivy league play being suspended, the Warriors were able to add Harvard forward Wyllum Deveaux and Cornell forward Matthew Stienburg. Both Deveaux and Stienburg grew up close friends in Nova Scotia. With the conclusion of camp the Warriors would announce the commitments of Carter Schmidt, Riley Sharun, Brennan Nelson, Damon Jugnauth and Jay Thomson.
This weekend the Warriors will kick off the Okanagan Cup Tournament versus the Vernon Vipers, a team the Warriors figured out late last year winning the season series 4-2. Players like John Evans had notable games scoring his first career hattrick versus the Vipers and even set a Warriors record for most shorthanded goals in a single season after a game versus the Vipers.
The Vipers on paper have some notable returnees of their own featuring blue liners Hunter Donohue and Trey Taylor and Warriors fans will not forget the Vipers have forward Max Bulawka upfront. Head Coach Jason McKee made a couple additions in the offseason as well as adding Bulawka’s close friend and Kelowna native Kjell Kjemhus and former Quebec Major Junior League forward Jeremy Rainville.
Warriors Head Coach Simon Ferguson said his team is more than excited to get the Okanagan Cup Tournament underway,
“The players are ready. They’ve been waiting six months to play some competitive games. We cannot wait to challenge ourselves against three very good hockey teams,” said Ferguson.
This evening’s game will be broadcasted on both HockeyTV and the Warriors Mixlr Network. Puck drops at 7 p.m. from Royal LePage Place in Vernon. A reminder that no fans will be allowed in the building. HockeyTV has a sale that ends this evening where you get $80 off a subscription. Use coupon code BCHLWARRIORS20 at hockeytv.com/subscriptions.