Rylan Fertser and his West Kelowna Warriors were eliminated Tuesday from the BCHL playoffs. -Image: Douglas Farrow

Abrupt end to Warriors’ BCHL season

West Kelowna ousted from playoffs in four games by the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Coming home down two games to none, the hill was just too steep to climb for the West Kelowna Warriors.

Beset with the absence of several key players, Rylan Ferster’s club didn’t offer much resistance over the final two games en route being swept from the BCHL playoffs by the Trail Smoke Eaters.

On Tuesday at Royal LePage Place, the Warriors’ saw their 2017-18 come to an abrupt end with a 6-3 loss to the Smoke Eaters in Game 4 of the Interior Division quarterfinals.

The Warriors were without their top three defenseman Tuesday night—Jake Harrison, Stephen Kleysen and Tyler Jutting—along with forwards Ryan Steele and Willie Reim. To add insult to injury, forward Matt Kowalski left the game in the first period and didn’t return.

“You never want to use injuries as an excuse, but it didn’t make things any easier,” said Ferster, completing his seventh season as the club’s coach and GM. “Teams expect to have one or two guys out, but when you have six out, it sure makes it hard to win.”

The Warriors had a chance get the upper hand in the series with a win in Game 1 in Trail, but came up short 6-5 in overtime. West Kelowna never really challenged the Smoke Eaters again in the best-of-seven.

As early as it was in the series, Ferster pointed to a late first-period penalty call on Jake Harrison in Game 1—with West Kelowna leading 3-1—as a pivotal moment in the series.

“For me, that was the turning point,” said Ferster. “As early as it was in the series, it was an unfortunate call. We were feeling pretty good when that went against us. I thought if we could get through that penalty kill, we’d be in good shape. But they scored, then scored three more quick ones and the game totally changed. We blinked and we’re down by three.”

Still, as disappointed as Ferster was in the season’s conclusion, he gave credit where credit was due.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Trail, they’re a good team and they played well against us,” Ferster said. “I want to congratulate them on the win and wish them the best of luck.”

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