Rylan Ferster led the Warriors to their only BCHL title and RBC Cup title in 2016. -Image: Douglas Farrow

Fertser steps down as Warriors’ coach and GM

Rylan Ferster quits after seven season with the BC Hockey League team

After seven seasons with the West Kelowna Warriors, Rylan Fertser has resigned as head coach and GM of the B.C. Hockey League club.

The Warriors made the announcement on Tuesday, the day after the start of the club’s 2018 training camp.

Associate head coach and assistant GM Geoff Grimwood will serve as the interim coach and GM, while assistant coach Matt Miller and goaltending coach Chad Carder remain with the team.

Ferster, a Prince Albert, SK native, joined the Warriors for the 2011-12 season, guiding the team to six straight postseason berths.

The highlight came in 2016 when the Warriors won the club’s first Interior Division Championship, the BCHL’s Fred Page Cup, the Western Canada Cup and the RBC Cup National Junior A Championship.

Coaching in a total of 406 regular season games from 2011-2018 with the Warriors, Ferster compiled a very strong 210-150-35 record, finishing second in the regular season Interior Division race three times.

“There’s so many people to thank over my seven seasons in West Kelowna,” Ferster said in a statement. “I’d like to thank the Cheyne family for bringing me on in 2011 and being great people to work under. I’d also like to thank Kim Dobranski for keeping the team in West Kelowna and working as hard as he has to give a chance for hockey to stay in a great community like West Kelowna.”

RELATED: West Kelowna Warriors BCHL hockey team sold

Ferster has been a part of many successes in the Junior A ranks through the years, beginning in the Kootenay’s with the Trail Smoke Eaters at the beginning of the 1999 season before shifting ways to Vancouver Island and taking over at the helm of the Victoria Grizzlies and eventually to the Shuswap to join the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. After a year in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League with the Revelstoke Grizzlies and coaching the Team Canada West at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, the veteran coach transitioned into the Okanagan in West Kelowna.

“The coaching staff I’ve had over the years, billet families and fans have been incredibly supportive and wish the team all the best in the future,” continued Ferster. “I leave knowing I joined the program in great shape and am leaving with a strong group of talented players.”

“It’s difficult to see an experienced and highly respected coach like Rylan go,” stated Warriors owner Kim Dobranski, “He meant a lot to the people in this community and we’d like to thank him for everything he has done with the program and always fielding a competitive and entertaining team in one of Canada’s toughest Junior A divisions.”

Grimwood, 37, takes the helm behind the bench on an interim basis after being named associate head coach and Assistant General Manager in early July. The Victoria native spent the last three seasons as the bench boss with the Kindersley Klippers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), helping them to a 79-82-8-5 record over the last three campaigns including playoff berths in each of his three seasons in Kindersley and playing into the quarterfinal round twice.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity from Mr. Dobranski to step into the head coach and GM job on an interim basis,” said Grimwood. “The most important thing to me was having the support and encouragement of Rylan to take the job. I am disappointed not to be able to work with Rylan but am excited to build on the culture, success and tradition he has built in West Kelowna.”

Season tickets are now on sale for the upcoming 2018-19 season, which is set to begin Friday, Sept. 7 before heading to Royal LePage Place to host the Trail Smoke Eaters in their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 8.

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