Six days off during the heat of the B.C. Hockey League playoffs may not have been the ideal scenario for the West Kelowna Warriors.
Still, head coach and GM Rylan Ferster expects his club to make best of the extended layoff when the Warriors return to action tonight at home to the Chilliwack Chiefs.
Face off at Royal LePage Place is 7 p.m.
“We’re certainly happy to be where we are, but six days is a long time between games,” said Ferster, whose team’s last game was a 4-1 home-ice loss Thursday to Nanaimo. “You try to keep your team sharp the best you can, to not lose that edge.
“I’m sure both teams will be playing desperate,” he added. “You have these one-game showdowns and every one of them is so important.”
A win is crucial for the Warriors who are 1-1 in the third round series involving the three division champs. The Chiefs are at least as desperate as West Kelowna after falling to 3-2 on Monday to the Nanaimo Clippers.
The Chiefs sit at 1-2 and may not be able afford another loss, while the Clippers sit in the driver’s seat at 2-1.
The first two teams to three victories will meet in the BCHL final.
West Kelowna defeated the Chiefs 5-1 a week ago Tuesday in Chilliwack to open the third round, but Ferster doesn’t put any stock into what happened in the past.
“They’re a really good team that’s here for a reason,” Ferster said of the Chiefs. “I’d say that game (5-1) was closer than the score. They have great goaltending, their defence is big and they have high-end forwards that remind me of Penticton’s. As always, they’ll be a test for us.”
Regardless of tonight’s outcome, Ferster is pleased the Warriors are still in contention in April, with a chance to qualify for their first ever league final.
“It’s obviously really nice to still be playing,” said Fertser. “I’ve said it before, I’m really happy for Mark (Cheyne), he’s a great owner, he does so many good things for the kids, for the community and the program.
“We’ve had really good fan support, too, so it’s nice to see them getting to watch some extra hockey.”
The Warriors will be in Nanaimo Friday night to take on the Clippers. Depending on the outcome of this week’s action, further games will be played on April 10 and 12 to determine the two finalists.