Celebrating a B.C. Hockey League championship in their hometown was a dream come true for both Brett Mennear and Jake Harrison.
Now the Warriors’ teammates are working on bringing something even more grandiose back to the fans of West Kelowna.
The Warriors are at the Western Canada Cup this week in Estevan, Sask., vying for one of two berths into the RBC Cup national junior A championship May 14 to 21 in Lloydminster.
Rylan Ferster’s club will close out the round robin portion of the five-team on Thursday afternoon against the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League’s Melfort Mustangs.
Like every one of his teammates, Mennear is thrilled to be still playing hockey in May and chasing yet another banner.
“It’s different and pretty cool to be playing at this time of year, especially after not even getting out of the Interior Division the last two years,” said Mennear, who moved to West Kelowna with his family eight years ago. “It’s great to be going to the rink when it’s nice outside. It’s really exciting for the guys to be in the running for (another title). The team is having a lot of fun right now.”
As for the attention the tournament is attracting in the small and friendly prairie city, Mennear said the atmosphere is second to none.
“The people are so nice and friendly here, and very accommodating, it’s really a well-run event,” added Mennear, who had three goals in West Kelowna’s first two games. “Hopefully we can make the most of it and get that trip (to Lloydminster).
“We just have to keep playing hard and keep things simple.”
Harrison, who grew up in West Kelowna, had never been to Saskatchewan before, but says he his thoroughly enjoying his first visit to the prairie province, especially considering the circumstances.
As for the unique format of the tournament—four round-robin games at one site, followed by a Page-style playoff system—Harrison said it all comes down to simply repeating what has already made the Warriors successful to date.
“It is different, we really haven’t experienced this yet as a group, but the guys are picking it up as we go,” said Harrison, the Warriors rookie of the year in 2015-16. “You don’t have any seven-game showdowns, now it’s just a one shot at at time. But once the puck drops, the games are no different. We just need to play our game.”
Warriors clinch playoff spot
The Warriors earned a spot in Saturday’s playoff round at the Western Canada Cup, defeating the Portage Terriers 3-2 in overtime on Tuesday.
Jonathan Desbiens scored the game winner at 2:23 of the extra period. The overtime win gives West Kelowna (2-1) five points at the tournament and secures them a top four finish in the round robin. Teams are awarded three points for a regulation win, two for an overtime win and one for an overtime loss.
The top two teams following playoffs will advance to the RBC Cup.
On Thursday, the Warriors will close out the round robin against the Melfort Mustangs.