Netminder Briggs getting comfortable as Warriors top back stop

West Kelowna will meet Trail on Friday in third straight game between the two BCHL teams

West Kelowna Warriors goalie Tyler Briggs will lead his team into action against the Trail Smoke Eaters Friday

West Kelowna Warriors goalie Tyler Briggs will lead his team into action against the Trail Smoke Eaters Friday

Tyler Briggs has only played five games with the Warriors, but he’s already building chemistry with his West Kelowna teammates.

The team’s top goalie said he’s been surprised how easy it’s been to fit in with his new squad.

“It’s a lot easier than I thought it would’ve been because I didn’t know anyone out here. But everybody has made me feel (at) home,” said Briggs.

The Warriors acquired Briggs in return for defencemen Michael King and Izaak Berglund in a January trade deadline deal with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Lloydminister Bobcats.

Briggs posted a .914 save percentage and 1.98 goals against average last season and earned the title of AJHL best goaltender.

He carried that momentum into this season with two early wins, but has gone 1-0-0-2 since then while also sitting out two games with an injury.

Briggs said he and his teammates have been putting in the effort, but haven’t managed to steal the close ones.

“We just have to keep playing how we are and it’s a matter of showing up for the full 60 minutes.

“We haven’t had one bad game this year, really…I don’t know what it is with those close games, just the bounces won’t go our way. I’m not going to make excuses for it, but that’s just the way it’s been going for us.”

The 20-year-old netminder said he’s happy to shake off the cobwebs early in the season, instead of when the games have a higher importance.

“It happened to my team at the end of last season—we ended up getting swept first round. It was rather unfortunate.”

An early highlight for Briggs is the friendship he’s built with fellow goaltender, Garrett Rockafellow. That relationship has also helped the teammates improve each other’s game.

“We often trade advice. Whenever we see something wrong with each other’s game…we’re open enough to say ‘this is what I’m noticing when you’re in (a certain) scenario.’

“We room together on all the road trips; we have a great friendship.”

Next season Briggs will join NCAA Division 1 Clarkson University in New York.

He said this season is a good opportunity to sharpen his skills while helping the Warriors fight for a championship title.

“It’s my last season (with West Kelowna) so I’d love nothing more than to win a championship. We have the team to do it—everything just has to come together.”

Briggs was between the pipes last Friday when West Kelowna dominated the Trail Smoke Eaters 9-2.

He was also in net when Trail earned revenge last Tuesday with a 3-2 overtime victory at Cominco Arena.

The Warriors aim to utilize home ice advantage as the teams meet for the third straight time Friday at Royal LePage Place. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.

Saturday the Warriors will look to improve upon their 3-2-0-2 standing when they travel to Vernon to face-off against the Vipers.

Kelowna Capital News