Garrett James                                Captain Jared Marino (middle) and the West Kelowna Warriors will visit the Vernon Vipers Saturday in BCHL action.

Garrett James Captain Jared Marino (middle) and the West Kelowna Warriors will visit the Vernon Vipers Saturday in BCHL action.

Okanagan rivals battling for division lead

West Kelowna in Vernon Saturday, teams share top spot in the BCHL’s Interior Division

More than pride will be on the line when the West Kelowna Warriors and Vernon Vipers meet for the first time this season Saturday night at Kal Tire Place.

Heading into the weekend, the Okanagan rivals share top spot in the BCHL’s Interior Division.

“It’s obviously a big game, Vernon’s a big rival, they’re right with us and they always have a good team,” said Warriors captain Jared Marino. “It’s a tough building to play in, so we’ll need to get off to a good start.

“We’re going to battle these guys a lot over the next while, so we need to send a message to them that we’re here to compete.”

The Warriors (11-5-0) and Vipers (10-4-2) will meet six times this season, including four times in the next month, with each game sure to carry weight in the division standings.

But the valley rivals aren’t the only teams with designs on first place in the Interior. Trail and Wenatchee are just a point off the pace, while the Penticton Vees are only two in arrears of West Kelowna and Vernon.

While the Warriors like their position through 16 games of the regular season, Marino said there’s plenty of work yet to be done.

“We’re playing pretty well, but obviously it’s still early, there’s a long way to go,” he said. “We want to be a top team in this league and that means not settling for less than what we’re capable of. That comes with showing up every day and we have to do that in a division as tough as ours.”

The Warriors will see another division rival on Sunday as they visit the Merritt Centennials in a 2 p.m. matinee at Nicola Valley Arena.

West Kelowna’s next home action is Friday, Nov. 3 against Penticton.

Stevenson commits to UNH…

Warriors’ forward Chase Stevenson has committed to the University of New Hampshire Wildcats for 2019-20 collegiate hockey season.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound West Kelowna native has played in 52 career games with the Warriors, scoring 13 goals and adding 28 assists.

“I couldn’t be more excited to commit to UNH,” said Stevenson, 18. “After going on my official visit and touring the school, I knew UNH was the spot for me.”

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