The Westside Warriors may be looking for a measure of vengeance tonight at Royal LePage Place when they host the Merritt Centennials.
The Warriors have yet to beat Merritt this season, losing all five meetings between the two teams. The five Merritt wins make up one-quarter of Merritt’s 20 wins so far this year.
But with the regular season winding down and the playoffs quickly approaching, Warriors coach Darren Yopyk is more concerned with how his team is playing.
“It’s out there, it’s been mentioned,” Yopyk said of the teams struggles against the Centennials this year. “But we want to focus on what we are doing. We feel we have a good enough team that if we play the way we can, we can beat anybody in the league.”
Beating Merritt though, has been a tough task. The Warriors last victory over the Cents was a 5-1 win in pre-season. Since that win the Cents have rattled off five straight, outscoring Westside 22-11 in the process.
“It’s another game for us,” said Yopyk. “Merritt has had our number but I think we’re playing pretty well right now. It’s a matter of us doing the little things right and hopefully we can come out on top.”
Tonight’s game (7 p.m. Royal LePage Place) marks the beginning of the final stretch drive towards the BCHL playoffs. The Warriors have seven games remaining in the regular season, all but one of which are against Interior Conference opponents that are below them in the standings
Westside heads north this weekend for two games against Quesnel and one in Prince George, before playing in Penticton a week from tonight. The Warriors close the season at home Feb. 18 and 19 against Quesnel and Prince George.
The Millionaires and Spruce Kings are currently separated by three points in the race for the final playoff spot in the Interior.
“They are battling for their playoff lives so they are going to be hungry,” said Yopyk.
The Warriors (28-19-2-4) are five points behind fourth place Trail and can fall no lower than fifth. If the season were to end today they would be playing Trail in the first round of the playoffs.