RBC Cup champs had all the ingredients

West Kelowna Warriors endured demanding playoff run with a blend of heart, skill and team chemistry

The Warriors celebrate Rylan Yaremko's empty net goal to seal the RBC Cup title.

Mark Cheyne has seen more than a few good West Kelowna Warriors teams take to the ice in his nine seasons as owner of the B.C. Hockey League club.

Clearly, none did a more competent job of combining desire, skill, chemistry, belief and good fortune than the 2015-16 edition of the Warriors.

After a long and often arduous playoff road—35 games in just 79 days—the BCHL champs concluded a dream season Sunday in Lloydminster, Alta./Sask. with a 4-0 victory over the host Bobcats in the RBC Cup final.

While there were many keys to his club’s playoff run to the national championship, Cheyne said the character of the players is a pretty good place to start.

“We’ve had so many good teams in the past, good players, and good people, but I’ve never seen a group closer than this…there were no cliques, zero,” said Cheyne. “Everybody got along and they played for each other. Our leadership was amazing, too. Our older guys did an unbelievable job, and there was never any quit in them.

“And the comments we heard about how well the guys conducted themselves (in Saskatchewan),” he added. “It’s just a great group of kids.”

With the team’s core group in place—Kyle Marino, Kylar Hope, Brett Mennear, Jonathan Desbiens and Rylan Yaremko among them—head coach and GM Rylan Ferster added a number of key pieces during the course of the season, including size up front and on defence, and the solid goaltending of Matthew Greenfield and Keelan Williams.

The club hit its stride in the second half and lost just three regular season games after Jan. 1 to take on the look of a bonafide  contender.

“Once we had our goaltending solidified, we liked our team, we thought we could compete with anyone,” said Ferster. “We liked our team a lot, but we kind of flew under the radar, and that was just perfect for us, with the type of group we have.

“We’re a meat and potatoes team,” Ferster added. “We maybe looked skilled to some people, but our skilled guys work real hard. Skilled guys like Kylar (Hope) and Jonathan (Desbiens), they both played with separated shoulders (in Lloydminster) and didn’t let up.

“With had the kind of kids who bent but didn’t break and that was special to see.”

 

The biggest hurdle on the road to the RBC Cup may have been crossed well over a month ago, with West Kelowna finally finding a solution for the rival Penticton Vees.

After years of playoff futility against their South Okanagan foes, the Warriors took down the Vees in six games in the Interior Division final—sweeping the last four—and never looked back.

“That was the best feeling I ever had,” Mark Cheyne said of the win over Penticton. “We have arguably the toughest division in junior A hockey and to get out of there was huge for us. Once we got out of there, I wouldn’t say it was easy after, but it was a real war winning the province. Once the guys got on roll, they just kept it going.”

Ferster, who is completing his fifth season with the Warriors, said the organization from top to bottom and side to side can take credit for the club’s first ever BCHL, Western Canada Cup and RBC Cup titles.

“To have success, everybody has to be on the same page,” said Ferster, who won a national junior A title as a player with Vernon in 1990. “It starts with Mark Cheyne, our owner, there’s no one more deserving of this.

“Then you have the office people, the volunteers, players…it really is like family, and it feels great.”

On Tuesday, the Warriors were in the process of organizing a civic celebration with the city of West Kelowna for later in the week.

The Warriors will also play host to the team’s annual alumni event this weekend. Festivities begin with Warriors Alumni taking on the West Kelowna Firefighters at 3 p.m. on Saturday at Royal LePage for the Tim Hortons Cup.

 

 

Just Posted

Horgan on Site C: ‘dammed’ if did, ‘dammed’ if he didn’t

B.C. premier didn’t like keeping massive hydro damn project going, but felt he had to

Santa Bus hits the road in Central Okanagan

Specially decorated bus will collect food and toys for the annual Salvation Army hamper program

Police looking to identify West Kelowna bank robber

The RCMP are looking for a suspect who robbed a BMO

Holiday bears off to new homes

Annual Morning Star December giveaway draws crowd on cold Saturday morning

VIDEO: New series takes in-depth look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Black Press takes a hard look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Prairie homecoming for Rockets rookie

The 16-year-old defenceman, who grew up in Yorkton, Sask., excited to be touring Eastern Division with Kelowna

B.C. polygamous leader argues charge should be dropped in charter challenge

Winston Blackmore argues some of the evidence shouldn’t be used against him

The Salvation Army shares Christmas

Kelowna - The Sharing Christmas campaign is available for those in need

LETTER: Proportional representation makes votes count

Fair Vote Canada representative responds to Tom Fletcher column

B.C. dog owners warn about chain collars after puppy almost strangled

Young Rottweiler pup couldn’t breathe after another dog caught tooth on his collar

West Kelowna Fire Rescue donates food

More than 12,000 pounds was donated to the Okanagan Community Food Bank

Kamloops RCMP hunt for sexual assault suspect

Police are asking for your help locating Dolapo Ibukun Babatunde

Accused NYC subway bomber expected to face federal charges

Akayed Ullah, 27, was charged Tuesday with terrorism and weapons related charges

Most Read