The West Kelowna Warriors have already claimed two of Canadian junior A hockey’s more coveted titles.
The third and most sought after trophy of all now awaits them in Lloydminster, Alta./Sask.
The Warriors will take on the host Bobcats Saturday night in the opening game of the RBC Cup national junior A hockey championship.
“This is what you play all year for,” said Warriors head coach and GM Rylan Ferster. “We’re excited…privileged and honoured to be in this position. It’s great to be in this final class of teams.”
The Warriors—the Fred Page Cup and Western Canada Cup champs—will be joined by the host team, along with the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Brooks Bandits, and Ontario’s Carleton Place Canadians and Trenton Golden Hawks in the five-team round robin event.
The BCHL champs secured their place at the RBC Cup by winning the organization’s first ever western regional title on Saturday in Estevan, Sask., defeating Brooks 6-0 in the final.
Now 29 games into the post season, Ferster said the stakes are higher than ever but, in many ways, it’s just business as usual for his Warriors.
“It’s May, but it feels like could as easily be October,” said Ferster, whose team is staying in Saskatoon until Thursday. “When you’re going through the journey, you just keep playing, you stick with the day-to-day routine so, in that way, it feels the same.
“When you do lose, it’s like a big punch in the face, an empty feeling,” he added, …but until that happens, we’ll keep doing what we’re doing, and hopefully that leads to something really good at the end of it all.”
Still, Ferster doesn’t underestimate the gravity of what his team has already accomplished and credits the players for carrying the load.
Ferster said chemistry and team unity, as much as anything, has been responsible for the Warriors’ success to date.
“We haven’t had an easy road, we’ve had four rounds of war and the guys have done a great job all the way through it,” Ferster said. “This is such a good, fun group of kids. They’re engaging people, they care about what they’re doing and they care about each other. We have great leadership and chemistry and that’s been so important.”
After Saturday’s game, the Warriors will play Brooks on Sunday, Carleton Place on Tuesday, and Trenton on Wednesday.
The semi-finals are set for Saturday, May 21, with the RBC Cup championship game set for Sunday, May 22 at 3 p.m Pacific time.