The West Kelowna Warriors will have two new faces between the pipes when they take on the Vernon Vipers in week five of the Okanagan Cup.
The Warriors have been plagued with injuries of late, beginning with goaltender Zach Bennett who left warmup with an apparent lower injury during the first of the two-game set again Penticton last weekend. Then, at the end of the first period, backup-goaltender Johnny Derrick also went down with an injury forcing the Warriors to put an already beat up Bennett back in for the remainder of the game. The Warriors would lose 7-3 and would also lose rookie blueliner, Charles-Alexis Legault, with an undisclosed injury.
Going into last Saturday’s game the Warriors had to bring in an emergency backup in Robbie Paialunga and start Canmore’s Jay Thomson who didn’t get much defensive support from the Warriors, allowing six goals off 40 shots from the Vees.
Now, left with little options, the Warriors have turned to the Kelowna Rockets for help. Goaltenders Roman Basran and Cole Schwebius will fill in for this weekends matchup against Vernon while the Warriors’ tenders recover.
Vernon is a team the Warriors have had success against, having defeated them in back-to-back games to open the Okanagan Cup. While goaltenders Johnny Derrick and Zach Bennett respectfully picked up victories in each start stopping 30 plus shots only allowing one goal against in each game, the Warriors should be in good standing again having two top-notch junior goalies step into the fold.
On the other side of the puck the Vernon Vipers are on a roll after a weekend sweep of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. It seems the moves they’ve made since their opening weekend matchup against the Warriors have paid off.
Head coach and general manager Jason McKee made a big move sending Brett Fudger and Colby Feist to the Cowichan Valley Capitals in exchange for centre Will Arquiett. Arquiett, 20, gives the Vipers a much needed offensive boost. Since the trade, the Vipers have scored nine goals over two games. The Warriors need to expect a much different Vipers team who is only sitting three points behind them for second place in the Okanagan Cup Standings.
This evening’s game will be broadcast on both HockeyTV and the Warriors Mixlr Network. Puck drop at 6 p.m. from Kal Tire Place in Vernon. Saturday’s game will be a 7 p.m. puck drop from Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna. Both Friday and Saturday’s games will also be broadcast on the Shaw Spotlight channel.