If their momentum from the regular season carries over into the playoffs, then the West Kelowna Warriors just might be in for a long and prosperous run.
But as Warriors’ coach and GM Rylan Ferster—and virtually every other coach—will tell you, the postseason is a whole new ball game.
The Warriors will host the rival Salmon Arm Silverbacks Friday night in the opening game of the BCHL Interior semifinal. Face off at Royal LePage Place is 7 p.m.
West Kelowna was in high gear at the end of the regular season winning 12 of it last 13 games.
In head-to-head matchups, West Kelowna won four of six meetings with Salmon Arm, including 6-1 in penalty-filled season finale at LePage.
Despite the trends of the regular season, Ferster said both teams will be starting from square one on Friday night.
“Those records mean nothing and our players know that, you can throw all of that stuff out,” Ferster said. “The (Silverbackas) are a good hockey team and we have respect for them. This should be a real good series.”
The Warriors (38-17-2-1) finished second in the Interior Division, 12 points ahead of the third-place ‘Backs (29-20-5-4).
Game 2 in the best of seven series goes Saturday night in West Kelowna.
Game 3 and 4 will go at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
Game 5, if needed, will be back in West Kelowna on Friday, March 11.
Following Friday’s game, the Warriors handed out their team awards.
Among the big winners were MVP Kylar Hope, best all-around player Liam Blackburn, and rookie of the year, Jake Harrison.
Top defenseman honours were shared by Nick Rutigliano and Rylan Yaremko.
Kyle Marino picked up the Chaplaincy Award to go along with his Fan Favourite, and Heart and Soul nods, while Tyler Anderson was named most improved and picked up the Community-Minded player award.
Rylan Yaremko has committed Northern Michigan University for the 2017-18 NCAA season.
Yaremko, a 6-foot-3, 200 pound defender from Spirit River, AB, had 13 goals and 34 points in 56 fames with the Warriors this season.
“I’m very excited to join Northern Michigan University’s hockey program,” said Yaremko .“I would like to thank my family, teammates, and all the previous coaches for supporting me through this process. It’s a great fit for me on and off the ice and can’t wait to put on a Wildcat jersey.”