With the club’s future expected to be revealed Friday night at Royal LePage Place, players for the West Kelowna Warriors will have something more immediate to focus on—the B.C. Hockey League playoffs.
At 7 p.m., the Warriors will open the best-of-seven Interior Division semifinal series against the Merritt Centennials.
The Cents won four of seven meetings during the regular season, while the teams finished in a tie for fourth spot in the division with 56 points apiece.
Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster says those numbers pretty much sum up how the teams stack up against one another.
“I’d say we’re pretty evenly matched,” said Ferster, the Warriors head coach and GM. “They’re a very good team, they have a good forward group with size and skill. They play hard and we’re going have to do the same.”
The Warriors will be missing a key piece of their defensive corps as captain Nicholas Rutligliano continues to be sidelined with concussion symptoms.
Both goaltenders, Cole Demers and Gabriel Morency, have been nursing injuries, so Josh Boulding has been called up from Sicamous of the KIJHL to provide some insurance.
As for one of the keys to the series, Ferster points to the club’s returning veterans who were part of last year’s RBC Cup championship team—Quin Foreman, Connor Sodergren, Scott Allan and Jake Harrison among them.
“We have guys in that dressing room who won a national championship, our veterans and leaders who steer the ship so to speak,” Ferster said. “It’s maybe even more prevalent in the playoffs when they need to step out. At this time of year, it’s a lot about staying calm regardless of the situation and those guys are familiar with that.”
Meanwhile, an announcement regarding the future of the Warriors’ organization is expected to be made on Friday. Owner Mark Cheyne has been looking to sell the team after having lost money every year since taking over the Warriors in 2009. A deal to move the team to North Delta fell apart earlier this week.
Ferster said playing the game remains his team’s No. 1 task.
“It hasn’t been fun but we have no control over that,” he said. “We have a game to play and business to take care of on the ice. That’s my job so that’s what I’m concerned about.”
A look at the series schedule:
Friday, March 3 @ West Kelowna 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 4 @ West Kelowna 7 p.m.
Monday, March 6 @ Merritt 7 p.m.
Tuesday, March 7 @ Merritt 7 p.m.
Thursday, March 9 @ West Kelowna 7 p.m. *
Friday, March 10 @ Merritt 7 p.m. *
Saturday, March 11 @ West Kelowna 7 p.m. *