A year ago, when West Kelowna Warriors coach Rylan Ferster pulled the trigger on a trade deadline move that would bring in a top goalie, he did so to solidify perhaps what is the most important position on a hockey team.
And after last season season, a year where the Warriors goaltenders were less than stellar, 20-year-old Tyler Briggs is proving Ferster was right to go out and get him last year, no matter the cost.
Briggs was exceptional again on Tuesday as the goalie stopped 30 of 32 shots for his 20th win of the season as West Kelowna won its fourth in a row, 4-2 over the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters.
Briggs saved his best work for the third when he made 13 saves to preserve the Warriors lead.
“I think that’s what goaltending is all about is making the timely save and he’s done it again and again,” said Ferster of his number one netminder. “Tonight in the third it’s 3-2 and he makes that one coming across. We’d probably be in overtime without it. He’s been good for us but we expect that from him.”
The win solidifed the Warriors hold on third place in the BCHL Interior, giving them a nine point lead over fourth place Salmon Arm, which currently holds down the final playoff position in the BCHL Interior. The Warriors are also now just two points back of second place Merritt and even closer to clinching a playoff spot in the BCHL at 23-12-3-8.
For Briggs, Tuesday’s work was the continuation of a solid 20-year-old season. A native of Sherwood Park, AB, the 20-year-old is now 20-12-2-0 with a 2.49 goals against average and a .922 save percentage. Already committed to NCAA Div. I school Clarkson, Briggs was also named the Warriors player of the month for January.
The Warriors now hit the road for three games in three nights this weekend as they will play Friday in Chilliwack, Saturday in Powell River and Sunday in Alberni Valley.
Having won four straight games sets the team up on a nice roll heading into the road trip.
“Certainly you want to head out on the road on a good note and things have gone relatively well for for us lately,” said Ferster. “It’s going to be a really tough test for us this weekend.”
The Warriors have just 10 games remaining in the BCHL season and eight of those 10 games will be on the road. The Warriors won’t return to Royal LePage Place until Feb. 26 when they host Vernon. The team’s other home game is March 1 against Merritt.