Warriors face Vipers for two

After finishing off the calendar year on a sour note things don’t get any easier for the Westside Warriors this week.

The Warriors will play the Vernon Vipers twice this weekend as the two BCHL Interior rivals will play a home and home series beginning Friday night in West Kelowna.

“Vernon is a very good team,” said Warriors coach Darren Yopyk. “They are the two time defending national champions. It’s going to be a big weekend for us for sure.”

The Warriors closed out the 2010 schedule by playing on New Year’s Eve in Penticton. But Westside couldn’t spoil the Penticton party as the Vees rolled to a 5-1 win on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The Vees scored three unanswered goals during a five minute span of the second period that broke a scoreless deadlock at that point.

Max French was the only Warriors player to score breaking Penticton’s shut-out bid with two minutes to go in the game on a rebound chance after a Michael King blast from the point.

The loss dropped the Warriors to 22-14-2-3 as the BCHL schedule heads into the final two months of the season. The club is tied for fourth position in the Interior with the Trail Smoke Eaters while Vernon and Penticton are tied for first, six points ahead of the Warriors.

Yopyk says the turning of the calendar means games will get tougher as the season heads toward the stretch drive.

“We have one-third of our season left,” he said. “At this point in the season the players and teams are getting accustomed to each other, the rookies are no longer rookies and points seem to be harder to come by.”

With just six points separating the top four teams in the Interior, Yopyk says he likes the way the Warriors have come together to this point.

“We think we have a pretty good group,” he said. “There are a lot of very good teams in our conference but we think we’re right in the mix. Hopefully we are playing our best hockey at the end of February.”

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