Rylan Ferster can breathe a least a moderate sigh of relief as his No. 1 goaltender returns to the lineup this weekend.
Andy Desautels will be back between the pipes for the West Kelowna Warriors when they host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks this Friday in BCHL action. Face off at Royal LePage Place is 7 p.m.
Desautels, 20, has been on the shelf since mid-December after undergoing an emergency appendectomy. To exacerbate the problem, Warriors’ backup Scott Patton suffered a lower body injury prior to Christmas and remains sidelined on a week-to-week basis.
In the interim, Ferster’s resourcefulness was put to the test as he used four different goaltenders—Mike Lenko, Brad Huber, Jordan Reynolds and Colten Lancaster—none of whom had any junior A experience to speak of.
“I’ve never had both of my goalies go down at the same time, so it was a challenge for sure,” said Ferster, the Warriors’ head coach and GM. “It wasn’t easy. You just do you can with what you have.”
Still, with all the upheaval in the crease, the Warriors managed to post a 2-3-0 record to stay smack dab in the thick of the BCHL’s Interior Division playoff race.
West Kelowna (20-14-0-5) is in third spot, four points back of the Vernon Vipers and three ahead of Merritt.
“We hobbled and limped our way through it and managed to get some wins,” Ferster said. “If someone in September said we’d be where we are in January, we probably would have taken it. It’s such a tight division, our goal right now is just to make the playoffs. Hopefully we can make a push here and get some wins.”
Ferster added some experience along the blue line last week for the stretch run of the BCHL season, acquiring a pair of 20-year-olds—Tyler Kunz from the Prince George Spruce Kings and Braeden Jones, who has both BCHL and AJHL experience.
In the two deals, West Kelowna gave up forward Michael Buonincontri, defenseman Greydon Robinson and the playing rights to forward Devon McAndrews.
“We felt it was necessary to get a little older and experienced on the back end to make a run down the stretch in this tight division,” Ferster said.
The Warriors will also be home Sunday when they host Alberni Valley in a 2:30 p.m. start.