The numbers all favour the Westside Warriors heading into its B.C. Hockey League first round playoff series with the Trail Smoke Eaters Friday.
And while the numbers don’t mean much heading into the playoffs, they certainly tag the Warriors as favourites with the Warriors and Smoke Eaters kicking off their best-of-seven opening round playoff series Friday night at Royal LePage Place.
The Warriors were a perfect 6-0 against Trail this season and are playing their best hockey of the year heading into the second season after a 7-1-0-1 record in February.
The Smoke Eaters on the other hand limped into the second season winning just once in February.
Still Warriors coach Darren Yopyk knows the games are played on the ice, not in the record books.
“We’re confident for sure but it’s a whole new season,” said Yopyk. “I know they are a confident group, they’ve had a pretty good year and they have a veteran group. They want nothing more than to knock us off.”
This season will mark the third straight year the Warriors and Smoke Eaters have met in the first round of the BCHL playoffs with Westside ousting Trail in both of those series.
The Warriors passed Trail in the final weeks of the regular season to earn home ice advantage in the first round. Westside is an impressive 20-8-0-2 at Royal LePage Place this season.
“It’s a brand new season and none of that matters,” said Yopyk. “I tell our guys that you are guaranteed four games and your’re playing to guarantee yourself another game.”
The Warriors and Smoke Eaters will play Friday and Saturday nights at Royal LePage Place before the series shifts to Trail for games three and four next Monday and Tuesday in Trail.
The Warriors enter the playoffs relatively healthy with just Stefan Nicholishen (hand, one week) and Brett Mulcahy (wrist, indefinite) out of the lineup…Yopyk said he has yet to decide on who will start in net for the Warriors with Kevin Boyle and Cole Holowenko both playing well and getting wins last weekend…The other first round playoff series in the BCHL Interior are Merritt vs. Salmon Arm and Quesnel vs. Penticton. Vernon received a first round bye.