Warriors prep for tough weekend; look for first win

After dropping two at BCHL Showcase, West Kelowna has home and home with Merritt this weekend

After going winless at the annual B.C. Hockey League showcase last weekend, the West Kelowna Warriors will go looking for its first points of the regular season this weekend with a home and home series against the Merritt Centennials.

Despite outshooting its opponents a combined 88 to 40 in losses to Surrey and Nanaimo last weekend, the Warriors lost both games. Head coach/GM Rylan Ferster wasn’t hitting any panic buttons this week but said it’s important that the team get in the win column this weekend.

“You never want to go (winless) for a weekend so I think we are somewhat behind the eight ball,” said Ferster as the Warriors got set for its home opener on Friday night at Royal LePage Place (7 p.m.). “I don’t think we can go through this weekend and come out with nothing. We have to get after it. Looking back to last weekend we weren’t totally disappointed in the way we played. But we didn’t get the wins and that’s the bottom line.”

Ferster pointed to the team’s special teams as something that needed to improve heading into the second weekend of the BCHL regular season. Last season the Warriors had the second best power play unit in the BCHL but on opening weekend the team managed just one goal on 12 chances while allowing three power play goals against on nine chances.

“Our special teams need to be better and we worked on that this week,” said Ferster. “I think that’s where we had our trouble last weekend. Special teams are so big. A lot of times the team that wins the special teams battle wins the game.”

Merritt went 1-1-0-0 at the BCHL Showcase and arrives in West Kelowna after being ousted by the Warriors in last year’s BCHL playoffs. With a rivalry established and games already taking on extra importance, Ferster says his club has to be ready for a tough weekend.

“We know how hard they work,” he said of Merritt. “We watched them at the Showcase and we’ve watched them on tape. When you play a team in the playoffs that adds to the rivalry. We’re expecting it to be a very tough weekend.”

The Warriors trimmed its roster this week, releasing goaltender Steven Myland, meaning newcomer Andy Desautels will carry the load as the team’s number one netminder with rookie Tanner Burgardt taking on the back-up roll.

West Kelowna plays Merritt at home on Friday night before the two teams head for Merritt on Saturday night for the second half of the home and home.

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