Having eight days off in the throes of a playoff run might not be an ideal scenario for every hockey team.
But it works just fine for the West Kelowna Warriors—according to head coach Rylan Ferster—who are using the time to rest, heal and reload in advance of the BCHL’s Interior Conference final against the defending champion Penticton Vees.
Game 1 in the best-of-seven matchup is set for Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
“Rest is important at this time of year,” said Ferster. “I’m not one of those coaches who looks at time off as a momentum-killer. We’ve just come through a physical series, it gives the guys a chance to take care of some bruises and get ready for the next big challenge ahead of us.”
The Warriors are in recovery and preparation mode after a physical, five-game series win over the Merritt Centennials, clinching the conference semifinal with a 7-4 victory Thursday night at Royal LePage Place.
West Kelowna played much of the series without David Pope and Ben Tegtmeyer, while Brett McKinnon and Mitch Nardi have yet to suit up in post-season, all due to injury. Ferster expects to have the majority of them back in the lineup for the weekend.
The more hands on deck he has, the better equipped Ferster says his club will be to take on the defending Royal Bank Cup junior A champs.
“The (Vees) are the defending champs and until someone beats them, that’s who they’ll remain,” said Ferster. “We’re well aware of who they are and what they can do and we have a great deal of respect for them. We’re going from one great team (Merritt) to another great team in the playoffs. The Vees don’t have a lot of holes in their game, so we’ll have to be at the top of ours.”
The Vees won six of seven regular season meetings between the clubs, which haven’t seen each other since a 2-1 Penticton victory back on Jan. 26.
Game 2 of the series goes Saturday at the SOEC, with Games 3 and 4 set for Monday, April 1 and Tuesday, April 2 at Royal LePage Place.