Rylan Ferster’s West Kelowna Warriors have four games remaining in the BCHL regular season. -Image: Douglas Farrow/Contributor

Warriors wind down regular season

With four games remaining before playoffs, West Kelowna hosts Victoria Saturday

Wins aren’t all the West Kelowna Warriors will be looking for heading into the final four games of the BCHL’s regular season. Rylan Ferster would also like to see his club shifting its game into postseason mode.

“I just think you want everybody to be on the same page and all pulling in the same direction, playing your best hockey,” said Ferster, whose club is coming off a 1-2 road trip to the coast.

“I know it’s a results business and we only went 1-for-3 this past weekend, but I thought overall we played fairly well.

“Having said that, we need to tighten up defensively, our team defense has to be better,” he added. “Obviously special teams is also huge in playoffs, so we have to get our penalty kill in order, that has to be better as well.”

The Warriors (26-26-1-1) will host the Island Division-leading Victoria Grizzlies (29-17-4-3) on Saturday, before closing out their home schedule Wednesday against the division rival Wenatchee Wild. Face off both nights at Royal LePage Place is 7 p.m.

“Both those games will be good tests for us, they’re very fast teams and play similar styles,” Ferster said. “We’ll have our hands full and it’ll tell us where we’re at.”

Getting into a rhythm this season has been a challenge for the Warriors have battled their share of injuries, enduring large stretches without several key forwards, including Matt Kowalski and Chase Stevenson. Now that they’re healthy again up front, the blueline has been hit hard with injuries to Stephen Kleysen, Cody Paivaranta and Garrett Ewart.

“No excuses, but it’s been a struggle all year with injuries,” said Ferster. “It’s unfortunate what’s happened with our defense, but that’s hockey and you have to find a way to battle through it.”

Following Saturday’s game, the Warriors will hand out their annual player awards. In addition, Saturday’s game at Royal LePage has also been designated Faith Night, as local churches and faith-based organizations come together in celebration of the Warriors’ chapel program.

West Kelowna will will close out the regular campaign next weekend, Feb. 23 and 24, with back-to-back games against Interior Division rivals in Merritt and Salmon Arm.

The Warriors, currently fifth in the division, will play either Trail or Wenatchee in the opening round of the BCHL playoffs.

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