September 1, 2013, West Kelowna, BC (ISN) – The West Kelowna Warriors and Vernon Vipers are ready for the BCHL’s regular season to begin. The way they waged war Saturday at Royal LePage Place, it looked like the season was well under way.
The Warriors got three goals from second-year forward Ambrose Firkus – the last snapping a 4-4 tie with 3:32 left in regulation time giving the home side a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Vipers.
West Kelowna finish the pre-season 2-1-1 while the Vipers, who will serve as host team for the RBC Cup, went 2-3 over the exhibition season.
The home-and-home series between the Warriors and Vipers seemed closer to regular season games than they did pre-season.
Warriors head coach Rylan Ferster credits that to teams and players being better prepared than in past years.
“With both teams you can see the systems they are working on and both teams basically have their line-ups in,” says Ferster.
“I’m probably speaking for a lot of the guys in the league – we’re ready to go next weekend. Guys want to get at it.”
Saturday’s pre-season finale´ was feisty from the get-go as the Vipers used their size advantage to try and physically dominate the smaller Warriors.
The opening period featured a pair of spirited fights, the first featuring Warriors captain Matt Anholt and Vernon’s Josh Bryan. The second as the second period ended pitted Warrior Braxton Bilous and Viper Brenden Persley.
Post-whistle scrums were more the norm than the exception.
“You can see what their make-up is. They’re a big, physical team who plays that way,” says Ferster.
“I thought we bent a little bit here and there but we didn’t break. I think that’s important in your own building. People always try to come in and try to set the tone but I thought we played well for the most part.”
Brennan Clark and Liam Blackburn also scored for the Warriors.
Jason Bird with two, Liam Coughlin and Logan Mick replied for the Vipers who erased a two goal deficit to tie the game at 4-4 before Firkus put the game away with a late power-play goal.
The Vipers had a chance to tie the game while shorthanded in the last minute, however, Warriors netminder Steven Myland got his pad on a tip-in off a close-in two-on-one break.
Myland went all the way turning aside 22 Vipers shots as the Warriors outshot Vernon 32-26.
The Warriors and the other 15 BCHL teams now get ready for the start of the season with the second annual Showcase Weekend in Chilliwack.
All 16 teams will play two games over the three days next weekend.
The Warriors, who won both games at the Showcase event last season, will face Surrey in the feature game Friday night at 7:30 and Nanaimo Saturday afternoon at 3.
Following the Showcase weekend the Warriors will return home to prepare for their home opener Friday, Sept. 13 against the Merritt Centennials.
Find continuing coverage of the West Kelowna Warriors at The General’s Report.