WEST KELOWNA 5 - VICTORIA 1
Rylan Ferster’s old team showed no mercy for his new team on Saturday night as the high-flying West Kelowna Warriors cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Victoria Grizzlies in front of 1,111 fans at The Q Centre.
Ferster coached West Kelowna to the 2016 B.C. Hockey League and RBC Cup national Junior A championship, but his new team looks like it’ll be in tough to just make the playoffs this season.
The Warriors, with 10 NCAA committed players and two NHL draft picks, scored twice in the first period and held the Grizzlies without a shot until the midway point of the opening frame.
The Warriors, who were coming off a 2-1 win over the Cowichan Valley Capitals in Duncan on Friday, were too fast for a Grizzlies team that lacks the firepower of past Victoria teams. With Pittsburgh Penguins draft pick and Cornell-bound Luke Devlin and Seattle Kraken draft pick Ben MacDonald, who’s headed to Harvard next season, the Warriors look ready for another run at the BCHL title.
On Saturday, West Kelowna’s supporting cast did most of the damage. Kailus Green, a Kelowna native and one of only a handfull of Warriors without an NCAA scholarship, scored twice, while Brennan Nelson and Jack Bernadet, also without an NCAA committment, both scored in the second period to put the visitors up 4-0.
Nelson added another on a third-period breakaway.
The only bright spot for the Grizzlies came with 2:23 left in the third when newly-acquired Jacksenn Hungle came flying out of the penalty box and buried a breakaway to spoil Justin Katz’s shutout bid.
The Grizzlies, with Ansel Holt doing all he could to keep his team in it making 19 saves before getting a mercy hook by Ferster after the second period and being replaced by rookie Oliver Auyeung-Ashton, fall to 0-1-0-1 in the early season.
The Grizzlies now get a week off before travelling to Nanaimo next Saturday night to face the Clippers. Then they’ll return home for a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Langley Rivermen at 2 p.m. at The Q Centre.
LOOSE PUCKS: Two games in and the injuries are already piling up for the Grizzlies. Veteran Noah Leibl missed Saturday’s game after picking up an injury late in Friday’s night shootout loss to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, and winger Cam Smith left Saturday’s game in midway through the third period and didn’t return.