Re-Focused Warriors Look to Bounce Back

The West Kelowna Warriors (BCHL) are getting back on track following a tumultuous preseason that saw multiple staff changes and even a full player walk out.

Nine games into the 2018-19 BCHL season, the Warriors find themselves in a three-way battle for first in the Interior Division with a 5-4-0 record. It’s still early, but to imagine the team would be in this position at the beginning of October may have been debatable, especially after how the preseason went for the club.

First, it was the unexpected resignation of then GM/Head Coach, Rylan Ferster, who left the team mid-camp. Then came the firing of his replacement, Geoff Grimwood, just a couple weeks later by new team owner, Kim Dobranski. That move did not sit well with the West Kelowna Warriors players, who promptly staged a ‘walk-off’ from the team until their new coach was reinstated. The team announced their intentions with a tweet of solidarity from captain, Cavin Tilsley, featuring the team together on a hike in the Okanagan hills.

Eventually Dobranski reinstated Grimwood as head coach, and following a series of public apologies and press conferences by the ownership, the Warriors got back to playing hockey. They now find themselves vying for the top seed in the Interior Division. Warriors forward, Brandon Dent, credits the leadership within the dressing room as a major factor in the team’s refocus and determination this season.

“I think we have a real strong team and a bunch of returning guys. We had a bit of controversy with coaching and what’s been going on at the start with our owner, but I think we’ve settled that down,” Dent explained. “Just following the leaders on our team, they did a good job of keeping the guys calm and collected and it was good for them to do that and it’s looking better now.”

The preseason debacle spurred the British Columbia Hockey League to step in, stating that it would oversee the matter to help stabilize things in West Kelowna which, for the time being, is what appears to be happening.