With a win against the Salmon Arm Silverbacks tonight, the Westside Warriors can climb back into third spot in the Interior Conference.
The Warriors (11-6-0) host the Silverbacks (11-6-1-1) in the first of a home-and-home series over the weekend that could determine who finishes first behind perennial powerhouses Vernon and Penticton for the third playoff spot.
“It is an important weekend, there are two points available each night and of course we want to win, but at this point we need to play well,” said head coach Darren Yopyk. “This is about getting better as a team so we are seasoned for the playoffs.”
The Warriors enter the game winners of six of their last 10, while the Silverbacks are coming off an important 10-2 win over Merritt, rebounding nicely after being pounded 7-1 by Trail on Oct. 23.
“We know they are a good team,” said Yopyk. “It will be interesting because we haven’t had a great weekend of practice because some players were out due to illness and minor injuries.”
Yopyk said the roster won’t be solidified until moments before the drop of the puck.
“The flu has gone through almost our entire team,” he said. “We are going to use some of our affiliate players to fill the gaps.”
The loss of leading scorers Cam Reid and Braydon Downing also won’t help. The dynamic duo are out of the lineup as the two are currently representing Team Canada West as a part of the World Junior A Challenge, running Nov. 1-8 in Summerside, PEI.
“You never can replace players of their calibre,” said coach Yopyk. “We are going to have to replace them by committee, but you can expect guys like Max French to play a lot more.”
Yopyk said the only roster spot he could confirm was Kevin Jebson in net, who was one of the few players not to be touched by the flu bug. He also said fans could expect the debut of forward Patrick Bartoshyk, who was acquired in a trade with Grand Prairie of the AJHL earlier this week.
Tonight is also Spooktacular night at Royal LePage Place on Friday. Fans are encouraged to dress in costume. There will be free candy and popcorn for children under 12 and prizes for best costumes.