The West Kelowna Warriors won their first Western Canada Cup trophy with a 6-0 drubbing of Alberta’s Brooks Bandits on Saturday night in Estevan, Sask.
The title sends the Warriors on to the RBC Cup which begins next weekend in Lloydminster, AB.
The BCHL champs will play the host Bobcats next Saturday in the tournament opener.
In Estevan, the Warriors went 3-1 in the round robin, then dominated Brooks from the opening face off to advance to the team’s first ever national junior A championship tournament.
Brooks and the Portage Terriers will play Sunday for the second western berth in the RBC Cup.
Warriors captain Kyle Marino said it was important for his club to get the job done as quickly as possible and lock up the first berth to Lloydminster.
“I think it was huge,” said Marino who scored the Warriors’ fourth goal Saturday. “It’s a lot of momentum, it gives that group a lot of confidence that we can beat a Brooks, we can show up against anybody. I think obviously a much-deserved break for us…just gotta keep going and playing hard.”
West Kelowna scored three times in the first period to lead the charge as the mentality against goaltender Garrett Hughson was to throw pucks on goal.
Kyle Marino fired a shot off the pad of Hughson in the first three minutes which kicked out to Bryan Basilico. His shot rebounded to Connor Sodergren who slipped it over the line, although it was credited to Basilico.
Just four minutes later, a seeing eye point shot from Nick Rutigliano snaked its way past the goaltender Hughson for the 2-0 lead.
At 15:22, Garrett Forster redirected a puck off his skate and into the goal for the 3-0 edge as West Kelowna out-shot the Bandits by a 18-11 margin.
It wasn’t until the final five minutes of the second period that the Warriors would score again, staving off a pushback from the Bandits on the shot clock. With the Warriors on one of their 14 power plays, Marino buried one to make it 4-0.
In the third, Kylar Hope tucked home a wrap-around goal, his specialty to make it 5-0, before Jared Marino scored on a late power play to make it 6-0.
Brooks would take 60 minutes in penalties in the game, including the final eight times short handed.
Keelan Williams picked up the shutout and had a sparkling tournament since coming in for the injured Matthew Greenfield. Williams made 32 saves, raising his WCC save percentage to .963, and lowering his GAA to 0.96.
On Thursday, Warriors forward Brett Mennear was named to the tournament’s all-star team while also earning a share of the top scorer honours.