The BCHL West Kelowna Warriors arrived home Tuesday morning to a heroes’ welcome.
Escorted by police and greeted by diehard fans, the team bus rolled in just before 1:30 a.m. with their national RBC Cup trophy in tow.
“Everyone’s pretty banged up,” said goaltender Matthew Greenfield. “But it feels unbelievable to bring a championship back here.”
The team credits all the support from hockey staff, management and the community for their success, but first and foremost, they credit the unbreakable bond between the players.
“We really became a family playing for one another and that’s why we were able to make it so far,” said goaltender Keelan Williams. “Everyone fought, fought hard so we could walk together as brothers the rest of our lives.”
The Warriors were never front-runners to win it all. Few thought they’d even make it out of the Interior Division. But the players believed.
“Right from day one we knew we could do something special this year,” said forward Kylar Hope.
In the moment the Warriors captain first hoisted the RBC Cup, while he was overjoyed, his first thought was for the city he represented.
“[I was] happy. So happy we could do it for West Kelowna. And this community wanted it more than us I think.”
Less than a handful of players are expected to return next season, so for most on the team, it was the perfect ending to a Cinderella season and their BCHL careers.
“We worked hard,” said forward Jared Marino. “Glad to say it’s over but it’s been an awesome ride. We’ll remember this team forever.”
Fans will have a chance to celebrate the team’s success and congratulate the players first hand this Thursday, as a parade is planned at 5:30 p.m.
It starts in the Mount Boucherie Secondary School parking lot, then onto East Boundary Road to Ross Road moving down Hewl Road and finishing at Royal LePage place where there will be a free barbecue.