3-4-0-0 (5th) Records 4-2-0-0 (2nd)
3-1-0-0 Away / Home: 0-0-0-0
3-2 OTW @Vernon Last Game: 3-1 L @Vernon
Sep 29 vs Cowichan Valley Next Game: Sep 28 vs. Cowichan Valley
Sep 27th @ SOEC / Oct 16th @ SOEC
Dec 4th @SOEC / Dec 6th @ Nicola Valley Arena
Jan 3rd @ Nicola Valley Arena / Jan 5th @ SOEC
Jan 17th @ Nicola Valley Arena
The Penticton Vees (4-2-0-0) lift the curtain at the SOEC tonight as they host an Interior Division rival in the Merritt Centennials (3-4-0-0). Home openers are always special but tonight has a little more meaning to it, as it’s the SOEC’s fifth anniversary to the day; the first ever game at the rink was back on September 27th, 2008.
The Centennials haven’t played since last Saturday when they knocked-off the Vipers in overtime 3-2. In that game the Cents’ were missing five regulars, including veteran goalie Russell Sanderson, who is still on the 30 day IR. After tonight, the Cents’ host the Cowichan Valley Capitals (the Vees opponent tomorrow) on Sunday afternoon.
A message has been sent. All four forward lines and two of the Vees three D pairings will have a new look to it tonight (line-up above). Noteworthy is the “Trench Line” being reunited, as Cam Amantea, Travis Blanleil and Cody DePourcq will start together tonight. Brad McClure and Ben Dalpe will have a new left-winger to play with in Anthony Conti and Ryan Gropp is going to skate alongside Riley Alferd and Matt Serratore; a line that’s going to bring a lot of speed. The move comes after the Vees have had two sub-par showings in Prince George and Vernon. I look forward to seeing what the new look lines bring tonight.
The Vees want nothing more than to celebrate the occasion with a win after dropping their last two contests to the Vernon Vipers and Prince George Spruce Kings. Wednesday in Vernon the Vees were on the wrong end of a 3-1 score, as Max Coatta was the only Vee to get on the scoresheet; Wednesday was the first lost to a divisional opponent as well. Speaking of the Division, this is only the Vees fourth Divisional game in this their seventh game this season. Prior to facing Vernon, the Vees took a pair of games in Trail two weeks ago, outscoring the Smoke Eaters 12-1 in the two-game sweep.
The Vees will have a full complement of players tonight, as Jack Ramsey has returned from his one game absence. Ramsey played in the USA Hockey / CCM All-American Prospects game in Pittsburgh on Thursday. It was a bit of a journey for him to get back tonight for the home opener, as didn’t land in Penticton until early this afternoon. One player is missing in defenseman Blake Butzow, who is recovering from Meningitis and is on the shelf for another 3-6 weeks.
Max Coatta leads the Vees in scoring, as the rookie from Minnetonka, Minnesota has a team best six goals and nine points; two better than next best point producer. Right behind Coatta is Brad McClure (4-3-7) and Ryan Gropp (2-4-6) and Ben Dalpe (2-4-6). Wednesday Hunter Miska took the loss despite his brilliant play between the pipes
and it looks like Olivier Mantha will get the start in goal tonight Miska does draw back in to start tonight and I will get Coach’s thoughts on that move. Both Mantha and Miska sport identical 2-1 records and have near identical goals-against average numbers and save-percentages.
OP Office Products 3 Keys:
- Don’t get Stage Fright: A big night for the Vees and SOEC, as the building is celebrating it’s fifth birthday. A large crowd is expected for tonight’s clash with the Cents’ and the Vees are going to have to find a way to channel the energy from their fans. Last year, outside of GM 6 versus Surrey, this team struggled in front of large crowds. Healthy to have nerves before your home opener but don’t fall into a trap of trying to put on a show or do too much, to impress your fans. Know what will impress them? Two points.
- Play P***** Off: Pardon my language but that’s the attitude this team will need to bring tonight when they hit the ice. The last two games this team didn’t have the edge we say in their first four games, which saw them fly out to a 4-0 start. Call in tenacity, call it truculence call it whatever you want; the Vees need to bring that tonight.
- GET TO THE @#$%^! NET: There’s no easy goals in this league anymore and the Vees are well aware of that now. Look at how their last two opponents scored against them: hard net drives. PG scored all four of their goals at the top of or near the crease. Vernon scored two of their goals off of one forward going hard to the goal. The perimeter game won’t work against Merritt. Time to roll up the sleeves and get dirty.
The Cents’ have been playing some good hockey of late, winning two of their last three games, including last Saturday’s 3-2 overtime victory in Vernon. Like in years past, Luke Pierce has put together a hard-working group that gets scoring from up and down the line-up. Jeff Wight at the moment leads the team in scoring with four goals and six points but only two points separates first from seventh in the team scoring race; all but one player on their roster has at least one point.
After the Vees had the Cents’ number for awhile up until last season when Luke Pierce’s club won five of the seven regular season meetings. One of those wins came in February when the Vees had 4,700 fans at the SOEC for a special event; the Cents shut them out 1-0. There is still a sizable core from last year that knows they can win in this building. The Vees will have to do everything in their power to quickly erase those memories.
On the Dairy Queen Radio Broadcast: I will be joined by both coaches in our Cherry Lane Shopping Centre pre-game show (6:40pm). Also hear from alumni Joey Laleggia (1st INT) and Brett Beauvais is my Penticton Herald second intermission featured guest.