The Penticton Vees are back on the road, as they make a stop in West Kelowna to face-off with their rivals from the north. Tonight is the first of a two-game weekend for the Vees, as tomorrow they return home to face the Nanaimo Clippers at 6pm.
The Vees are without the services of Josh Blanchard, as he was placed on the 60-day Injured Reserve after sustaining a lower-body injury last weekend. The Vees then went out and got some help upfront, with the acquisition of forward Brendan Lamont from the Trail Smoke Eaters. Lamont will wear number 14 for the Vees and will make his debut tonight alongside Cody DePourcq and Travis Blanleil. It doesn’t appear Blake Butzow will dress tonight but the rear-guard is getting closer to game shape; possibly tomorrow.
Hunter Miska gets the call tonight in-goal, the puck-stopper is 5-2-1-2 on the year with a 2.10 goals-against average and a .923 save-percentage. This is Miska’s first start against the Tribe, as Olivier Mantha was the goaltender of record back on October 18th. Look for “Manny” to start against the Clippers at home tomorrow.
- First meeting in nearly a month with the West Kelowna Warriors and just the second match up this season. After just one encounter with the Tribe in their first 20 games, the Vees will face their closest rival four times in the next 17.
- This also marks the first time the Vees are playing in West Kelowna this season. They were undefeated at RLP last season in the regular season; including playoffs were 5-1-0-0 in West K.
- Tonight is the end to a five game stretch away from the SOEC. So far the Vees are 2-1-0-1 in four games. Tomorrow will mark their first home game in 22 days when they host the Nanaimo Clippers.
- The Vees haven’t played a whole heck of a lot within their division this season, just nine of their first 20 games. That trend will continue after tonight, as only two of their next five are against Interior Division teams. Their schedule gets heavy with divisional opponents in the new year.
- The power-play has been red-hot in the last handful of games, as it’s been clicking at 35 percent in the last five (6-17). In the last three games, the Vees are 4-12 and have a power-play goal in four of their last five games.
- The penalty-kill hasn’t been as sharp, operating at 68 percent in the last five games (11-16). The Vees have allowed a power-play goal against in three of their last four games but are 7-7 against the Warriors this season.
- The Vees are 3-1-0-1 in their last five and 6-1-1-2 in their last 10 games. They’ve averaged just over four goals per game in their last five; what scoring problems?
- Brad McClure has a three game point streak (4-4-8) and has points in six of his last seven games (6-7-12).
- Brett Beauvais is right behind him, as the Vees defenseman has a four game point streak (1-7-8) and has points in seven of his last eight (2-10-12).
- Ben Dalpe has point together a nice run, with points in five of seven games (1-4-5) but has only one goal in his last eight; I blame McClure.
- Despite the run McClure has been on, the Vees are getting scoring from up and down the line-up. Nine players have scored their last 13 goals but McClure does have the other four.
- Jack Ramsey is coming on of late, after being held pointless in nine games, the rookie has one goals and and three points in his last four.
- Don’t be sleeping on the “trenchers.” Cody DePourcq has points in four of five games (3-2-5) and Cam Amantea has four goals in his last five games.
- The Tribe have lost three in a row and six of their last ten games but a win tonight, coupled with some help on the out-of-town scoreboard, and they’re back into third in the division.
- Issues in their own end? In each of their last three games, the Warriors have given up five goals (5-3 / 5-3 / 5-1).
- Head Coach Rylan Ferster told Castanet that they’re making too many mistakes, “We’re making those one, two, three mistakes a game and they’re ending up in our net.” That will be a focus in tonight’s match up, as when two well structured teams get together, the difference can be who manages the puck better.
- Despite a potent offense, the Warriors as of this morning, don’t have a player in the top 20 in league scoring. Jason Cotton sits 22nd with 10 goals and 23 points but it’s tight, as only three points separates 10th from 22nd. Well, the Vees only have one player inside the top 20 too (Brad McClure who’s 4th). More of a testament to both teams depth at the forward position then anything else.
- Jason Cotton has been the most consistent player for the Warriors. He just had his 11 game point streak ended on November 2nd against Trail but has points in all but three games he’s played this season.
- Seb Lloyd looks to be finding a groove too, as the third-year centerman has four points in two games (1-3-4) but just one goal in six. He’s more of a play-maker, looking to set up the Cotton’s and Firkus’ but make no mistake, he’s dangerous around the net.
- Jordan Masters has three points in his last two games; eight in the last nine.
- Car Hesler has scored in back-to-back games and has points in six of his last seven (5-3-8).
- Ambrose Firkus has been a tad quiet of late, goalless in seven games, his last coming October 5th against Nanaimo.
- Andy Desautels has lost his last two starts and is 2-3-0-0 in his last five. In those five games he’s posted a 3.21 goals-against average and a .908 save-percentage; likely tonight’s starter.
- Despite all the firepower they posses, the Tribe have struggled on the power-play. Coming into tonight, they’re ranked 10th but are just 13.64 percent at home, which is second-worst in the BCHL. However, things look to be trending in the right direction, as the man-advantage has been clicking at 18 percent in the last five games.
- Penalty-Kill has had some issues as well, coming into tonight it’s ranked 15th at 74.75 percent. The Vees will need to take advantage of power-play opportunities tonight.
On the Broadcast: Myself and Trevor Miller will set the table, with the pre-game show starting at 6:40pm. Also we’ll hear from the coaches and Brendan Lamont is my second intermission guest.