Radio: EZ Rock AM 800
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Season Series: September 13th 5-1 Vees, September 14th 7-0 Vees, December 11th 3-2 Vees, January 11th 3-2 Vees, January 25th 5-2 Vees, February 5th @ Penticton, February 21st @ Penticton.
(All you need to know about the last “Wicked Wednesday”)
- The Vees are 5-0-0 against the Smoke Eaters this season, outscoring them 23-7 in those five games; 8-4 at the SOEC. They last met January 25th, at the SOEC, where the Vees skated to a 5-2 win. The season series wraps up February 21st, once again at the SOEC.
- The Vees are in a bit of a rut, as they’ve dropped their last two and five of their last seven (2-4-0-1). Through the course of a 58-game regular season, teams are going to have their struggles and right now these past few weeks have been challenging for Penticton. However, with that all said, they’re still a top-four team in the BCHL and they’re now tied for first with West Kelowna; the sky ain’t falling. A win tonight, they’re back in sole possession of first in the Interior and in the BCHL’s top three.
- A good sign? The Vees are 9-3-1-2 when coming off a loss this season and have outscored their opponents 53-35 in those five games. That stat tells me this team has a knack of bouncing back and quickly.
- The Vees will have some line-up tweaks for tonight’s game, most notably Hunter Miska will get his second consecutive start. He was pulled after two periods Saturday in Salmon Arm but that was more of a mercy hook than anything else; no run support. The Vees have been rotating between Miska and Mantha but maybe the former’s numbers against Trail were too hard to ignore. Miska is 3-0-0 against Trail this season, while sporting a minuscule 1.33 goals-against average, while maintaining a sparkling .946 save-percentage. His only shutout came against Trail back on September 14th.
- The Vees have shuffled the deck somewhat, as they will have four new looking lines upfront and three altered D-pairings as well. The coaching staff continues to tinker with the line-up, in efforts to kick-start the offense. What’s unique about this roster, is no combination is every set in stone, as the forwards are pretty interchangeable, which gives the coaching staff some flexibility. I’m sure they’ll stick with a trio if they get hot tonight but the depth on this squad affords the coaches to throw many different looks at their opponents.
- The Vees will also be looking to reestablish their dominance at home. The SOEC usually is one of the toughness buildings to take points out of. But lately the Vees have been inconsistent on home ice, just 2-2-0-1 in their last five home games; 6-3-0-1 in their last 10. Good, but not “Vee” like. What’s a common trend in those four losses at home? They were held to two or less goals in all of them. In the six wins they’ve score three or more goals in all six. I spoke to Patrick Sexton this morning and he says they need to get that “swagger” back they have had when playing at home. Scoring and scoring lots helps.
- Cliche Alert: A good start can go a long way tonight. The Vees are 20-5-1-3 when they score first and 19-2-1-3 when leading after the first period. Trail is 4-27-1-2 when giving up the games first goal and 2-24-1-2 when trailing after one. Trail’s lost seven in a row and the Vees need to take advantage of that. A couple quick goals for Penticton tonight and Trail might have doubts creep into their head.
- Most importantly, the Vees can’t look past this game or they’ll be in trouble. Yes, Trail owns the BCHL’s worst record but have played the Vees tough in the last three match ups. Everyone has Friday circled when Salmon Arm comes back to the SOEC, but the Vees need to keep their attention on tonight. Trail has nothing to lose, their playing for pride and jobs for next season. If the Vees start thinking this will be a cake walk, they’ll be sorely mistaken.
Vees Scoring vs Trail:
Max Coatta 4-3-7 Jack Ramsey 1-5-6
Brad McClure 3-2-5 Ben Dalpe 0-4-4
Brett Beauvais 1-3-4 Cody DePourcq 1-3-4
Steen Cooper 1-2-3 Erik Benoit 0-3-3
Alex Coulombe 0-3-3 Patrick Sexton 2-0-2
Matt Serratore 1-1-2 Chris Rygus 0-2-2
Paul Stoykewych 0-2-2 Josh Blanchard 1-0-1
Nic Pierog 1-0-1 Shane McColgan 1-0-1
Travis Blanleil 0-1-1 Jarod Hilderman 0-1-1
Smoke Eaters Notes:
- Trail is marred in a seven-game losing streak dating back to January 18th, and they haven’t won a game against the Interior Division since January 4th; they’re just 3-24-0-1 against the Interior.
- By looking at their line-up, Trail will only have eight regular forwards dressed for tonight, 10 if you include two AP’s. Also, AP Kai McDonald is penciled in as tonight’s starter and 20-year-old Dustin Nikkel as the back-up. I’ve seen this before from Trail and will wait till warm-up to see who is actually starting. But another AP, Nate Rabbitt, did start their last game, a 9-6 loss at home to Merritt last Saturday; Nikkel did back-up. Strange.
- Trail has Adam Wheeldon, Adam Todd, Jakson Elynuik, Dylan Mascarin and Nathan Browne listed as scratches. All key pieces going forward for this team and Todd was very good in his last start against the Vees, despite allowing five goals.
- Despite scoring six goals, Trail lost their last game 9-6, in a wild back-and-forth affair with the Centennials. Taylor Armbruster, a defenseman by the way, picked up a hat-trick in the loss.
- Also Jesse Knowler is set to return to the Smokies line-up after missing a month of action with what I assume was an injury. Knowler last played on January 3rd and despite missing all that time, still leads the team in scoring (6-17-23).
- Don’t think it will be a gimme for the Vees tonight, even with the short bench, Trail will be hard to play against. Trail was in a similar situation the last time these two teams met and it was only 2-1 for the Vees after the first period (thanks largely to the goaltending of Adam Todd).
- Since Nick Deschenes has come on board as the Head Coach, Trail is 5-22-1-2. They’ve traded quite a few veteran pieces over the last two months and you don’t want to necessarily judge the Smokies by wins and losses at this point. You look more at the intangibles, effort level most notably but this team has been outscored 27-9 in its last three games.
Smoke Eaters Scoring vs Penticton:
Dylan Bowen 1-1-2 Scott Davidson 1-1-2
Dylan Mascarin 1-12 Zane Schartz 0-2-2
Bryan Basilico 1-0-1 Riley Brandt 1-0-1
Adam Wheeldon 1-0-1 Braeden Cross 0-1-1
Jake Lucchini 0-1-1