Radio: EZ Rock AM 800
- The Vees look to run the table on their three-game schedule this week with a win in Vernon. They started the week by posting a 6-3 win in West Kelowna on Tuesday and followed that up with a 4-2 nail-bitter over Trail last night at home. If they can win in Vernon tonight, it would be the second time this month the Vees have won three in a row.
- Last night was labeled as a “trap game”as it proceeded tonight’s contest. The coaching staff and players have been looking forward to this one since Wednesday morning, well, maybe even since last Saturday, the morning after a 2-1 loss at home to Vernon. The Vees have had eight days to stew about that loss and certainly won’t be lacking motivation tonight; they have a chance to return the favour in Vernon.
- This is the seventh and final meeting between the Vees and Vipers in the regular season. The Vees have technically already won the season series, as they lead it 4-2 going into tonight. But they certainly don’t want to drop back-to-back games against Vernon before the playoffs get going. Remember, Vernon is only four back of second place, which they still have a shot at securing. The Vees are trying to move closer to clinching a division regular season pennant. Oh and yes, bragging rights are up for grabs between these two long-time rivals. Plenty to play for.
- Despite losing eight days ago, the Vees played pretty well against Vernon, they just lacked finish around the net. The Vipers only scored one even strength goal in that game, as the game-winner was scored on a penalty-shot early in the third. The Vipers were pretty good at keeping the Vees away from the middle of the ice. The Vees will need to make a conscious effort to play between the face-off dots.
- To the line-up, Olivier Mantha gets the start and is coming off a great performance Tuesday in West Kelowna. Mantha was also outstanding against the Vipers, in the Vees last visit to Kal-Tire Place back on January 24th. Mantha comes into tonight’s action with a 16-8-0 record, while sporting a 2.21 goals-against average and owns a .915 save percentage; he’s 2-1 against the Vipes this year.
- Last night it was Cam Amantea playing in place of the injured Travis Blanleil and tonight it would appear Josh Blanchard draws back into the line-up. Amantea was effective on a line with Max Coatta and Matt Serratore Friday, and Blanchard has played with those two before; seamless transition.
- When the Vees are success against Vernon, they’re using their speed effectively. Whether it’s in the transition game, going quickly from offense to defense, or on the fore-check, with an aggressive “F-1” causing problems for the Vernon defenders. Vernon has size yes, well all know that by now, but if the Vees can get them to start chasing, then they can create openings. The last time the Vees were in Vernon they pasted the Vipers 6-1, and at the root of their success was speed. Vernon in that game, had a hard time keeping up with the Vees over the course of 60 minutes ; they got tired and started to started to chase. Fatigue leads to mistakes and that can lead to opportunities. The Vees can’t stop moving their feet tonight. Not for a second.
- Every time the Vees play the Vipers I bring up special teams but they seem to play a key part in this season series. Big reason why the Vees lost in the last encounter with Vernon? Their power-play. They were 0-6 with the man advantage last Friday against the Vipers. Just one goal with the power-play could have changed the makeup of that game. Vernon plays a hard-nosed game, that can sometimes lead to penalty trouble. The Vees have to make Vernon pay for their transgressions tonight. Vernon’s power-play has struggled all year, as it sits last in the BCHL at just under 15 percent. Going back to their last nine games against Vernon (going back into last year), the Vees are a perfect 21-21 on the PK (*searches for a piece of wood to knock on). It’s going to be tight five-on-five, so the Vees have to win that special teams battle. It likely will be the difference tonight.
Scoring vs. VER:
DePourcq 5-3-8 Benoit 2-1-3 Hilderman 1-0-1
Coatta 4-1-5 Blanchard 1-2-3 Sexton 1-0-1
Beauvais 1-4-5 Pierog 1-2-3 Alferd 0-1-1
McClure 2-2-4 Cooper 0-3-3 Ramsey 0-1-1
Blanleil 1-3-4 McColgan 1-1-2 Rygus 0-1-1
Dalpe 0-4-4 Stoykewych 0-2-2
Alferd: 3 game point streak (2-2-4)
Last 5 Games:
Record: 3-2-0-0 (15 GF, 10 GA)
PP: 6/22 (27.27%)
PK: 18/22 (81.82%)
Since Trade Deadline: 9-6-0-1
Vees Post-Christmas Record: 10-6-1-1 (13-8-0-2 post-Christmas break last season)
PP: Goals in last 2 games (3/8)
PK: Allowed goal against in last 3 games (9/13)
Goals: McClure (38) (2nd in BCHL)
Assists: Beauvais (43) (4th in BCHL)
Points: McClure (75) (3rd in BCHL)
PIMs: Sexton (60) (T-42nd in BCHL)
PPG: McClure (12) (2nd in BCHL)
PPA: Beauvais (23) (T-1st in BCHL)
SHG: Pierog (3) (T-5th in BCHL)
- Vernon is peaking at just the right time. After being swept by the Langley Rivermen in a home-and-home set February 7th & 8th, the Vipers have rattled off four straight wins, including back-to-back overtime wins over West Kelowna and Salmon Arm. The win streak started on February 12th in Trail, and since then the Vipers have posted wins over Penticton (2-1), West Kelowna (3-2 OT) and most recently Salmon Arm (3-2 OT). That’s a challenging stretch.
- Mason Blacklock and Danny Todosychuk returned to the Vipers line-up last night, after both missed a good chunk of games with injuries. The Vipers must be happy to get a key piece like Blacklock back with the playoffs just around the corner. Don’t discount the importance of Todosychuk, who’s insulated the Vipers goaltending position. Remember he carried the mail for a while when Austin Smith was on the shelf with his own injury.
- Blacklock and Todosychuk returned but Liam Coughlin and Demico Hannoun both were out of last night’s game. Coughlin was serving the first of his two-game suspension for a hit in last Saturday’s game against West Kelowna; Coughlin will sit out tonight too. Hannoun was listed as a scratch last night but I’m unclear what the reasoning was; game-time decision I suppose.
- No Viper is hotter than Dexter Dancs, who has three goals and nine points during a four-game point streak. In three of those four games he’s had two or more points. Dancs had two points against the Vees when these two last met, and leads the Vipers in scoring against the Vees this season, with three goals and five points in six games.
- A key in the Vipers four-game winning streak? Special Teams. They’re power-play is humming along at 20 percent in their last five games. Their penalty-kill is operating at 86 percent during that same stretch.
- Slow Starters? In their last two games, the Vipers have spotted the opposition two-goal leads in the first period, only to battle back and win in overtime. Can they Vees take advantage of that in the first?
Scoring vs. PEN:
Dancs 3-2-5 Persley 1-1-2 Bryan 0-1-1
Hannoun 0-5-5 Coughlin 0-2-2 Renz 0-1-1
Mick 1-2-3 Saharchuk 0-2-2 Statchuk 0-1-1
Blacklock 1-1-2 Citron 1-0-1
Guenther 1-1-2 Dumonceaux 1-0-1
McNicholas 1-1-2 Wilson 1-0-1
Dancs: 4 game point streak (3-6-9), 3 of 4 games have been multi point games
Guenther: 1-2-3 in last 2 games
Last 5 Games:
Record: 4-1-0-0 (17 GF, 10 GA)
PP: 3/15 (20.00%)
PK: 25/29 (86.21%)
Since Trade Deadline: 7-5-1-2
Smith: Bumped SV% up from .915 to .920 in last 3 games
Goals: Mulcahy (29) (7th in BCHL)
Assists: McNicholas (44) (3rd in BCHL)
Points: McNicholas (66) (6th in BCHL)
PIMs: Wilson (81) (14th in BCHL)
PPG: Mulcahy (11) (T-3rd in BCHL)
PPA: McNicholas (12) (T-13th in BCHL)
SHG: Blacklock (1) (T-21st in BCHL)