Season Series: September 26th 3-1 Vees, November 1st at SOEC, December 3rd at SOEC, January 17th at Trail, January 30th at SOEC, January 31st at Trail, February 14th at Trail.
Vees Home Record: 7-0-0-0
Vees Record vs. Interior Division: 9-1-0-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Lewis Zerter-Gossage 9-13-22
Smoke Eaters Road Record: 3-3-0-0
Smoke Eaters Record vs. Interior Division: 2-3-0-0
Smoke Eaters Leading Scorer: Jake Lucchini 8-14-22
A Stiffer Test Awaits: The Vees will face a much different opposition tonight when they host the Trail Smoke Eaters at the SOEC tonight. After a pair of very lopsided wins against Surrey this week, the Vees will put their 12-game win streak on the line against a much improved Trail team. Nick Dechenes club holds down fourth spot in the ultra-competitive Interior Division and they’re coming off a 7-5 win at home over Merritt Friday. Trail is 3-2-0-0 in their last five games and looking for their win against the Vees in their second try. The Smokies are loaded to bear offensively, with the likes of Jake Lucchini, Charlie Zuccarini, Scott Davidson and Craig Martin. Their top six is as good as any other teams’ in the BCHL.
Divisional Showdown: Divisional points are so crucial, as they are the most telling stat in where you sit in the standings. Tonight is the Vees eleventh game against an Interior team and they’ve been great against their own division as they sport a 9-1-0-0 record; a big reason why they have a 12-point cushion on second place. At the other end is Trail and that’s not because of wins or losses, just the simple fact they’ve hardly played any divisional games this season. Coming into tonight, the Smokies have only play five of their 13 games against an Interior team. They’re 2-3-0-0 against their own Division with wins against Merritt and Salmon Arm. They’ve lost twice to Salmon Arm and once to the Vees. Half of the Smoke Eaters games in November are against the Interior, including four of their next five. It’s time for them to make hay.
A Well Oiled Machine: That’s how you could describe the Vees offense right now as they boast a well balanced line-up. During their run, it hasn’t been just one line doing all the heavy lifting. Friday it was the trio of Riley Alferd, Jack Ramsey and Matt Serratore combining for five goals and nine points. Cam Amantea, Cody DePourcq and Mitch Newsome had three goals and six points as a line. Those two lines are penciled in as the Vees “third” and “fourth” units. That’s not to mention the two goals and six points the line of Demico Hannoun, Patrick Newell and Lewis Zerter-Gossage accumulated Friday. It’s coming from everywhere right now for Penticton and that was a big reason for their success in October.
Special Teams Showdown: A key to Trail’s early season success has been the play of their special teams units. Their power-play is ranked seventh overall but it’s fourth on the road, operating a hair over 27 percent. Their penalty-kill is even better, as its tops in the BCHL at 84.75 percent. They’ve only allowed one power-play goal against on 13 opportunities in the last two games and scored a short-handed marker two games ago; they’ve only given up three power-play goals in five games. The Vees special teams will be challenged tonight and this might just be the area where this game is won or lost.
Welcome back, Pat: The Vees welcome back Patrick Sexton to the line-up, as the Co-Captain plays for the first time since September 27th. Sexton was injured in practice before the Vees home-opener back on October 3rd. Sexton’s presence will be welcomed on the blue-line, as he’ll add another element to the Vees already stingy defensive core. The Vees will still be short a forward up front so they’ve called up 15-year-old forward Michael Rasmussen from the OHA’s Midget Prep team. Rasmussen will slide in with Steen Cooper and Josh Laframboise on the Vees second line.