Venue: The Q Centre
Season Series: October 18th 2-1 Vees, Nov 7th at Victoria
Vees Road Record: 8-1-0-0
Vees Record vs. Island Division: 2-0-0-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Lewis Zerter-Gossage 9-14-23
Grizzlies Home Record: 3-3-0-1
Grizzlies Record vs. Interior Division: 2-2-0-1
Grizzlies Leading Scorer: Dane Gibson 4-14-18
Rebounding: The Vees are looking to bounce back after a hard-fought 3-2 loss to West Kelowna on Wednesday night. That game marked the end of the Vees 13-game winning streak as there only other previous lost was back on September 27th in Merritt. The Vees will have some reinforcements in the line-up tonight, as Patrick Sexton returns after missing Wednesday’s game and Zach Funk makes his Vees debut. The Vees are 1-0 after a loss this season and that was a big 5-1 win in their Home Opener against Salmon Arm. Can they do it again tonight?
New Face: As mentioned newcomer Zach Funk will make his debut tonight against the Grizzlies. Funk was most recently with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs before the Vees picked up his rights. Funk broke into the league as a16-year-old with the ‘Dogs and posted a career best 10 goals last year. The Nanaimo, BC, product is with the Vees to help provide some depth and welcomed experience to the line-up. He’s got a good sized frame as well, checking in at 6’2 and weighing in around a buck eighty-five. His skill set and size will come in handy against a physical Victoria club that made it clear in their local newspaper that they want to go after the Vees physically.
Close Call: It was a one-goal affair back on October 18th, when the Vees got by the Grizzlies 2-1 at the SOEC and don’t expect anything different tonight. The Grizzlies play a tight-checking style that seems to bring about close games. In fact, all but two of their fifteen games this year have been decided by one goal. Their streak of 11 straight one-goal games came to an end last Saturday, when they dumped the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 5-2 in Port Alberni. The Grizz don’t score a whole heck of a lot, as they’re in the bottom four in terms of goals for (53) in the BCHL but they also don’t give up much; sixth fewest goals allowed (53). Expect this one to be like the previous matchup in October.
War of Words: There have been some colour comments between these two teams already this year and the embers were stoked after the Vees win on October 18th. Victoria Grizzlies Head Coach Brad Knight said this to the media following the loss, “Penticton is a real good team but when we play them again, I have no qualms saying we’re going to beat them.” Vees Head Coach Fred Harbinson responded with, “All I’ll say is that I’ll take my 298th win in this league over how many he’s had. I’ve learned a long time ago when you get to this level to keep your mouth shut and move forward.”
The flames were fanned this morning when Grizzlies forward Storm Wahlrab had this to say about tonight’s rematch “We feel like they’re (Vees) young and small, and not very physical, so we want to pound them and get into their zone. We think we’re way bigger than them and tougher. Their weakness is their physicality and we’re going to push them on that.”
Special Teams: With all this talk about physicality and being tough, there might be a good chance we see plenty of special teams play tonight, as the emotions I’m sure will be running high. The Vees power-play has come together since the end of October as they’re 9-22 in their last five games with the man-advantage. On the flip side, the Vees will need a hard-nosed effort but they’ll have to walk that fine line and not have a parade to the penalty box. The Grizz own the league’s best power-play at 30.51 percent and did score their only goal against the Vees with the man-advantage on October 18th. Remember, the Vees are going with 11 forwards so discipline is crucial to spread out the minutes at the start of a busy road trip. Penalties mean certain players get taxed with more special teams minutes; a recipe for a long weekend.