Venue: Langley Events Centre
Game Time: 7pm
Listen: EZ Rock AM 800
Season Series: November 19th 4-1 Vees, November 28th at Langley
Vees Road Record: 11-2-0-1
Vees Record vs. Mainland Division: 5-0-0-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Riley Alferd 16-13-29
Rivermen Home Record: 7-3-1-1
Rivermen Record vs. Interior Division: 4-4-0-1
Rivermen Leading Scorer: Kevan Kilistoff 12-12-24
Visiting a Familiar Foe: Just nine days removed from their last encounter, the Vees and Langley Rivermen go at it again tonight at the Langley Events Centre. The Vees were 4-1 winners back on November 19th in Penticton, scoring three unanswered for their third win in a row. The Vees have since extended that win streak to five games with a pair of wins against Merritt last weekend.
Matt Serratore scored twice in the win against Langley last week and Tyson Jost added a single. Serratore has since been diagnosed with a broken ankle after taking a spill last Saturday in Merritt; Serratore is expected to miss the next six-eight weeks. The Vees and Rivermen were tied after 20 minutes last week, as it was hard-hitting first period at the SOEC. The Vees did find an extra gear in the second, scoring twice and then added another for good measure in the third.
The Vees are coming off of a 5-3 come-from-behind win over Merritt six-days ago. Penticton erupted for a four-goal third period after trailing 2-1 through forty-minutes. The Vees two newest additions combined for three goals in that third period, as Dakota Conroy scored twice and Connor Chartier scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
Langley got back into the win column Wednesday in Surrey, taking down the Eagles 3-1. All the scoring was down in a four-goal first period. Zac Masson, Evan Anderson and Jacob Kearley scored for Langley and Darren Martin stopped 37 of 38 shots in the win.
The Rivermen will want to have a better showing on home ice tonight, as their coming off a 4-0 home loss last Saturday to Vernon. The Vipers scored twice in the first and added two more in the third and outshot Langley 47-24.
An Important Weekend: Challenging weekend ahead for the Vees, as they’re playing the third place team in the Mainland Division tonight, before heading back to Penticton to face the Interior’s second-best team in the West Kelowna Warriors Saturday. The Vees experienced a similar weekend schedule earlier this month, when they were in Surrey on Halloween night before returning the next night to Penticton to face Trail. Remember, Saturday’s game will start just under 24 hours after puck drop Friday in Langley; quick turnaround.
This weekend also signals the final 10 game stretch before the annual Christmas break. It’s a challenging chunk of the Vees schedule, as they play 10 games in 23 days and seven of the eight opponents have records at or above 500. The remaining pre-Christmas schedule is balanced in the sense the Vees have five games at home and on the road.
After this weekend the Vees open December with a home game against Trail on December 3rd, then it’s Vernon, Powell River, Salmon Arm, Chilliwack, Merritt and West Kelowna (home-and-home).
Like Langley tonight, the Vees have been looking forward to a rematch with West Kelowna. The Warriors ended Penticton’s 13-game win streak back on November 5th at the SOEC with a 3-2 win. That was the Vees first loss since September 27th; they’ve only lost twice since.
History at the LEC: This is the Vees first and only regular season visit to the Langley Events Centre. The Vees have fared well in the five-year old building as they’re 3-0-1-0 at the LEC since the fall of 2009. Last season the Vees and Rivermen played to a thrilling 1-1 tie on October 13th, 2013. Hunter Miska and then Rivermen goaltender Steven Myland were terrific at either end.
The Vees last win at the LEC was two seasons ago on January 12th, 2013, as they took down the Rivermen 5-1. The Vees didn’t visit the LEC during the 2011-2012 season due the BCHL’s scheduling structure that year. Prior to that, they won 6-5 in overtime on January 15th, 2011, and 2-1 on November 7th, 2009.
Langley has been a very good home team this season, sporting a 7-3-1-1 record at the LEC. They are however coming off that 4-0 loss to Vernon in their last home game on November 22nd. The Rivermen are 4-1-0-0 in their last five home games, with the only blemish being that loss to Vernon; they’ve outscored their opponents 15-10 in those five games.
Getting Ahead: Sounds cliché but playing with the lead will be a main story line tonight and the numbers reflect that. The Vees are 8-0-0-0 when they lead after the first and an impressive 17-1-0-0 when they lead after two periods; a combined 25-1-0-0 when leading after the first and second periods. Compare that to their record when trailing after two (3-1-0-0), which isn’t bad but it’s 14 less wins.
The Rivermen starts haven’t been a problem, as they’ve scored first in 15 of their 26 games this season but it’s the second and third periods that have proven to be a bit tricky. Langley is 9-3-0-2 when leading after the first but 0-5-0-0 when trailing after one period. Like most times they thrive when playing ahead but have had trouble trying to come back in games. When they have the upper hand their near lights out, as they’re a perfect 10-0 when leading after two periods, but winless when they’re down after two (0-7-1-1).
The first meeting between these two shed some light on these trends, as it was a 1-1 game after the first but the Vees scored twice in the second and pulled away for a 4-1 win. Langley coaches and players commented on needing to have a more consistent effort in the final forty-minutes today in a video preview on the team’s website. They know they put together one solid period against Penticton but are looking for two more to try to earn a series split.
The Vees have been trending in a different direction than the Riv’, as they’ve shown to be a more second half type of team. The Vees won their last two games, despite trailing after two periods. In fact, in those last two games, they’ve outscored their opponent (Merritt) 6-1 in the third and overtime periods. The Vees are an impressive 14-3-0-1 when tied or trailing after the first and 5-2-0-0 when tied or trailing after forty-minutes.
Both teams want good starts but more importantly, both teams are looking for a consistent effort tonight.
This & That: All signs point to 17-year-old Brendan Barry getting the start for the Vees tonight. Barry was Saturday’s winner, stopping 24 of 27 shots in the 5-3 win over Merritt. The Kelowna, BC, product is a perfect 7-0-0-0 to start the season with a goals-against fewer than two and a .913 save-percentage. Hunter Miska is your probable starter tomorrow against West Kelowna.
With the absence of Matt Serratore (broken ankle), the Vees have juggled a few of their lines ahead of tonight’s encounter with Langley. Cod DePourcq swaps spots with Lewis Zerter-Gossage, as DePourcq will centre Dakota Conroy and Connor Chartier. “Zerts” will play with Riley Alferd and Jack Ramsey on a new look line. Mitch Newsome draws back into the line-up and will play alongside Steen Cooper and Cam Amantea. The Vees line of Patrick Newell, Tyson Jost and Demico Hannoun remains intact.
Speaking of Newell; the “Kettle” is looking to extend his BCHL-best point streak to 14 games. Newell has four goals and 18 points during his run, which started back on October 26th in Salmon Arm.
Langley’s Marcus Vela has a goal and six points in his last five games. He had two assists in Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Surrey and has four points in his last two games. Jacob Kearley is pitching in offensively, as the blue-liner has two goals and three points in five games. He scored a highlight reel end-to-end goal last Friday night; the goal has been featured on TSN’s website.