Game Time: 7pm
Season Series: Oct 10th 4-3 Vees, Oct 11th 4-0 Vees, Nov 5th 3-2 Warriors, Nov 29th 4-3 Warriors, Dec 19th at Vees, Dec 20th at Warriors, January 20th at Warriors.
Vees Home Record: 13-2-1-0
Vees Record vs. Interior: 15-4-1-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Riley Alferd 17-17-34
Warriors Road Record: 10-4-0-4
Warriors Record vs. Interior: 9-8-0-3
Warriors Leading Scorer: Liam Blackburn 14-36-50
WJAC Update: Good Hockey Canada story on Dante Fabbro and Tyson Jost. CLICK HERE
What’s on Tap: The Penticton Vees (26-5-2-1) host the West Kelowna Warriors (18-10-0-5) for the fourth and final time at the SOEC tonight. This already is the fifth meeting between these two divisional foes and they’ve split the first four games in the seven-game season series.
West Kelowna has won the last two meetings, both at the SOEC and both by one goal; three of the first four meetings have been one-goa games. Back on Saturday, November 29th, the Warriors came away with a 4-3 win after a somewhat controversial game-winning goal by the Warrior’s Brayden Gelsinger inside the final half-minute of regulation. That win for West Kelowna ended the Vees six-game winning streak and the Warriors are accustomed to that, as they ended the Vees season-high 13-game win streak earlier in November. The Warriors have won two of three games at the SOEC this year; their only loss was a 4-3 decision back on October 10th.
This is the start of a home-and-away weekend series between these two Okanagan Valley rivals. They do it all over again tomorrow at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna, and then it’s the annual Christmas break for both teams.
Vees Beat: After starting December with three straight wins, the Vees are winless in their last three (longest winless streak of the season) but they’ve picked up points in two of their last three. The Vees are coming off a disappointing 5-1 loss in Merritt on Wednesday night, as the Centennials power-play stung the Vees for two goals and handed them their first loss since November 29th. The Vees coaching staff weren’t happy with the overall effort on Wednesday and that will need to change going into a weekend double-header against the Warriors.
The Vees are still missing six regulars, four at the 2014 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Saskatchewan and two on the sideline with injury. Jack Ramsey was hurt last Sunday and missed Wednesday’s game against Merritt and will not play this weekend either. Matt Serratore is on the injured reserve recovering from a broken leg and won’t be back until late January.
To help fill the holes up front, the Vees have called up two players from the Okanagan Rockets of the BCMML. Sam Binfet, who played Wednesday, will be in the line-up again tonight, as will his Rockets teammate Brandon Whistle. Whistle, from Kelowna, will be making his BCHL debut tonight; he’ll wear number 94. Also in the line-up is 16-year-old Taylor Ward, who’s making his BCHL debut too. Ward plays next door at the Okanagan Hockey Academy.
Sizing up the Opposition: The Warriors are playing some good hockey in December, as they’ve won three in a row and four of their past five games. The Tribe beat the Trail Smoke Eaters 5-3 at home on Tuesday and that’s after a 5-1 drubbing of the Coquitlam Express last Saturday.
The Warriors boast plenty of offensive weapons, including leading scorer Liam Blackburn who’s second in the BCHL scoring race with 50 points in 33 games; Blackburn has four points in his last three games. It’s not just Blackburn, as the Warriors have three other players over the 30-point threshold. Jason Cotton (16-20-36), Brayden Gelsinger (12-23-35) and Jonathan Desbiens (17-14-31) are all averaging a point per-game. Desbiens has been a thorn in the Vees side, as he has 3 goals and 4 points in as many games against the Vees this season.
The Warriors did have some injury concerns of their own, as both their goalies, Andy Desautels and Scott Patton, were missing from the line-up Tuesday; no word on their condition for tonight.