Venue: Royal LePage Place
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 4-2 Vees, Dec 20th at Warriors, January 20th at Warriors.
Vees Road Record: 13-3-1-1
Vees Record vs. Interior: 16-4-1-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Riley Alferd 17-17-34
Warriors Home Record: 8-6-0-1
Warriors Record vs. Interior: 9-9-0-3
Warriors Leading Scorer: Liam Blackburn 14-37-51
Act Two: 24 hours after the Vees 4-2 win at the SOEC, the two teams go at it again up the highway in West Kelowna. Tonight is the back half of the weekend home-and-home series and the Warriors now look to hold serve on home ice. The Vees did just that last night, building up a 3-1 first period lead, before taking their third win in five games against West Kelowna.
The key for the Vees was holding onto the lead, something that troubled them in their last two meetings with West Kelowna. They were an impressive 21-2-1-0 when leading after two periods going into last night’s game. I mention that stat again because the only two losses the Vees suffered this season when taking a lead into the third, was at the hands of the Warriors. So, it was huge to score the fourth goal early in the third period and then hang onto said lead.
A pretty gutsy effort from the Vees, considering they are missing six regulars from their line-up, which accounts for 41 percent of their offense. Today gets a bit more challenging, not only are they going into the opposition’s barn but they’ll be short two more forwards. Friday the Vees had three call-ups in their line-up but tonight they will only have one AP. Taylor Ward will play his second career BCHL game after making his Vees debut last night.
No doubt, a significant challenge faces the Vees tonight, with only nine regulars in their line-up upfront but it’s the last game before a lengthy Christmas break. They just have one game left before they can go home and see friends and family. Time to empty the tank.
Focus In: The returnees on this Vees squad know what happens when you’re too busy thinking about holiday plans before the final game prior to the annual Christmas break. One season ago, the Vees were in the exact same situation, heading up to West Kelowna for the final game before Christmas break. It wasn’t good. Quite the listless effort, as the Warriors thumped the Vees 4-0; it could have been worse.
I mentioned they have just one game before going home to friends and family but they have to realize there’s two big points on the table tonight. No one wants to go into an extended break on a losing note, as they would have to stew about a loss for quite some time. Remember, the Vees next game after the Christmas break isn’t till January 2nd when they host the Vernon Vipers. A win would make the break that much sweeter and shorter.
Tempo, Tempo, Tempo: When the Vees play at RLP, the tempo seems to at a higher level than any other rink. For whatever reason, it’s an up-and-down game in West Kelowna, especially with two great skating teams like the Vees and Warriors.
The transition game will be paramount, as going from defense to offense and vice versa is always key in a rink like RLP. Both teams can get up and down the ice in hurry so positioning and not getting trapped will be stressed. The Vees have to be aware of where they are on the ice at all times, especially with a shorter bench, as they can’t have tired legs stuck out on the ice. If that happens, then it can be odd-man rushes going the other way and that’s nothing but trouble.
Veterans Leading the Way: Friday the Vees veterans stepped up when they were asked to and they’ll need the same thing tonight. With a shorter bench, the guys in the line-up will be taxed with more hard minutes and especially their go-to guys. The likes of Alferd, Amantea, Cooper, DePourcq, Sexton and veteran junior players in Chartier and Conroy will be counted on. Even newbies like Lewis Zerter-Gossage and Patrick Newell will need to do some heavy lifting with the offense.
The guys mentioned above did lead on Friday and need a repeat performance tonight. The Warriors will have a chip on their shoulder and will want to salvage a weekend split, especially on home ice. The Vees can’t rest on what they did last night, as they’ll get a big push from the Warriors. Yes, these players will be taxed with more minutes then they’re accustomed too but they have over week to rest tired legs. Two points going into the break can sooth any aching muscles.