Game Time: 7pm
Season Series: Oct 17th 3-1 Vees, Oct 25th 1-0 Vees, Nov 14th 4-2 Vees, Dec 5th 4-3 Vees, Jan 2nd at Penticton, Feb 11th at Penticton and February 27th at Penticton.
Vees Home Record: 14-2-1-0
Vees Record vs. Interior: 17-4-1-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Riley Alferd 17-18-35
Vipers Home Record: 10-5-0-1
Vipers Record vs. Interior: 12-7-0-2
Vipers Leading Scorer: Liam Coughlin 14-28-42
Ringing in the New Year: The Vees play their first game of 2015 tonight when the host the second place Vernon Vipers at the SOEC. It’s the Vees first game since December 20th, a span of 13 days between games. The Vees ended 2014 on a high note, sweeping the West Kelowna Warriors in a home-and-home series before the annual BCHL Christmas break.
The Vees went into the Christmas break with a 28-5-2-1 record, 12 points up on Vernon for top spot in the Interior but the Vipers do have one game in hand on the Vees. The Vees have had the Vipers number this year, as they’ve won all four meetings thus far against Vernon in the seven-game season series. These two rivals last met on December 5th in Vernon, where they Vees tripped up the Snakes 4-3. After tonight the Vees and Vipers go at it again on February 11th and wrap up the season series on February 27th.
Reinforcements: The Vees had five presents under the Christmas tree and they’ll be unwrapped tonight. Back in the line-up is Gabe Bast, Dante Fabbro, Demico Hannoun, Tyson Jost and Jack Ramsey. Bast, Fabbro, Hannoun and Jost missed the last five games before the break, as they were at the 2014 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge with Team Canada West. Ramsey missed the last two games with an upper-body Injury after going down on December 14th against Chilliwack.
That was 43 goals missing from the line-up in the Vees last two games and 33 goals missing in the previous three; roughly about 40 percent of their scoring was absent. The only player still missing from the Vees line-up is Matt Serratore, who is recovering from an ankle injury sustained in late November.
Scholarly Blue-Liner: The Vees did announce Friday that defenseman Gabe Bast has committed to the University of North Dakota. Bast, 18, is enjoying a great rookie campaign in the BCHL. The Red Deer, Alberta product leads all Vees defensemen in scoring, with three goals and 22 points in 30 games.
Bast was one of four Vees who played for Canada West at the recently completed 2014 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Saskatchewan. He finished tied for third in team scoring with two goals in four games, as Canada West finished sixth. Penticton and UND have quite the connection, as four Vees alumni are currently playing for North Dakota this season. Mark MacMillan, Brendan O’Donnell, Troy Stecher and Wade Murphy are all wearing the green & black for UND this year. Bast is the 15th player on the Vees roster to secure an NCAA commitment.
The Scouting Report: The Vipers ended 2014 on a high, as they went into the Christmas break with a 5-2 win over Powell River back on December 20th. In fact, the Vipers were the hottest team in the BCHL going into the break, as they are 7-3-0-0 in their last 10 games; the best of any BCHL team.
It appears the Vipers got some good news on the injury front as well. Goalie Danny Todosychuk appears to be tonight’s starter and if that holds true, it will be his first start since November 28th. Todosychuk has only appeared in nine games this year for Vernon as he’s battle various ailments and had to serve a suspension. When he has played, he’s been very good, as Todosychuk sports a 7-2 record to go along with an impressive .922 save-percentage; he also has three shutouts.
20-year-old Liam Coughlin leads the Vipers in scoring, as he has a team best 28 assists and 42 points in 34 games. Thomas Aldworth, who at one time led the Vipers in scoring, is right behind Coughlin with 26 goals and 37 points. Aldworth’s 26 goals is second-best in the BCHL, as he only trails Coquitlam’s Corey Mackin who has an astonishing 35 in 36 games.
Despite losing all four to the Vees, the Vipers have been a very tough out for Penticton. Empty-net goals aside, three of the four meetings this year have been decided by just one goal. The last time the Vipers were in Penticton they dropped 1-0 decision to the Vees on October 25th.
The Vipers have been very good against the Interior otherwise, as they sport a 12-3-0-2 record against the teams not named Penticton.