Game Time: 7pm
Season Series: Jan 7th at Penticton, Jan 9th at Coquitlam
Vees Home Record: 15-2-1-0
Vees Record vs. Mainland Division: 6-0-1-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Riley Alferd 17-18-35
Express Road Record: 6-10-1-2
Express Record vs. Interior Division: 2-4-1-2
Express Leading Scorer: Corey Mackin 37-28-65
UPDATE: Vees have traded Connor Russell to the Cowichan Valley Capitals for future considerations. More info HERE
Bouncing Back: The Vees look to start a new win streak in the New Year, when they host the Coquitlam Express tonight for the first and only time in the regular season. Salmon Arm snapped the Vees three-game run last Saturday, shutting out the Vees 3-0 at the Shaw Centre; just their second shutout loss this season.
Good news about a loss? The Vees are 5-1-0-0 this season after losing the game prior and have outscored their opponents 20-13 in those six games. In fact, they’ve only allowed more than two goals once in those six games. After each of their last three losses, the Vees managed to bounce back and win the very next game.
The tonight is the start of a home-and-away set with the Express, as the two teams wrap-up the two-game season series Friday back in Coquitlam. Last year the Express took both games against the Vees, winning 3-1 at home and 2-1 in overtime in Penticton to sweep the two-game set; that too was a home-and-away series. The Express have actually wontwo of their last three visits to the SOEC dating back to the 2010-2011 season. As mentioned earlier, the Express won in OT 2-1 last season but lost big, 11-0 at the SOEC two seasons ago. Coquitlam didn’t make the trip to Penticton in the 2011-2012 season but on January 21st, 2011, they beat the Vees 5-3. Since the SOEC opened, the Vees are 2-1-0-1 against the Express at home.
Derailing Engine Number 20: If the Vees are going to come away with two points tonight, they’ll have to find a way to keep Corey Mackin off the scoresheet. Mackin leads the entire BCHL in goals (37) and points (65) heading into Wednesday’s action. The Philadelphia native is 11 points clear of teammate and line-mate Brett Supinski for top spot in the BCHL scoring race.
Mackin’s 37 goals are nine better than the next best forward in the BCHL, which happens to be Vernon’s Thomas Aldworth (28). The Ferris State commitment accounts for 26 percent of the Express’ goals this season and he has 30 more points than the highest scoring Vee (Riley Alferd + Patrick Newell). Mackin is on pace to score 56 goals and is flirting with the 100 point plateau.
Mackin plays the left-wing on the Express’ top-line with Brett Supinski (26-28-54) and Brendan Lamont (14-27-41). The three account for 56 percent of the Express offense so if the Vees can muzzle that trio they should be in good shape; considering the Express are without Joey Santucci (10-20-30) and Colton Kerfoot (6-12-18). Coquitlam will only be dressing 11 forwards tonight but just nine regulars as they have two AP’s in the line-up. Outside of their top-line the other six regular forwards combined only have 24 goals.
Fire up the Power-Play: Statistically speaking, the Vees have excelled in most categories with the exception of their power-play. Entering tonight’s action, the man-advantage sits in the middle of the pack at 22.62 percent, good enough for eighth. The Vees haven’t scored a power-play goal in their last two games (0-4) and will look to break that goose-egg tonight.
The Express penalty-kill, percentage-wise, has struggled this year as they own the league’s worst PK at 73.53 percent. Coquitlam has allowed seven power-play goals in their last five games but don’t let those numbers fool you. The Express maybe lack some structure on the PK but can hurt you even though they’re down a skater. They have the second-most short-handed goals in the BCHL (8) and are only behind Chilliwack (9). Mackin leads the BCHL in short-handed goals with six, as no other player in the league has more than three.
If the Vees can force Coquitlam to actually defend on the penalty-kill, they might find a way to get a goal or two. The Express are a team that likes to run-and-gun but the key is making them play in their own end.
Line-Up News: Brendan Barry makes his 11th start of the season tonight and his first since December 17th in Merritt. The 17-year-old Kelowna product is an impressive 9-1-0-0 in his rookie campaign, while sporting a tidy 1.92 goals-against average and .912 save-percentage. Barry is 3-0-0 against the Mainland Division and has two shutouts in those three starts.
Cam Amantea likely slide back into the line-up tonight after sitting out Saturday’s loss in Salmon Arm to rest a nagging injury. Miles Gendron (soreness) and Dakota Conroy will sitout tonight. Gendron is resting a nagging injury and Conroy will miss tonight’s game after picking up a knock last Saturday.
As mentioned earlier, the Express are without a few regulars, as Joey Santucci, Colton Kerfoot, Cameron Bertsch and Anthony Gardner are out of the line-up. The Express have called up Cameron Rose and Josh Smith from the Langley Knights to fill out the roster.