Game Time: 3pm
Season Series: Oct 23rd 3-2 (OT) Vees, Jan 11th at Penticton
Vees Home Record: 16-2-1-0
Vees Record vs. Mainland Division: 8-0-1-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Riley Alferd 17-22-39
Spruce Kings Road Record: 9-9-0-1
Spruce Kings Record vs. Interior Division: 4-4-0-2 (Road: 2-3-0-0)
Spruce Kings Leading Scorer: Jeremiah Luedtke 14-32-46
Matinée Showcase: The Penticton Vees host the Prince George Spruce Kings at the SOEC this afternoon, as they wrap-up a three-game week. The Vees were off Saturday after their dominant performance in a 4-1 win Friday in Coquitlam.
The Spruce Kings are finishing off a busy weekend that sees them play three games in two and a half days. Prince George lost a heartbreaker on Saturday, as the Salmon Arm Silverbacks picked up a last second win, when Josh Blanchard scored with seven-hundreds of a second left in regulation, as the ‘Backs edged PG 4-3. One night earlier in Vernon, the Spruce Kings dropped a 5-3 decision to the Vipers.
The Vees have won five of their last six dating back to December 19th and so far have won three of their first four games of 2015. The Vees also own an impressive 8-0-1-0 record against the Mainland Division and did beat PG 3-2 in double-overtime back on October 23rd.
The Spruce Kings are looking for their first win of 2015 and haven’t won a game since the Christmas break. The five-game tail spin started on December 19th with a 3-1 loss in Surrey. The Spruce Kings last won on December 18th, when they picked up a 3-1 win in Langley. After today, Prince George has five straight at home starting on January 15th.
Home Cooking: The Vees look to assert their home dominance today on PG and considering their opponents schedule, they’ll want to try and do it early. The Vees have lost just twice at home this season, as they own the best home record in the BCHL. In fact, the Vees are 16-0-1-0 against teams (not including West Kelowna) at the SOEC this season.
The Vees have won three straight home games and haven’t lost in their last six contests at the SOEC (5-0-1-0). Their last loss at home was on November 29th when, you guessed it, the West Kelowna Warriors escaped with a 4-3 win; the game-winner scored in the final half minute of regulation.
PG comes in with a 9-9-0-1 record on the road have lost three of their five road games against Interior teams; overall they’ve lost four straight away from home.
Last year the Vees shutout the Spruce Kings 2-0 at the SOEC on October 11th, 2013.
Roster Shuffling: Price George has been through the ringer this year and their roster changes reflect that. At one point the Spruce Kings were missing seven regulars from their line-up and today’s roster will look much different than the one the Vees faced in October.
Gone are Raymond Grewal, Brent Lashuk, Cooper Leitch, Valik Chichkin, Stephen Penner and Taylor Allan. In are Michael Buonincontri (second stint), Viktor Dombrovskiy, Jarryd Leung, Daniel Nachbaur, Greyden Robinson, Ryan Fritz, Cole McCaskill and most recently Nick Guerra.
The injury bug has left its scars, as Karan Toor and Justin Rai have been lost to season ending injuries. Toor hasn’t played a single game this season and Rai, who led the BCHL in scoring at one point, is lost for the year due to an upper-body injury.
Buonincontri, Robinson, McCaskill and Guerra have all been acquired in the last three weeks. Most of these rosters moves have been born out of necessity to try and field a healthy roster. GM Mike Hawes and Head Coach Dave Dupas look to have a good group on paper now and now they hope it can mesh on the ice.
Line-Up News: Hunter Miska will get the call between the pipes this afternoon as he looks for his 22nd win of the season. Miska stopped 20 of 21 shots Friday, in the Vees 4-1 win over the Express. He owns a 1.82 goals-against average and a neat .931 save-percentage.
Matt Serratore is still on the shelf recovering from his leg injury but is expected to resume his rehab in Penticton next week. Mile Gendron did sit out Friday, as he was resting a lingering injury but will be a game-time decision this afternoon.
The Spruce Kings will only dress five defensemen this afternoon due to the injury to Ryan Fritz and the absence of Greydon Robinson (presumably injured too). Jesse Jenks gets the start for PG and he’s 11-10-0 on the season with a 3.36 goals-against average and a .909 save-percentage; he’s 0-1 against the Vees this year.
Broadcast info: I’m on the air at 2:40pm with the Cherry Lane Shopping Centre pre-game show; puck drop 3pm. I’ll be flying solo today as my broadcast partner Trevor Miller is in Kelowna calling the Final in the annual KIMMT tournament (Kelowna International Midget Tournament). Listen on EZ Rock AM 800 or watch a pay-per-view webcast at www.fasthockey.com