Game Time: 7pm
Season Series: (3-3) 5-0 Cents’ Sept 27, 4-2 Vees Oct 8th, 3-2 (OT) Vees Nov 21st, 5-3 Vees Nov 22nd, 5-1 Cents’ Dec 17th, 4-1 Cents’ Jan 16th, Jan 23rd at PEN, Feb 20th at PEN
Vees Home Record: 17-2-1-0
Vees Record vs. Interior Division: 19-6-1-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Lewis Zerter-Gossage 17-24-41
Cents’ Road Record: 9-9-0-2
Cents’ Record vs. Interior Division: 13-11-0-1
Cents’ Leading Scorer: John Schiavo 20-28-48
Tonight is the seventh meeting of eight between the Penticton Vees and Merritt Centennials and the Vees are looking to return the favour on home ice. The Cents’ scored a 4-1 win over the Vees last Friday, January 17th, at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (NVMA).
The Vees struggles in Merritt this season have been well documented, as they lost three of their four trips to Merritt. Last Friday they scored the opening goal but Merritt scored the next four, as they beat the Vees for the second straight time.
With the season series split after six games, the scene shifts to the SOEC for the final two games, as they meet tonight and again on February 20th. The Vees have won both home games against Merritt this season, winning 4-2 on October 8th and 3-2 in overtime on November 21st; Tyson Jost was the OT hero on that night.
The Vees have won their last two and four of their last five and are coming off an 8-4 win in West Kelowna on Tuesday. After trailing 1-0 after the first period, the Vees scored six goals in the second period, en route their fifth win in seven games over West Kelowna. Connor Chartier recorded a hat-trick in the win and Demico Hannoun finished with a game-high four points.
Merritt saw their three-game win streak come to an end on Tuesday, as they were upset by the Trail Smoke Eaters at home. Trail erased two two-goal deficits, coming back from 3-1 and 4-2 Merritt leads. Leading up to Tuesday’s game, Merritt had three wins over Langley, Penticton and Nanaimo.
The backbone of the Cents’ strong play of late has been their goaltender Jonah Imoo. Tuesday the puck-stopper was named the BCHL Player of the Week, after going 3-0 and stopping all but six of the 103 shots he faced last week; good for a .942 save-percentage.
The Vees will have nearly a full complement of players tonight, as all but Matt Serratore are available to play. Gabe Bast, Jarod Hilderman and Lewis Zerter-Gossage are back from the CJHL Prospects Game and Miles Gendron has finished serving his two-game suspension. Hunter Miska is likely to start his fifth-straight game.
Tonight starts a three-game stretch at home for the Vees, as the host Salmon Arm next Wednesday and Trail next Friday. The Vees are 6-2-0-0 in January and 3-0-0 at the SOEC this month.