Game Time: 7pm
Season Series: (Vees 3-1-1-0) Oct 3rd 5-1 W, Oct 4th 4-3 (OT) W, Oct 26th 3-1 W, Dec 12th 2-2 T, Jan 3rd 3-0 L, Jan 28th at PEN, Feb 28th at PEN
Vees Home Record: 18-2-1-0
Vees Record vs. Interior Division: 20-6-1-0
Vees Leading Scorer: Lewis Zerter-Gossage 17-24-41
Silverbacks Road Record: 8-10-1-3
Silverbacks Record vs. Interior Division: 11-9-1-3
Silverbacks Leading Scorer: Andrew Farny 14-32-46
The Penticton Vees continue their three-game home stand tonight as they host the Salmon Arm Silverbacks at the SOEC on a “Wicked Wednesday.” The Vees started the three-game run at home on a winning note last Friday, beating the Merritt Centennials 4-1.
The Salmon Arm Silverbacks are in the midst of a five-game stretch on the road, which started last weekend with a three-game swing through the Island Division. Salmon Arm started off well, winning 4-0 in Victoria Friday but then dropped their last two over the weekend. They lost Saturday in Port Alberni, dropping a 4-2 decision to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and then it was a 4-1 setback in Nanaimo Sunday afternoon. After tonight, it’s a home-and-home set against Vernon, starting Friday at Kal-Tire Place.
Tonight marks the sixth of seven meetings between these two divisional foes; the Vees have won three of the first five encounters but haven’t beaten Salmon Arm since October. Well, they did play the ‘Backs three times that month, winning all three, before the two tied on December 12th 2-2 and most recently Salmon Arm blanked the Vees 3-0 on January 3rd.
Salmon Arm will be or is very familiar with life on the road, as they have seven of their last 13 games away from the Shaw Centre. That makes the playoff push all the more challenging, as they trail fourth-place West Kelowna by four points but do have two-games in hand.
Despite only winning one game over the weekend, the ‘Backs did gain a point on the Warriors, as they finished with two of out a possible six points, whereas the Warriors only were able to squeeze out one on their three-game road trip.
The Vees have had the luxury of some well-earned rest but have been put through the paces in practice this week and are matching up with a team chasing down the final playoff spot in the Interior. Friday Penticton avenged one of their only two losses this month, when they beat Merritt and will look to avenge the other tonight.
Salmon Arm is only one of two teams (Merritt the other) that has held the Vees off the scoresheet this season. The ‘Backs shutout the Vees 3-0 back on January 3rd, handing them just their sixth regulation loss at the time.
Tonight also features two teams with the most point production from the blue-line in the entire BCHL. Salmon Arm leads the way with a league best 126 points but that’s just four points better than the second place Vees. The Vees seven blue-liners have combined for 17 goals and 122 points.
Salmon Arm’s backcourt offense is led by Andrew Farny, who leads all BCHL defensemen in scoring. The Steamboat Springs, Colorado, native has 14 goals and 46 points in just 45 games season; three better than Alberni Valley’s Kurt Gosselin who’s second. Farny has 25 more points than the second-highest scoring Silverbacks defenseman. Jordan Burns, acquired from Powell River in December, has 21 points in 35 games.
The Vees spread it around a bit more on their blue-line as Mike Lee leads the way after his four-point night against Merritt last Friday. Lee has a team-best 27 assists and 29 points, followed closely by Gabe Bast’s 28 points in 36 games and Dante Fabbro’s 25. The Vees are only one of two teams with three defensemen among the Top 20 in scoring by defensemen; Prince George is the other.
Tonight could be a milestone of sorts for the Vees because a win against Salmon Arm would give them 36 wins on the year, which would match last year’s total and in 12 less games. In 58 games last season, the Vees finished with a 36-16-2-1 record for 78 points. In 45 games this season they have 73 points and their magic number to clinch top spot in the division is eight (16 points away).
The Vees have been tough at home, as they own the league’s best home record at 18-2-1-0 and are undefeated in their last seven games at the SOEC (6-0-1-0); they’ve dropped just one out of a possible 14. This is Salmon Arm’s first visit to the SOEC since the Vees home opener back on October 3rd. The game didn’t start well for Penticton, as Salmon Arm opened the scoring and short-handed no less but the Vees scored five unanswered to cruise to the 5-1 victory.
The Vees are 7-2-0-0 this month and if the past few years are any indication, they love playing in January. Since 2012, the Vees are 29-7-2-1 in the month of January and have never lost more than three games in regulation in January in the last four seasons; making good on New Year’s resolutions.
Steen Cooper, Patrick Newell and Lewis Zerter-Gossage are tied for the team scoring lead against Salmon Arm as all three have four points in five games. Zerter-Gossage and Riley Alferd are tied for the goal-scoring lead with three and Cooper and Gabe Bast have the most assists (3).
Silverbacks forward Shane Danyluk has the most points out of any Salmon Arm player against Penticton. Danyluk in four games (missed one due to injury), has a goal and four points. Andrew Farny has three points, all assists and four others are tied with two points each. One odd twist is the fact that current Silverback, Josh Laframboise, has a goal and four points against his current team. Laframboise had four points in three games against Salmon Arm prior to being traded to the ‘Backs from Penticton.
As far as line-up news, the only ailing Vee is Matt Serratore who continues to rehab a leg injury but is nearing a return to the Vees line-up. The Vees will have 12 forwards and seven defensemen to choose from tonight. Hunter Miska is likely to make his seventh straight start.
Salmon Arm did place forward Logan Mick on Injured Reserve with a season-ending lower-body injury. Nick Hutchinson returns to the SOEC for the first time since breaking his ankle in the Vees home opener. The Silverbacks forward didn’t get back into the line-up until January 7th.