Venue: Frank Crane Arena
Season Series: Nov 8th 3-2 (OT) Nanaimo, Feb 13th 4-2 Penticton
Vees Round-Robin Schedule
March 25th 4-1 win vs. Nanaimo
March 29th 4-3 win (OT) at Chilliwack
March 31st 5-2 win vs. Chilliwack
April 2nd at Nanaimo 7pm
The Penticton Vees wrap up their BCHL Double Round-Robin schedule on Vancouver Island tonight, as they face the Nanaimo Clippers at Frank Crane Arena. The Vees are already assured a spot in the BCHL Fred Page Cup Final after their 5-2 win over the Chilliwack Chiefs Tuesday. Nanaimo can join the Vees in the league final with a win tonight.
This is the second meeting between these two teams in the Round-Robin, as they opened the third round in Penticton eight days ago. Nanaimo opened the scoring but the Vees scored four unanswered goals in a 4-1 win.
Miles Gendron paced the attack in that win with three assists and Riley Alferd, Dante Fabbro, Dakota Conroy and Pat Newell bulged the twine for the Vees. Cole Maier was the only Clipper to get a shot past the Vees Hunter Miska.
The Vees are in a unique situation tonight, as they have already booked their spot in the Fred Page Cup and tonight’s game has no bearing on their position in the BCHL Double Round-Robin. The Clippers are trying to clinch that last remaining spot in the league final and can do so with a win. If the Vees beat Nanaimo, it would be Nanaimo and Chilliwack playing Saturday in Chilliwack. The Chiefs are on the sidelines tonight and are cheering for a Penticton win to extend their season to at least one more game.
No one is hotter on the Vees than Connor Chartier right now, as the 21-year-old has four goals and eight points in his last six games; he’s put together back-to-back two-point games. Chartier had a goal and an assist in the last two games against Chilliwack. Demico Hannoun led the Vees in scoring against Nanaimo in the regular season, picking up two goals and three points in two games.
The Vees are back in Nanaimo for the first time since November 8th, when they dropped a 3-2 overtime decision. Jacob Jackson was the OT hero for Nanaimo, scoring 64-seconds into the extra frame. Jackson leads the Clippers in playoff goal-scoring with eight and is tied with three others for the team point lead. Jackson, Nic Gushue, Brett Roulston and Brendan Taylor all have 12 points.
Gushue is the highest scoring defenseman in the BCHL but is tailed by Dante Fabbro and Miles Gendron who are right behind the Clippers rear-guard as both have 10 points.
The Vees have confirmed one change to their line-up ahead of Thursday’s contest, as Brendan Barry will get his first career playoff start in goal. Hunter Miska had started the Vees previous 15 playoff games but will be getting a well-deserved night off. Barry had a seven-minute relief appearance against Vernon in his first taste of playoff hockey.
Guillaume Decelles has played every minute, of every Clippers playoff games and the 20-year-old puck-stopper is the probable starter for Nanaimo tonight. Decelles is 9-7 with a tidy 2.28 goals-against average and a .932 save-percentage.
Nanaimo has been excellent at home in the post-season, owning a league-best 8-1 record at Frank Crane Arena. The Vees are 4-2 away from the SOEC in the post-season and have strung together back-to-back road wins going back to game six against Vernon.
After tonight, the Vees are back home to open the BCHL Fred Page Cup Final on Friday, April 10th. The Vees still don’t know who they’ll play but face-off is 7pm for game one and tickets are already on-sale at the Valley First box office (at the SOEC).