The Penticton Vees head up north along Okanagan lake to face the West Kelowna Warriors at Royal LePage Place tonight. This is the first of seven meetings between this two rivals and the first of three in West Kelowna for the Vees.
Penticton is coming off a 6-2 Friday over the winless Surrey Eagles and West Kelowna was idle on Friday, after winning 8-3 at home over Trail on Tuesday. This is both teams last game before the BCHL Bauer Showcase in Chilliwack which gets going on Thursday.
September 19th at West Kelowna
October 9th at Penticton
October 21st at Penticton
November 13th at West Kelowna
December 18th at West Kelowna
December 19th at Penticton
February 12th at Penticton
Two changes to the Vees line-up as Anthony Brodeur will make his second start and Seamus Donohue will draw back into the line-up in place of Sam Jones. Brodeur picked up his first career win on Wednesday against Vernon and in four periods of action, has only allowed two goals.
- Discipline: It can’t be stressed enough when these two teams play one another. It’s always heated, emotions run high and it seems like the team that stays out of the penalty-box wins. Recent history tells you that team is the Vees but the Warriors have a lot of weapons up front and have scored six, yes SIX, power-plays goal already, so the Vees can’t get stuck in the “sin bin” tonight. Vernon historically has been the Vees most bitter rival but in the last few years, you could argue the Vees, Warriors rivalry has been the most heated. Just look at exhibition, as the two teams combined for 104 penalty-minutes on September 2nd. 104 and that was pre-season. West Kelowna likes to play a physical brand of hockey when facing the Vees, so they’ll have to be careful not to get caught up in the moment.
- Even, Steven: Playing off our first key, the Vees can’t let this game be a special teams battle. Hey, their penalty-kill is operating at 90 percent right now but the Warriors power-play is smoking hot. Did I mention they have SIX power-play goals in three games? Good grief. Don’t give Liam Blackburn, Jonathan Desbiens or the likes of Kylar Hope looks on the power-play. Keep this game at even strength and make their skilled guys earn their chances.
- Let History, Be History: Basically, all three keys are hammering the same point. Discipline. Because, time after time, it’s the difference between winning and losing when these two play. Last year the two teams had a memorable and emotional five-game series last spring and there is four Vees and nine Warriors who played in that series. Did I mention these two teams don’t like each other? The Vees need to focus on the task at hand and that’s getting two points against a divisional opponent and sweeping their three-game schedule this week. There will be some feisty moments I’m sure tonight but the Vees have to focus on playing between whistles. Don’t get caught up in the “extra-curricular” activities.
West Kelowna as mentioned has returned nine players from lat year’s squad, including leading scorer Liam Blackburn. Also back is dynamic forwards Jonathan Desbiens and Kylar Hope. One newcomer that’s off to a good start is forward Reed Gunville who has five assists in three games. Like last year, the Warriors have some pop in their offensive and have a handful of players that can hurt you on the scoresheet.
They also have a nice mix of brawn, as Kyle Marino is a handful up front but also can put the puck in the net. On the blue-line Rylan Yaremko and Nic Rutigliano make you earn every inch of ice in the Warriors end and usually leave the opposition forwards with a few bumps and bruises at the end of the night.
As I mentioned, the Tribe is off to a good start, picking up wins over Merritt, on opening night, and Trail on Tuesday. This might be their biggest test in the very early going and I’m sure they’re jazzed up to face the Vees. I think the feeling is mutual for Penticton