LISTEN (Yes, we’re on the radio tonight!)
The Penticton Vees wrap-up their Showcase schedule against the Chilliwack Chiefs tonight at Prospera Centre. Yesterday afternoon the Vees made it four-straight wins, beating the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 4-1. The Chiefs didn’t play on Day 1 and will be playing back at home for just the second time this season.
Tyson Jost led the way yesterday for the Vees, as the Captain bagged a hat-trick in the Vees win. Read all about yesterday’s game HERE.
The Chiefs had a rough road trip last weekend through the BC Interior as they mustered just a single point out of a three-game trip. They lost in Merritt (4-3), Vernon (8-3) and then tied Salmon Arm (4-4). Never an easy road trip for teams to do, especially early when you’re still trying to iron out the wrinkles.
After tonight the Vees return to Penticton and are off until next Friday when they host the Merritt Centennials at the SOEC. The Chiefs play the Victoria Grizzlies in the nightcap on Day 3 of the Showcase tomorrow.
- Snowball: The Vees will want to carry over the momentum from yesterday to tonight and against a hungry team in Chilliwack. The Vees have a good thing going right now, as they’re playing some good hockey at both ends of the rink and their special teams are starting to take off. They’ve won four in a row and you don’t want to have that streak end with a clunker tonight against the home team. They’ll need another balanced approach and will need to bring some energy against a team playing in front of their fans for just the second time this season; the first time since September 12th. Like yesterday, managing momentum will be crucial.
- Don’t Get Pinched: Much like Alberni Valley, the Chilliwack Chiefs have an active defense that isn’t shy about joining the offense and pinching up into the play. The Vees will have to cognizant of the active blue-line Chilliwack employs. That means the Vees forwards have to pick up that guy or guys creeping down into the slot or through the neutral zone. The forwards will play a key role in back-tracking and not letting the Chiefs outnumber the Vees through the neutral zone and in their own end.
- Vicious Cycle: The Chiefs have a skilled, fast group of forwards that want to get the puck down low and attack from the goal-line. The Vees can’t let the Chiefs establish that cycle game and will have to make sure they’re not outnumbered below their own circles. Guys like Jordan Kawaguchi are smaller in stature but like water bugs on the ice; they’re always moving. Don’t get caught puck watching and running in circles. The Vees will have to lean on guys and force turnovers by being physical on the puck carrier.
The Vees will more than likely ice the same line-up as they had on Thursday afternoon. We know for sure that Anthony Brodeur will get the call between the pipes and why not? He’s undefeated as a starter, sporting a 3-0-0 record and owns an eye-popping .956 save-percentage. No changes up front and when we get to the rink, we’ll see if there’s any tinkering on the back-end. Hard to meddle with the blue-line, considering the team has only surrendered six goals in their last four games.
I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about this year’s addition of the Chiefs and like you, I’ll be learning about them as we go tonight. They do have some speed and skill upfront and that’s highlighted by Captain Jordan Kawaguchi but there’s a lot of new faces surrounding him. They have some AP’s from last year that are now full-time guys, like Ryan Roseboom, Jesse Lansdell and Kohen Olischefski. Also Mitch Skapski returns to the Chiefs after spending the last three seasons in the WHL. One newcomer who’s made some noise is Vimal Sukumaran, who leads the team in scoring with four goals and six points. Sukumaran played the last couple of seasons at Salisbury Prep School in the States and on the Connecticut Wolf Pack U-18 travel team; he was one of eight Wolf Pack players that committed to the Chiefs over the summer.
That blue-line is a bit more seasoned as they have Mark Esposito, Bennett Morrison and Dennis Cholowski all back from last-year. Sprinkle ex-WHL product Austin Adam and that’s four experienced players out of their regular six. Back in goal is Aidan Pelino and looking to improve on an up and down rookie campaign. Joining Pelino in the net is Matteo Esposito, the younger brother of Mark.