Can the Penticton Vees (12-1-0-0) make it a baker’s dozen tonight? The Vees host the West Kelowna Warriors (7-4-0-2) at the SOEC and are in search of their 13th straight win. The Vees push their win streak to 12 games over the weekend with a pair of victories over Prince George and Langley. West Kelowna is coming of a 5-2 win against PG on Saturday.
The Vees hope history doesn’t repeat itself tonight at the SOEC. A couple of weeks shy of a year ago, the Warriors halted the Vees 13-game winning streak at the SOEC, on a Wednesday. The Tribe skated to a 3-2 win on November 5th, 2014, snapping the Vees league-best 13-game run. Fast-forward to almost a year later and the Vees are facing West-K with their 12-game win streak on the line.
This is the third of seven meetings between the two South Okanagan rivals and the second of three at the SOEC. The Vees have won the first two match-ups, taking a 4-1 win out of Royal LePage Place on September 19th and then beating the Warriors 4-3 in OT back on October 9th; Scott Conway the hero just 13-seconds in to the four-on-four frame.
Speaking of Conway, he’s riding a 12-game point streak coming into tonight’s game. The 20-year-old has 12 goals and 25 points during the run, which is a BCHL best. Dante Fabbro has a nice streak of his own, as the Vees rear-guard has points in his last 10-games; he’s the top scorer among BCHL defensemen.
They’re not the only ones with the hot hand as two Warriors have fashioned together nice streaks of their own. Warriors leading scorer, Liam Blackburn has points in his last nine games and Jonathan Desbiens has points in his last five.
The Vees have been bit by the injury bug, as they have a few players nursing injuries. Gabe Bast will miss his seven straight game with a lower-body injury and Jason Lavallee and Demico Hannoun are game-time decisions.
The Warriors have welcomed back one defenseman, as Jake Harrison has returned to the line-up after missing the last game against the Vees with an undisclosed injury. Key puck-mover, Kristian Blumenschein is still out on the 30-day Injured Reserve.
Zach Driscoll is tonight’s starter and is 3-0-0 with a 2.33 goals-against average and a tidy .905 save-percentage; Driscoll was the winner Friday against PG.
Stephen Heslop will start for the Warriors tonight and is facing the Vees for the first time this season. In four games the 20-year-old Heslop is 2-2 with a 2.26 goals-against average and a.906 save-percentage. Earlier this month the Warriors signed him from the Princeton Posse of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League; Jr. B circuit here in the BC interior. He appeared in six games last year as an AP for the Tribe, including three playoff games; starting against Penticton in the playoffs too.
The SOEC has been a very tough place to play for visiting teams since it has opened and that’s no different for the Warriors. Since 2008, the Tribe are 8-16-0-1 at the SEOC and under current Head Coach Rylan Ferster, they’re 5-9-0-1 in Penticton. West Kelowna has won three games in Penticton in the last two seasons.
The Vees have a very good record in this building, now through 208 games they’re 163-30-4-11 at the SOEC; that’s an .820 winning percentage.
Coming into tonight’s game the Vees sit first, eight points up on the fourth place Warriors. Their divisional records may be why there’s some separation. The Vees have won four of their first five games against their own division, where as the Warriors have won two of their first seven divisional games. West Kelowna has dropped their last four games against an Interior team and last won a divisional game on September 15th; do they end that streak tonight too?
Not just Vees fans have also enjoyed the “Wicked Wednesdays” at the SOEC but the team as well. Since the Vees introduced the promotion two seasons ago, the Vees are 12-3-0-1 on Wednesday nights at home. Not only have fans enjoyed cheap tickets and beer but a few wins too. However, two of the three losses in regulation have come against West-K.
Add it all up and we’re in for a treat tonight. These two teams don’t know how to play a dull game when they hook up. Face-off is 7 pm.