First, it was a big news day Thursday, as the Penticton Vees announced they were approved as hosts of the 2017 Western Canada Cup. Full story HERE.
(The obligatory hotel view from Powell River; beautiful spot)
The Penticton Vees look for their longest win streak since 2012 tonight, when the start a two-game Island Division road trip against the Powell River Kings at Hap Parker Arena; puck-drop 7 pm.
The Vees won their 13th straight Wednesday night at home, doubling up the West Kelowna Warriors 4-2. Tyson Jost scored twice and Griffin Mendel and Scott Conway added singles. Zach Driscoll was the winning goaltender, stopping 33 of 35 shots. An impressive win considering the Vees dressed just 11 forwards.
Penticton comes into this weekend banged up, as they will be missing five regulars from their line-up. Defensemen Gabe Bast and Dante Fabbro and forwards, Desi Burgart, Demico Hannoun and Jason Lavallee didn’t make the trip this weekend, as all five are sidelined with various injuries. The Vees have called up Affiliate Chase Stevenson from the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League; the 16-year-old will wear number eight. The Vees will be dressing just 11 forwards and five defensemen for both games.
There’s still plenty of talent in the line-up, including leading scorer Tyson Jost (12-16-28) and leading goal-scorer Scott Conway (13-14-27). Conway has a league-best 13-game point streak going and has scored in six straight games. Easton Brodzinski has been a nice addition to the top line, as he has scored five goals and bagged nine points in four games with Conway and Jost.
Anthony Brodeur will start tonight for the Vees and is 8-0 in eight starts, with a tidy 1.56 goals-against average and a league-best .941 save-percentage.
Under Head Coach Fred Harbinson, the Vees are 3-2-1-1 in Powell River since the 2007-2008 season and are undefeated in their last three tips to Hap Parker Arena (2-0-1-0). Last season the two teams played to an entertaining 3-3 tie in February.
The Kings enter tonight’s game in first place in the Island Division, one point up on tomorrow night’s opponent, the Cowichan Valley Capitals. The Kings had a terrific start to the season, winning eight of their first 10 games and had a seven-game win streak from September 19th to October 9th.
However, they’ve hit a bit of a bump in the road, as three of their five losses in the season have come in the last week. The Kings are coming off back to back losses to Victoria (5-2) and Cowichan Valley (3-0) last weekend; the first time this season they’ve dropped back to back games. Tonight’s game is just the second time the Kings play a team from the Interior Division, as they lost 3-0 in West Kelowna on October 10th. This is their only game of the weekend, as they don’t play again until next Wednesday in Duncan against the Capitals.
The Kings are not an explosive offensive team, as they’re ninth in Goals For in the BCHL but they’re one of the best defensive teams. Their goals against (32) is the fewest goals allowed in the league, outside of the Vees (28), and their goals against-average (2.13) is second only to the Vees (2.00). They’re known for a great work ethic instilled by long-time Head Coach Kent Lewis. Lewis recently celebrated a milestone, as the game in Cowichan Valley last Saturday was his 1,000 with the Kings as a coach or GM.
Part of the success to the Kings stingy defense has been their goaltender Jeff Smith. The 20-year-old, who came back from college hockey at UMass-Lowell, is tied for first in wins (8) and save-percentage (.941) with the Vees Brodeur. Smith is also tied for the league-lead in shutouts (2) with Salmon Arm’s Angus Redmond.
Returning forward Nick Halagian leads the team in scoring with 12 points in 15 games and is one of four Kings with 10 or more points. Tristian Mullin and Carter Turnbull share the lead in goal-scoring with six each. The Kings like to spread it around as seven players have seven or more points.
Like the Vees, the Kings have a few battered and bruised bodies. Johnny Evans and defenseman Colton Sandberg are on the shelf with lower-body injuries and Halagian is a game-time decision. Mitchell Hawes and Curtis McCarrick returned to the line-up last Saturday after missing one and two weeks respectively.