Last Night in the BCHL
It was a busy night in the BCHL Friday, as the Penticton Vees were the only team with the night off, with eight other games around the league, including all five other Interior teams in action.
Salmon Arm cut into the Vees’ lead at the top of Interior, picking up a 3-2 win Surrey and now are nine points back of the Vees. West Kelowna failed to keep pace with the Silverbacks, as they stumbled at home, losing 4-1 to Merritt; the Centennials snapped a seven-game losing streak. Vernon started their three-game road trip with a loss, getting doubled up 6-3 by the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Finally, Trail spanked tonight’s opponent, the Nanaimo Clippers, 6-1 in the West Kootenays; Trail busted out for four goals in the second.
Tonight Salmon Arm is in Langley, Vernon pays a visit to Cowichan Valley and Trail heads over to Merritt; West Kelowna has the night off.
Fred Page Cup Rematch
Tonight is a rematch of last year’s Fred Page Cup Final between Penticton (18-1-0-0) and Nanaimo (11-8-0-0). The Vees erased a two-oh series deficit and won the BCHL Final in six games, winning the clincher in Nanaimo in overtime. The Vees have four players back from last year’s squad (Gabe Bast, Dante Fabbro, Demico Hannoun and Tyson Jost) and Nanaimo has eight (Kale Bennett, Sean Buchanan, Devin Brosseau, Spencer Hewson, Yanni Kaldis and Corey Renwick).
Nanaimo is coming off that 6-1 loss in Trail Friday, as they didn’t get off to the start they wanted on their three-game Interior road trip. The game got away from them in the second, when Trail scored four times to build up a 6-0 lead. Nanaimo wraps up their trip tomorrow afternoon in West Kelowna.
The Vees have been off for six days after a busy three-game schedule last week. The Vees are playing their first home game in eight days, as they shutout Merritt 3-0 on Halloween Eve last Friday. Penticton is riding that well documented 18-game win streak and looking to stay undefeated at home; they’re 8-0-0 at the SOEC.
Fire Power versus Fire Power
Tonight’s game features the two top scoring lines in the BCHL. Penticton’s Easton Brodzinski, Scott Conway and Tyson Jost have combined for 48 goals and 102 points in 19 games. Jost and Conway are first and second in league scoring and Brodzinski has scored the most power-play goals (9).
Nanaimo’s formidable trio of Devin Brosseau, Matt Hoover and Sheldon Rempal have combined for 39 goals and 88 points coming into tonight’s game. Rempal and Hoover are third and fourth in league scoring and Brosseau is ninth. All six are inside the top 10 in BCHL scoring.
Tonight also features the two top power-plays in the BCHL. The Vees have the number one unit, clicking at 29.67 percent, the Clippers close behind at 27 percent. The difference might be the penalty-kill. The Vees are also number one in that category, where as the Clippers are 13th.
Going for Gold
There are not one but two games involving the Penticton Vees tonight, as Griffin Mendel and Team Canada White face Russia in the Gold Medal game at the World Under-17 Challenge in Dawson Creek, BC. Mendel and Canada White came from behind to beat Sweden 2-1 in one of two semi-finals Friday. Russia also came from behind and defeated Canada Red 3-2 in a shootout. The Gold Medal game is set for 6:30 pm PST / 9:30 ET. Follow on www.hockeycanada.ca/wu17
The Vees have fared well against the Island Division, as they’ve won all three of their games thus far. The Vees have picked up wins against Alberni Valley (4-1), Cowichan Valley (5-3) and Powell River (3-0). This is the first time the Vees are hosting an Island Division team.
Nanaimo split their four games in Penticton last season. They lost their only regular season visit (4-2), then lost their Round Robin match up in the playoffs (4-1), before winning the first two games of the Fred Page Cup Final (5-2, 2-1 OT). The Clippers are 2-3-0 against the Interior this season, having been outscored 22-20.
The Vees were dealt a blow this week, as Seamus Donohue had to be placed on the Injured Reserve with a longer-term upper-body injury. In a corresponding move, they went out and acquired defenseman Domenic Masellis from the Langley Rivermen for future considerations; he’ll make his debut tonight.
The team might get some good news tonight, as defenseman Dante Fabbro, who’s missed the last five games, is a game time decision; Fabbro has been sidelined with a lower-body injury.
Donohue joins Gabe Bast on the shelf with injury and Mendel is still away at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Anthony Brodeur is tonight’s projected starter and is 11-0 with 1.77 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage.
It’s a crowded crease in Nanaimo, as they have three goalies on their roster after recently signing Evan Johnson from the Western Hockey League. Jonathan Reinhart was tagged with the loss last night after allowing three goals on 17 shots; he was then replaced by 16-year-old Jakob Walter.