The Penticton Vees (20-1-0-0) head up highway 97 to face the West Kelowna Warriors (12-6-0-2) tonight, searching for their 21st straight win. The Vees win streak hit the twenties on Tuesday, when they thumped the Trail Smoke Eaters 7-1 on the road. The Warriors haven’t played since Sunday afternoon when they beat the Nanaimo Clippers 7-4.
It was a terrific start on Tuesday for the Vees, as they scored three times inside the first seven-minutes of the first period in Trail, and they added four in the third to put the game out of reach. Easton Brodzinski (2), Domenic Masellis, Chris Gerrie, Demico Hannoun, Tyson Jost and Desi Burgart all scored in the win. Zach Driscoll made 26 saves for his seventh win and second in nine days against the Smokies.
West Kelowna won a penalty-filled affair last Sunday against the Clips’ as the two teams combined for 22 power-plays, the Tribe scored four times on 10 chances; only half the game (30:09) was played at five-on-five. West Kelowna led 2-1 after the first, and then scored four in the second to go 5-2 after 40. Sunday was their fifth win in their last six games and seventh in their last 10.
This is the Vees second trip to West-K this season, as they won 4-1 back on September 19th at Royal LePage Place. The Vees are 3-0 against the Tribe this season, picking up two wins at home, 4-3 (OT) on October 9th and 4-2 on October 21st. After tonight, these two play three more times, two of those at the SOEC. Up next is home and home before the Christmas break on December 18th and 19th, then it’s the season series finale on February 12th in Penticton.
The Vees are only one of four teams with a winning record on the road (10-1-0-0) in the BCHL and Salmon Arm is the only other team in the division with a winning road record (7-3-0-0). The Vees have had a lot of success in West Kelowna over the years, winning 27 of 36 games at RLP since the Warriors relocated from Langley in the 2006-07 season. West Kelowna will be tough at home; as they and Cowichan Valley are tied for the most home wins in the league outside of the Vees.
A few Vees are wielding hot sticks, as Scott Conway is tied with one other player for the longest active point streak in the BCHL. The 20-year-old has at least a single point in his last 20 games and was only held off the scoresheet on opening night. Dante Fabbro hasn’t missed a beat since returning from injury, as the rear-guard’s point streak has hit 13-games; he’s the highest scoring defenseman in the league too. Tyson Jost has a nine-game point streak heading into Friday’s game and Easton Brodzinski and Demico Hannoun have points in four straight.
Conway’s 20-game streak is only matched by the Warriors’ Liam Blackburn, who has at least a point in every Warriors’ game this season. Blackburn has 10 goals and 27 points in 20 games and 16 of those points came in the month of October. No coincidence the Warriors had a very respectable 7-2-0-2 record last month. Jonathan Desbiens liked October too, as the 19-year-old had 13 points in 11 games.
The Tribe come in winners of five of their last six and seven of their last 10 games; they’ve won four of their last five at home. The Warriors have only lost back-to-back games once this season and both those games went beyond regulation. However, if they want to continue the positive trend, they’ll have to cut down on their trips to the penalty-box.
West Kelowna has been short-handed 32 times in their last five games, 25 of those short-handed situations coming in just their last three games; they’ve been short-handed seven or more times in four of their last five outings. The run of penalties will need to be nipped in the butt tonight, as they’re facing the league’s best overall and road power-play. The Vees’ power-play is humming along a shade over 30 percent and they’re even better on the road, converting over 35 and a half percent of their opportunities.
There’s a new face in the Warriors’ crease since the Vees last saw the Tribe, as Keelan Williams came over from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks, in exchange for forward Paul Lovsin. Williams started the season with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice before going back to Camrose. The 19-year-old split last season between the Ice and the Okotoks Oilers in the AJHL. The Calgary product has won two of his first three starts with West Kelowna. His partner in the crease is 20-year-old Stephen Heslop, who faced the Vees back on October 21st. Heslop is 4-3 on the year and owns a .898 save-percentage.
Gabe Bast and Seamus Donohue remain out of the Vees’ line-up with long-term injuries. West Kelowna also has a defenseman on the mend, as it’s not known if Kristian Blumenschein will play tonight. He missed over a month with a lower-body injury, before coming back and playing on October 23rd against Vernon. However, Blumenschein hasn’t played since.