The forecast calls for heavy bear fall at the SOEC tonight. It’s the Penticton Vees annual Teddy Bear Toss in support of the Salvation Army, as they host the Coquitlam Express. When the Vees scored their first goal, fans are asked to throw new or gently used stuffed toys onto the ice. The stuffed toys will be collected by the Salvation Army and distributed out into the community to deserving kids.
The Vees come in riding a 22-game win streak and are a perfect 10-0 at the SOEC this season. The Vees picked up their 22nd win on Saturday, taking a see-saw affair 4-3 over the visiting Cowichan Valley Capitals. The Express are coming off a 4-3 win over their own, beating the Victoria Grizzlies in overtime at home last Friday night.
As mentioned, the Vees have enjoyed the comforts of home so far this and the Express have become very familiar with the road. Tonight is Coquitlam’s 17th road game this season, that’s two more than any other BCHL team; the Vees have played 12 for some perspective. The Express have only played four games in their own bar this year, so can the Vees capitalize on a team that might be a bit road weary?
Scott Conway returns to the Vees’ line-up after missing last weekend’s slate of game due to a school visit south of the border. Conway is riding a league-best 20-game point streak, which dates back all the way to September 16th. Speaking of streaks, Tyson Jost has points in his last 11 and defenseman Dante Fabbro has picked up at least a single point in each of his last 15.
The Vees’ top-line has received a lot of pub this season and rightfully so but the Express have a formidable trio as well. Colton Kerfoot, Jackson Cressey and Austin McIlmurray are one, two, three in team scoring and the top-line has accounted for nearly half of the Express’ goals; they’ve combined for 28 of the team’s 62 goals this season. Kerfoot has 29 points, followed by Cressey (25) and McIlmurray (21). No other forward has more than 11.
Penticton will again be without three regulars on the blue-line. Gabe Bast, Seamus Donohue and Domenic Masellis are out. Bast and Donohue remain sidelined with long-term injuries and Masellis is serving the final game of his two-game suspension. Forward Easton Brodzinski will also miss tonight’s game with a lower-body injury.
Anthony Brodeur is tonight’s starter and is 13-0 with a 1.72 goals-against average and owns a .939 save percentage.