Blog Preview: Vees Continue Home Stand versus Merritt

Dec 2

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  • The Vees five-game home stand continues tonight, when the Merritt Centennials stroll into town, on another “Wicked Wednesday” (Tickets $5, beer $3.75). The Vees started the home stand with wins over Vernon (4-3 OT) and Trail (8-1) last Wednesday and Saturday respectively, and it wraps up with games against Vernon (Friday) and Alberni Valley (Saturday) this weekend. The Vees are the only remaining team that hasn’t lost at home this season, sporting a 14-0 record and they’re 13-0 at the SOEC this season; one “home” win came at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack.
  • Merritt snapped a six-game losing skid on Saturday, going down to Langley and surprising the Rivermen with a 2-1 road win. That’s not a slight to Merritt but they had lost their previous six going into that game and were coming off an 11-8 loss at home to Surrey three nights earlier. The Cents’ are in the middle of a stretch that seems them play six of seven on the road. After tonight they return home Saturday to face West Kelowna, before heading out on a 3-game Island Division road trip next weekend. Yes, Merritt has struggled this year but they actually have a better road record (5-9-0-0), than home record (4-10-0-2).
  • Like Trail last Saturday, the Vees have had the advantage in the season series leading up to tonight’s game. Penticton is 3-0 against the Cents’ this year and have won the previous two games at the SOEC by a combined score of 11-2. They last met Merritt on Halloween weekend, when the Vees swept the Cents’, winning 5-0 at home before picking up an 8-4 road win on Halloween night. The Vees have also had their way with the Interior Division, owning a 12-1 record and are 7-0 at home against the Interior. The Cents’ meanwhile have struggled with the Interior, posting a 5-13-0-1 record in 19 games. Their biggest Achilles heel has been the Smokies, as they’re 0-4 against Trail this season.
  • Steering the conversation away from the game for a moment, International Scouting Services (ISS) came out with its latest draft rankings for December, and the Vees Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro are still projected as top 15 picks. Jost climbed up four spots this month to 13th, as he leads the BCHL in scoring with 57 points in 28 games. Jost is the second highest non-CHL player ranked in the draft. Fabbro slipped two spots to 15th but is the third-highest ranked defenseman and is the leading scorer among defensemen not just in the BCHL but the entire Canadian Junior Hockey League; he has 37 points in just 22 games. The complete ISS rankings for December can be found here.
  • Speaking of Fabbro, Andrew Schopp over at the scouting service, FutureConsiderations, profiled the Vees blue-liner in a recent article for their website. It’s a good read and you can find that by clicking here. 
  • One more tid-bit comes from the Minnesota Wild, as they announced today they’ve recalled defenseman and former Penticton Vee, Mike Reilly, from their affiliate in Iowa. Reilly is in his first pro season in the AHL and has nine points on the year. Wild beat writer, Michael Russo, has a story on today’s development. Read here.
  • Back to tonight’s game and there’s a piece of good news when it comes to the line-up. Easton Brodzinski will dress tonight and will be reunited with line-mates Tyson Jost and Scott Conway. Brodzinski had missed the last two games with a lingering lower-body injury that he had to get treated for. Not only does his return reunite one of the best lines in the BCHL, but it’s also a big boost for the BCHL’s best power-play. Brodzinski leads the entire league in power-play goals with 12.
  • Brodzinski back means a bit of line shuffling, back to what it was before. Owen Sillinger moves back to the wing and he and Chris Gerrie will be centered by Nicholas Jones. Ben Brar moves back to play alongside Desi Burgart and Taylor Ward, and Luke Voltin’s line of he, Mitch Brooks and Demico Hannoun remains intact. The Vees are still without Dixon Bowen up front but you got to like how things are shaping up with their forwards. Burgart and Ward scored Saturday and played with a lot of confidence and you hope that can continue tonight. I think the Voltin line, all 20-year-olds, is due for a breakout performance; well they did have six points Saturday. Still a lot of depth upfront, despite injuries.
  • Zach Driscoll gets the call between the pipes tonight and picked up his ninth win on the season last Saturday, stopping 27 of 28 shots. He’s 9-1 on the year with a 1.80 goals-against average and owns a .939 save percentage; second to only teammate Anthony Brodeur. Brodeur will likely get the start Friday, as he gets a “maintenance day.”
  • Another small piece of good news was the fact defenseman Gabe Bast skated this morning with the team, as he continues to rehab from a lower-body injury. Bast hasn’t played since September 25th and this morning’s skate was “light” but it’s a least a step, all be it a small one, in the right direction. He and Seamus Donohue are still targeting post-Christmas Break returns.
  • It sounds cliché and seems quite obvious but the Cents’ will want to keep this game at even-strength for long as possible. The Vees own the league’s best power-play and have carved the Cents’ PK in the season series. In three games, the Vees are 9-15 on the man-advantage. They went 5-7 in their last meeting with Merritt and the Cents’ PK ranks last in the league at just over 66 percent; they’re nine percentage points behind the next closest team (PG).
  • Scott Conway and Tyson Jost carry lengthy point streaks into tonight’s game, as Conway has points in 25 straight games, the longest active point streak in the BCHL. Conway had four goals and six points in two games last week, as he was given an Honourable Mention for the BCHL Player of the Week award on Monday. Jost has points in his last 16 games and had 27 points in 10 games in November.
  • The Vees are 170-30-4-11 all-time at the SOEC since the 2008-09 season and have won seven straight regular season games against Merritt at home. The Cents’ haven’t had a whole lot of good fortunate in Penticton, as they’re 5-19-0-2 in 26 regular season games since the SOEC opened. But, as I’ve wrote before, tonight could be labeled as a “trap game.” The Vees can’t look past Merritt and think about the rematch with Vernon. If that happens, they’ll get burned.
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About frodgers

Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations for the Penticton Vees
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