(Photos Courtesy of: Jack Murray)
- The Vees and Vernon Vipers meet again, just nine days after the Vees toppled the Vipes 4-3 in OT last week. Down 3-1 in the third, Chris Gerrie and Scott Conway, late, scored to tie it up and force overtime. Conway was the hero in OT, again, scoring three-minutes into four-on-four. Need a refresher? Watch the highlights here.
- The Vees have won the first two games of the season series, both those at the SOEC as well. So far, it’s been close, as the Vees two wins were both by one goal. They downed the Vipers 3-2 in their home opener and most recently last Wednesday 4-3. The rivalry picks up after laying dormant for most of the season. In the first 11 weeks these two teams met just once, and starting tonight, they’ll play three times in the next five weeks; four weeks if you take out the Christmas break. After tonight, the Vees head to Vernon for the first time on December 15th and then the two teams ring in New Year at Kal-Tire place on January 1st.
- Even though the Vees’ well documented win streak ended three weeks ago, they still have one going at home. Going into the weekend, the Vees are the only remaining undefeated team at home this season, posting a 15-0 record; 14 wins coming at the SOEC. If you go back to last season, the Vees have won 19 straight regular season games at home. Oddly enough, the last loss at home came against Vernon, way back on February 11th, the Vipers taking a 2-1 decision. One could argue the Vipers have come the closest to beating the Vees at the SOEC this season.
- Speaking of the Vees’ home record, all-time at the SOEC, in 216 games, they’re now 171-30-4-11. That’s an .826 winning percentage since the building opened in September of 2008. The Vees are 8-2 in their last 10 home games against Vernon and if you go back to last season, the Vees are 8-1 in the regular season against the Vipers.
- Prior to the game the Vees will have a short presentation for their Player of the Month award for November. Now, I won’t play spoiler, as you’ll have to come to the game to find out, or tune-in on the radio / Fasthockey. But, I will point out two candidates for the award. Anthony Brodeur was sensational last month, going 5-0 in five starts and posting a 1.34 goals-against average and sparkling .955 save percentage; he had one shutout too. The other contender is Captain Tyson Jost, who racked up 27 points in just 10 games; eight of those were goals. Jost had six multi-point games in November and pushed his point streak to 16-games at the end of the month.
- Jost carries a 17-game point streak into tonight’s game, a streak which dates back all the way to October 17th; he wears that number too. Odd coincidence. He scored his 24th goal of the season on Wednesday, which is a new career high for him and surpasses last year’s team-best too. Jost isn’t just excelling at the offensive end, as he was on the ice for only one, ONE, even-strength goal-against in the month of November. Griffin Mendel and him both a team-best in the category. So, in 10 games last month, outside of the PK, he was only on the ice for one opposition goal; he takes care of his own end too That nugget courtesy of Steven Cocker in the Vees’ Hockey Operations department.
- Jost has been a thorn in the Vipers side this year, like he has for most teams, but no player has caused more trouble for Vernon than Scott Conway. The 20-year-old has back-to-back two-goal games against Vernon and has scored both game-winners so far. He’s responsible for three key goals if you factor in the game-tying goal he scored last Wednesday. On the Vernon side, Liam Finlay has been at the source of the Vipers offense, not only all season, but against the Vees. He has four assists in two games and his teammate Odeen Tufto has a goal and three points.
- Zach Driscoll will get the start in goal for the Vees, his third straight start but his first against Vernon this year. Driscoll is 10-1 on the year, sporting a 1.91 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage. Anthony Brodeur was nursing a minor ailment this week, as he was given a couple of days off but he might start tomorrow against Alberni Valley. Despite the 5-3 win two nights ago against Merritt, Driscoll was one of the Vees best players. He stopped 13-shots in the first period and 31 of 34 in total. If he wasn’t at his best in that opening frame, the score could have been much different.
- The Vees will ice the same line-up as they did on Wednesday. One line that could be the “x-factor” tonight is the 20-year-old trio of Mitch Brooks, Demico Hannoun and Luke Voltin. The three veterans have so far combined for four goals and 10 points in two games. They’ve brought a noticeable spark to the line-up and the Vees will need that energy again tonight against a hungry Vernon team.
- One forward to keep tabs on will be Nicholas Jones. He has eight points in three games and has scored in three straight; he has also scored the Vees’ first goal in back-to-back games. Once Jost leaves for the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, Jones will move up with the top-line and be a center piece to the Vees offense. It seems like he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder and the Vees hope that continues tonight.
- Another area of focus tonight will be the start. The Vees had a much better start Saturday, outscoring Trail 2-0 and they outscored Merritt 3-0 in the first period Wednesday. Vernon’s first periods have been somewhat of an issue in the last three, as they’ve been outscored 8-1 in the first twenty-minutes, going back to November 27th. The Vees had a slow start against Vernon, as they trailed 1-0 after one and 2-1 after two. Why is the start so important? Well, the Vees are 22-0 when they score first and the Vipers are 7-4-0-2 when they get the game’s first goal. When the Vees take a lead into the first intermission, they’re 13-0-0, whereas the Vipers are 6-2-0-1. The first period might be everything tonight.