- It’s three months to the day since these two divisional rivals last played each other, as you have to go all the way back to opening night, September 11th. The ‘Backs skated to a 4-2 win on that night, as Elijiah Barriga had two goals in the win for Salmon Arm, and former Vee Josh Blanchard added a single and so did Ross Heidt. Easton Brodzinski scored both of Penticton’s goals in one of just their two losses this year. So, after playing just once in 90-days, these two foes will face each other twice in less than 24-hours, with tomorrow’s game scheduled at 6 pm
- Cosmetically, both rosters have gone under a bit of makeover since they met on opening night. Brendan Barry, who took the loss in goal, is now with Vernon. Also the Vees traded away Tyler Niven and Jason Lavallee, and brought in David Eccles, Zach Driscoll, Nicholas Jones, Domenic Masellis, Luke Voltin, and most recently Darius Davidson. Since opening night, Salmon Arm shipped out Aiden Salerno, Brett Stewart, Matty Saharchuk, Brenden Wagner and Zach Dyment. They’ve brought in Chase Zieky, Kodi Schwarz, Mitch Newsome, Mike Winnitoy and Brandon Kegler.
- The Vees are coming into tonight’s game short-handed, as they’ll be missing six regulars from their line-up. Not playing due to injury are Gabe Bast, Dixon Bowen, Seamus Donohue and Demico Hannoun. The Vees are also missing Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro who are with Team Canada West at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Ontario.To help fill the void the Vees have called-up two affiliate players for tonight’s game. 15-year-old Liam Lytton will make his BCHL debut up front and will wear number 97. Lytton plays for Yale Academy in the Canadian Sport Schools Hockey League. It’s a bit of an early Christmas and birthday present for Liam, as he was born on Christmas day, in 1999. 19-year-old defenseman Daniel Stone, from the Osoyoos Coyotes, will also be in the line-up and will wear number 15; Stone has played in four games with the Vees.
- Tonight is also the debut of newly acquired forward Darius Davidson. The 19-year-old came to Penticton via a trade with the Surrey Eagles earlier the week. Davidson led the Eagles in scoring this year with 25 points in 30 games, and led the Eagles last year with 51 points in 58 games; he’ll wear number 28. For more on that trade, click here. Davidson will play on a line with Easton Brodzinski and Scott Conway. Davidson will line-up on the left and Conway will slid to the middle, with Brodzinski in his usual spot on the right-wing.
- No doubt the Vees are hurting and will miss the offense that’s out of the line-up, but adding Davidson does cushion the blow, somewhat. They can’t replace Jost’s 61 points or Fabbro’s offense and poise on the blue-line, but collectively they can try to patch the holes. They’ve lost some skill from their line-up, no question, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t lost their work ethic. Tonight and over these next two weeks, will be about out-competing their opponent. Bring you work boots with you and see where the chips fall.
- One guy that can and has stepped up is Nic Jones. The 19-year-old has 12 points in his five-game point streak and has scored a goal in five straight. His line of him, Chris Gerrie and Owen Sillinger will need to make an impact this weekend. As Assistant Coach Steve Cawley has said before, you can measure the Vees success on how that line is playing. If they’re moving their feet, creating, the Vees are usually in good shape.
- Zach Driscoll gets the start in net for the Vees and is coming off his second shutout of the season last Friday; he stopped all 28-shots he faced in a 3-0 win over Vernon. Driscoll is 11-1 with a 1.75 goals-against and sports a .941 save percentage. Salmon Arm will likely counter with 20-year-old Angus Redmond in net and he is 14-6-2 with a 2.75 goals-against average and sports a .908 save percentage; Redmond didn’t play Wednesday against Vernon.
- Both teams are at the top of the Interior Division standings and you can point to their success within the division as a major reason why. The Vees are 15-1-0-0 against the Interior and the ‘Backs are 13-2-0-1. Combined, they’ve only dropped seven out of a possible 64 points.