Contributed by Jesse Adamson for BCHL communications
Tonight – Penticton Vees (10-5-1-2) @ Vernon Vipers (15-4-0-4)
6 p.m. at Kal Tire Place in Vernon.
The Penticton Vees lead the season series 1-0-0-2. In the first meeting in October, the Vees won 3-2 at home after forward Jackson Keane scored a third-period power-play goal to win the game. Penticton goalie Adam Scheel stopped 31 of 33 shots and was named first star of the game.
The following night, the two teams played to a 2-2 draw in Vernon. The Vipers peppered Scheel with 40 shots in the game and Vernon forward Keyvan Mokhtari broke through in the third to tie it at two.
Last night, the teams played to another hard-fought 2-2 tie in Penticton. Vernon goalie Ty Taylor saved 34 of 36 shots while his counterpart Scheel stopped 31 of 33. Vernon forward Jordan Sandhu tied the game in the third period with his eighth goal of the season.
Coming into tonight’s game, Vipers forward Brett Stapley is riding an 11-game point streak (8-11-19). Teammates Jordan Sandhu (6-7-13) and Jesse Landsell (1-10-11) are both on eight-game streaks. Stapley leads the BCHL in scoring with 33 points in 23 games, followed closely by teammate Jimmy Lambert who is tied for fifth with 30 points in 21 games. Vernon’s goalies are second and fourth in goals against average in the BCHL with Anthony Yamnitsky posting a 1.98 GAA and Ty Taylor posting an average of 2.29. Yamnitsky is also third in save percentage at .930.
Penticton forward Owen Sillinger leads the team with 16 points (6-10) in 18 games this year. He’s followed closely by rookie Nicky Leivermann who has 15 points (2-13) in 17 games, which ties him for sixth in league scoring among defencemen. Vees goalie Adam Scheel is fifth in the BCHL in goals against average (2.32) and tied for fourth in save percentage (.925).
What’s at Stake
Both teams are coming off a hard-fought tie game last night in Penticton. Vernon is trying to put some distance between them and the Trail Smoke Eaters as the Vipers are one point ahead of them for the Interior Division lead as well as the league lead.
Penticton is looking to separate from the pack of teams in the middle of the Interior Division standings. The Vees are currently in fourth in the division, but are only three points behind the West Kelowna Warriors, two behind the Wenatchee Wild and one ahead of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the crowded division.
Vernon Vipers coach Mark Ferner on last night’s 2-2 tie in Penticton:
“I thought our kids competed, knowing the circumstances being down four or five regular players. Going into that building, obviously it’s a great rivalry, being down 2-1 going into the third and finding a way to not only tie it up but have opportunities to win it as well. We’ve always talked about the process and I thought the process was pretty good. Obviously we didn’t get the two points we wanted but going in there and getting a point is pretty good.”
Ferner on the challenges of facing the Vees:
“They’re a talented group. They want to do a lot of stuff off the rush. You just have to be aware of them. They’re a hard-working team. I don’t think there’s any secrets with Penticton, they play a certain style and you’ve just got to match it. In that building it becomes a little tougher, their coaching staff loves their matchups so you’ve got to be aware of that.”
Ferner on playing a team back-to-back:
“(The approach doesn’t change) unless they’ve done something differently, unless they’ve made an adjustment… It’s more about the combinations. I think both teams generated some offence, I think both teams made mistakes. I think it’s a healthy thing when you play back-to-back, home-and-home with two teams that have a history, which our fans appreciate and I’m sure there’s do as well.”
Penticton Vees coach Fred Harbinson on last night’s 2-2 tie against Vernon:
“I thought we played well. Both teams had good chances early… unfortunately we got in some penalty trouble in the third period and right after we had killed a penalty off they tied it up. I thought our third period was our strongest, we really had a lot of great chances to win the game late and then a wide-open net in overtime to win it and it didn’t happen. It was definitely a step in the right direction for us. We’ve had some tough luck lately but I thought our guys played really hard.”
Harbinson on the rivalry between the Vees and the Vipers:
“There’s two storied organizations that go way back, that have won a lot of championships on both sides. The proximity is obviously close. They’re a good team that always plays hard. They’re usually a physical team, this year they’re a lot more skilled than they’ve been the last few years as far as being able to make plays. They’re a deep hockey team, so it’s no different this year.”
Harbinson on playing the Vipers back-to-back:
“We’ve got to play the same way (as last night). Both teams have a bunch of guys out of the lineup right now so the benches are a little shorter than usual…It’s a big game. We only play each other two more times unless we see each other in the playoffs. We’ve had success over the last few years in Vernon, it’s a place that we know we can go into, even though it’s a hard place to win in, but we know we can do it.”