Tonight – Coquitlam Express (11-5-1-0) at Penticton Vees (8-5-0-1)
7 p.m. at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton
Presented by the BCIHL
This is the first meeting of the season between the two teams. Last year, the Vees won both regular-season meetings and also swept the Express in the first round of the Fred Page Cup playoffs.
Coquitlam’s Regan Kimens is on a league-high 13 game point streak dating back to Sept. 20, with 17 points over that stretch. Kimens, Joshua Wildauer and Dallas Farrell are all tied for the team lead with 18 points, tying them for 12th in the BCHL. On defence, Jordan Schulting is tied for sixth in scoring among all BCHL blueliners with 12 points. The Express boast two of the top goalies in the league in Clay Stevenson, fourth in the league with a .923 save percentage and fifth with a 2.18 goals-against average, as well as Kolby Matthews, fifth with a .922 save percentage and sixth with a 2.36 goals-against average.
Penticton’s Eric Linell has points in four straight, tallying three goals and three assists. David Silye leads the team with 22 points, tied for sixth-most in the league and Linell’s 18 points on the year tie him for 12th in the BCHL. James Miller is tied for second in scoring by defencemen with 14 points. In goal, Jack LaFontaine has the third-best goals-against average at 2.00 and the eight-best save percentage at .915 with two shutouts.
What’s at Stake
Coquitlam currenlty sits in second place in the Mainland Division and can move to within one point of the division-leading Chilliwack Chiefs with a win. They are also two points up on the third-place Prince George Spruce Kings.
Penticton is looking to put some distance between themselves and the rest of the Interior Division as one point separates second and seventh place, although the Vees have games in hand on everyone. They currently sit in a tie for second and are five points back of the division-leading Merritt Centennials with four games in hand.
From the Broadcast Booth:
Penticton Vees play-by-play broadcaster Craig Beauchemin on Vees leading scorer David Silye:
“David has done an incredible job of generating offence this season. He probably plays the most minutes out of any forward on the team and is a threat to both thread a perfect pass across the ice or fire a puck into the smallest of corners. He’s shown this year he has game-breaking ability and has taken his offence to another level.”
Beauchemin on Vees goalie Jack LaFontaine:
“Jack had a lot of pedigree coming into the league, not only as a third-round NHL pick, but also a guy with two years of NCAA hockey under his belt. His dedication to practice both on and off the ice, and his determination to get better every single day is something that can have a lasting effect on younger players. I believe he has already separated himself from other goaltenders in the BCHL and will only continue to improve as the year goes on.”
Beauchemin on how the Vees can separate themselves from other teams in the tight Interior Division:
“The Vees have done an incredible job of playing a team game while having a depleted roster over the last few weeks. Penticton hasn’t had a full roster for a game since Oct. 5, yet they’ve gone 3-2-1 over that span, with all three of those loses being one-goal games. [Head coach] Fred Harbinson stresses discipline to his club every season and the Vees continue to be one of the best in the league in that regard with just 162 penalty minutes this season. As players start to return from injury, possibly as early as this weekend, I think you’ll see this team grow into an even more formidable club.”
Coquitlam Express play-by-play broadcaster Eddie Gregory on these teams meeting in last year’s playoffs:
“Last year’s playoffs was a 1 vs. 16 matchup and, quite frankly, the Express weren’t in the class of the Vees. This will be a good test for the Express who are looking to keep building on a strong start against a team that sets a high bar for competitiveness.”
Gregory on Express defenceman Jordan Schulting:
“When he is skating, he can help push the offensive attack from the backend. That ability can make him difficult for opponents to handle. Once he helps the team establish a presence in the offensive zone, he can distribute the puck to the multitude of players that can put the puck in the net.”
Gregory on the improvement of this year’s Express team compared to last year:
“[Head coach] Jason Fortier has built the team with players that are difficult to knock off the puck. The guys on this team have taken their game to another level offensively with increased opportunity this year. It really starts with the backend with guys who can skate and move the puck with the ability to make plays and get it to the forwards.”
ABOUT THE BCIHL
The British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League was created with the purpose of offering a venue for competitive, high-calibre hockey that’s close to home for players beyond their junior careers. The league was launched in 2006 and now includes five member teams: Selkirk College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, the University of Victoria and Vancouver Island University. This season, 25 graduates with over 2750 games of BCHL experience are pursuing their academic and athletic goals in the BCIHL. To learn more about the BCIHL and playing opportunities for BCHL grads, visit BCIHL.ca.