Tonight – Penticton Vees (10-6-1-2) at Vernon Vipers (8-6-4-2)
7 p.m. at Kal Tire Place in Vernon
Presented by the BCIHL
The teams split a home-and-home series in early October. Jack Barnes, Ryan Sandelin and James Miller each scored and Jack LaFontaine only had to make 13 saves to earn the shutout as the Vees beat the Vipers 3-0 at home on Oct. 5. The following night in Vernon, Jack Judson had a pair of assists and Jesse Lansdell scored the game-winner midway through the third period as the Vipers held on for a 2-1 win.
Vernon’s Jagger Williamson is riding an eight-game point streak, with 13 points (5-8-13) over that stretch. Williamson is tied for second in team scoring with 14 points along with Josh Latta. The Vipers leading scorer is defenceman Jack Judson who has 16 points in 20 games, good enough for seventh in the BCHL among blueliners. Vernon goalie Aidan Porter has a record of 5-7-0 with the eighth-best goals-against average at 2.67, a .906 save percentage and one shutout.
Penticton’s David Silye is tied for ninth in league scoring with 26 points in 19 games. Vees forward Eric Linell is also in the top-20 of scoring with 23 points in 21 games. James Miller is tied for third in scoring among BCHL defencemen with 19 points and ranks second in goals with nine. Penticton goalie Jack LaFontaine has a record of 8-5-0 with the third-best goals-against average at 2.13, the seventh-highest save percentage at .914 and two shutouts.
What’s at Stake
The teams are separated by just one point in the tight Interior Division standings. Penticton sits in fourth place with 23 points. They are two back of the third-place Salmon Arm Silverbacks and four back of the division-leading West Kelowna Warriors and Merritt Centennials.
Vernon is tied for fifth place with the Wenatchee Wild. They are two up on the seventh-place Trail Smoke Eaters and five back of the division leaders.
From the broadcast booth
Penticton Vees play-by-play broadcaster Craig Beauchemin on the Vees/Vipers rivalry:
“I think what makes this such a big rivalry is how strong these teams are year in and year out. It seems every season the Vees and Vipers are two of the top contenders for, not only the Fred Page Cup, but also a national championship. With that comes the inevitable battles between these two that never seem to disappoint. Players, new and returning, are taught early how important this rivalry is and it never takes long for that passion to show.”
Beauchemin on the two previous meetings between the teams:
“The first meeting was a very impressive showing from the Vees. They held the Vipers to just 13 shots in a 3-0 win on home ice. The next night, Penticton was down another forward following an injury to Drew Elser in the previous game, heading into the matchup with just 10 forwards. Mason Snell was then ejected for a hit from behind, putting the Vees down to 15 skaters. Despite that, the Vees came close in a 2-1 loss. I know Penticton wasn’t happy with the amount of penalties they took that night, so look for that to be part of their game plan for Wednesday.”
Beauchemin on Vees forward Eric Linell:
“I think Eric would admit that he got off to a bit of a slow start when he first joined the Vees. Coincidentally enough, his first two games came against the Vipers. Since recording just one assist over his first three games, he’s scored six goals and five assists over his last nine. His willingness to go to the net and find loose pucks is what makes him so dangerous. All but one of his goals as a Vee has come from either directly in front of the net or in the slot. He’s added a different dynamic to the Vees attack and has become a key contributor.”
Vernon Vipers play-by-play broadcaster Graham Turnbull on the Vipers/Vees rivalry:
“This is a rivalry that dates back at least a decade. These two teams have faced each other so many times in so many big games, including division finals. In recent memory, three of the last five years saw playoff series between them go to Game 7. These two organizations have tried to set the standard for what it means to be successful in the BCHL. In doing that, the rivalry has naturally developed and grown into what I would call one of, if not the strongest rivalry in the league.”
Turnbull on the previous meetings between the teams this year:
“Give the Vees full marks in the first meeting, they kept the Vipers to just four shots in the first 40 minutes. I can’t speak for them, but I think they’d call that the most complete effort of the year. The next night, the Vipers were able to do something very similar. Both goalies were fantastic, but a third-period goal was the difference. As is usually the case with these two teams, they were very close and this one should be no different.”
Turnbull on the Vipers leading scorer, defenceman Jack Judson:
“This has been a bit of a coming out party for him. We knew he was an extremely talented defenceman, but this year he has taken it to a different level. His point production has been huge for this Vipers team when they’ve had trouble scoring. His offensive abilities have also had a direct impact on the success of the Vipers powerplay which is near the top of the BCHL.”
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.