Tonight – Penticton Vees (20-8-1-2) at Wenatchee Wild (19-10-2-0)
7 p.m. at Toyota Town Center in Wenatchee
Presented by the BCIHL
The only other previous meeting this season took place on Nov. 28 when Wenatchee got goals from Matt Gosiewski, AJ Hodges, Christophe Fillion and Chad Sasaki and Austin Park turned away 22 of 24 shots as the Wild skated to a 4-2 win at home. Wenatchee forward Matt Dorsey added a pair of assists and was named first star of the game, while Cassidy Bowes and Eric Linell scored for Penticton in the loss.
Wenatchee’s Matt Dorsey is on a 12-game point streak, tied for the second longest in the BCHL this season. He has six goals and nine assists for 15 points over that stretch. Team captain Lucas Sowder leads the Wild in scoring with 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists) in 30 games. Matt Gosiewski, Josh Arnold and Murphy Stratton are all tied for second on the team with 29 points. Brandon Koch is tied for fifth in the BCHL in points by defencemen with 24 points (4 goals, 20 assists) in 31 games. Wild goalie Austin Park has a record of 11-7-0 with one shutout.
Penticton defenceman James Miller has points in eight straight games, tallying 15 points over that span. Miller leads the Vees in scoring with 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists), leads all BCHL defenceman and ranks sixth in overall league scoring. Vees forward Andre Ghantous also comes into tonight riding an eight-game point streak with 10 points over that stretch. David Silye is Penticton’s second-leading scorer with 40 points (13 goals, 27 assists) which ties him for seventh in the league. Eric Linell is in the top-10 in league scoring as well with 38 points (19 goals, 19 assists). Penticton goalie Jack LaFontaine has the second-highest save percentage in the BCHL at .916 and the second-best goals-against average at 2.22. He owns a record of 15-6-0 with two shutouts. Silye will not be in the lineup for the next few games, along with Massimo Rizzo and Mason Snell as they are playing for Team Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, Alta.
What’s at Stake
Tonight’s game is the first of a home-and-home between the two teams as they will meet again in Penticton tomorrow night. The Vees are in first place in the Interior Division with 43 points, three up on the Wild and the Merritt Centennials who are tied for second with 40 points. The West Kelowna Warriors are only three points back of second place with 37 points.
From the Broadcast Booth
Penticton Vees play-by-play broadcaster Craig Beauchemin on the Vees having to play without three key players who are away at the World Junior A Challenge:
“Unfortunately, the Vees have gotten used to playing with a short lineup this season. It seems to be a carryover from last year when the Vees were miles ahead of every other team when it came to man-games lost due to injury. Despite short benches almost every game, the Vees have found a way to climb to the top of the Interior Division. The next few weeks will just be business as usual for them.”
Beauchemin on this weekend’s home-and-home with the Wild:
“It’s a huge test for Penticton. As I said, they’ve played with a short bench basically all year, but combine that with playing a very fast team like Wenatchee – it will be a challenge. The Vees had a tough game in Wenatchee last week with the number of turnovers they had in the defensive zone and will need to rectify that to stay on top of the division.”
Beauchemin on the Vees strong defensive play this year, having given up the second-fewest goals in the league:
“Strong play in the defensive zone and, of course, goaltending have been calling cards for the Vees in recent years. They allow the third-fewest shots per game in the BCHL at 26.9 per contest on top of stellar goaltending from both Jack LaFontaine and Derek Krall. Each player on the team is committed to taking away scoring chances for the opponent while in the defensive end. They’ll need to take that to a new level this weekend against the high-flying Wild.”
Wenatchee Wild play-by-play broadcaster Arch Ecker on the Wild’s recent hot streak, winning 10 of their last 11 games:
“In the BCHL, and certainly in the Interior Division, the margin for error is very small because every team has enough skill to hurt you if you lose focus on the little things. I think the Wild have had success because players have been dialed into focusing on the details.”
Ecker on how the Wild have scored the second-most goals in the league:
“They have been fortunate to get balanced scoring across their lines and also from the back end. Everyone contributes and it’s worked out that the goals come from all parts of the roster.”
Ecker on what to expect from the Vees tonight:
“They are consistently a skilled, well-coached team that plays a fast style which makes for very entertaining hockey when these teams collide.”
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.