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Preview: Vees face hosts Cobourg in search of first win at RBC Cup

The Penticton Vees (0-0-1) battle the host Cobourg Cougars (1-0-0) (7:30 pm ET / 4:30 pm PT) in Day 3 at the 2017 RBC Cup in Cobourg, Ontario.

Both teams experienced overtime in their tournament openers, the Vees losing 2-1 to Brooks yesterday, whereas the Cougars won 3-2 over rival Trenton on Saturday night.

Sunday, the Vees led 1-0 going into the third period against Brooks, courtesy of an own goal by Parker Foo that was credited to Riley Risling. The Bandits tied it early in the third on a power-play marker by Foo, before Ty Mappin won it three-minutes into OT for Brooks.

Tonight the Vees will need to make a conscious effort to generate more shots and in turn offence. They only had 13 shots through 40-minutes yesterday afternoon, including just five in the second period; they were held to just 21-shots total. Penticton needs to make life difficult for the Cougars in their own end and for their goaltender Stefano Durante.

The Cougars looked pretty sharp Saturday considering they had a five-week layoff between their Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) playoff exit and the start of the RBC Cup. The Cougars beat their division rivals Trenton 3-2 Saturday night, which was their first game since April 6th. A measure of revenge for the Cougs’ who were swept by Trenton in the OJHL’s North East Conference Final.

The host teams have done fairly well at the RBC Cup, as four of the last seven RBC Cup Championship games have featured a host team. The last host team to win was the Portage Terriers in 2015 but they won their way through to the national championship tournament. The last host team to win the RBC Cup after being eliminated in their league playoffs was the 2006 Weyburn Red Wings.

Cougars defenceman Jesse Baird told the local paper, the Northumberland Today, that they’re not worried about anyone but themselves, “Obviously we’re the underdog coming into this tournament. Nobody really expects us to do very well so I think we just go ahead with that mentality and just play our game and worry about ourselves more than the other teams.”

The Cougars finished second behind the Trenton Golden Hawks in the regular season in the North East Conference, posting a 39-11-0-4 in 58 games; five points back of Trenton. Cobourg was very good at home too, posting a 20-5-0-2 record at the Cobourg Community Centre; only three other teams in the entire OJHL had more wins on home ice.

The Vees have tweaked their line-up ahead of tonight’s clash with the Cougars, as Taylor Sanheim and Jonny Tychonick draw back into the line-up. Sanheim swaps 20-year-old spots with Ryley Risling, as Sanheim missed Sunday’s game due to an illness. Jamie Armstrong unfortunately sustained a lower-body injury yesterday and is likely out for the remainder of the tournament. The Vees will dress 11 forwards and seven defencemen.

Mat Robson is back in goal and he was terrific yesterday afternoon, stopping 31 of 33 shots and was named the Vees’ Player of the Game.

Key players to watch on Cobourg are goaltender Stefano Durante, defenceman Brennan Roy and forward Ryan Casselman. Roy was named the OJHL’s Top Defensemen this season after finishing tied for first in points amongst defensemen with  57. Durante was named the OJHL’s Top Goaltender, as he finished first in both goals-against average (1.92) and shutouts (5) and was second in save percentage (.930). Casselman won the league’s Most Improved Player award, as he led the Cougars in scoring and finished fifth in the overall scoring race with 73 points.

There is a bit of a BC flavour to the Cougars’ roster, as forwards Quinn Syrydiuk and Jamie Huber both played in the BCHL. Syrydiuk played parts of two seasons with the Alberta Valley Bulldogs, before being traded back out to Ontario earlier this season. Huber started the season with the Prince George Spruce Kings, though he return back home to play Junior B with Listowel, but now is an affiliate of the Cougars and did dress in Saturday’s win.

Tonight’s game and every Vees’ game at the RBC Cup , can be heard on EZ Rock AM 800 and online HERE. Fans in Penticton can also watch the game at Tugs Tap House on Martin Street and at the Barking Parrot Bar at the Lakeside Hotel. The webcast is available, for FREE, on www.HockeyTV.com.

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