Previous Series Recap
The Penticton Vees swept the Coquitlam Express in a series that saw two types of games: blowouts and nail biters. After a 2-1 win in game one, in which the Express fired six shots on Adam Scheel in the final 75 seconds, the Vees blew out the Express by scores of 9-2 and 7-2 in games two and three. A goaltending change for the Express nearly paid off as Clay Stevenson was given the nod in game four, putting on a clinic in a 57-save losing effort as the Vees completed the sweep with a 2-1 win.
The fourth seed Smoke Eaters matched up against the West Kelowna Warriors in the opening round in a series many thought would be tightly contested. Aside from game one, it was all Smokies as they also swept through the first round. Trailing 3-1 after one in the opening game, the Smoke Eaters stormed back before Kale Howarth’s overtime winner. The following night it was Trail jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the third en route to a 7-2 win. With the series shifting to Royal LePage Place, Adam Marcoux posted a 37-save shutout in game three before Tyler Ghirardosi’s hat trick in game four lead them to a 6-3 win.
Season Series Recap
Being division rivals, the Vees matched up against Trail six times over the 2017-18 season posting a 4-1-0-1 record. The only loss came in the first meeting of the season October 28, one of the worst games of the year for the Vees. Despite trailing just 1-0 after one Penticton was outshot 17-3, a sign of things to come. Adam Scheel did his best to keep the Vees in it through 40 minutes with 26 saves through two periods, but the Vees were down 2-0. Jackson Keane cut the Smokies lead to one just 45 seconds into the period, but Trail would score twice 52 seconds apart late in the period to seal the win. Final shots were 38-20 Smoke Eaters. Boxscore
Nearly a month later Penticton got another crack at the Smoke Eaters, and Scheel brought his A game. After Taylor Ward and Owen Sillinger gave the Vees a 2-0 lead through one, Scheel was nearly unbeatable making 32 saves in a 2-1 win at Cominco Arena. Boxscore
The two teams didn’t match up for nearly two months after that game, January 12 Trail made their first visit to the SOEC and the game didn’t disappoint. Trailing 1-0 heading into the third, Dakota Boutin tied the game after Kenny Johnson’s wraparound hit him in the skate and went in. After Trail regained their lead, new Vees defenceman Michael Campoli tied the game with his first goal in four years with 4:38 to play. The game went into overtime, and the Vees outshot Trail 4-1 over the extra 10 minutes, but neither team would score as the game ended 2-2. Boxscore
It was only an eight day break until they met at the SOEC again, and this time the Vees took home the win. On anti-bullying night with over 4,300 fans in attendance, Cassidy Bowes and Massimo Rizzo scored four minutes apart to give the Vees a 2-0 lead after one period. Trail fought back with late goals in the second and third periods, sending the game to overtime. The Vees were given a power play just 25 seconds into overtime, and Jonny Tychonick wired home the game winner on a one timer from the slot to end the game. Boxscore
The season series finished off with a home and home series beginning February 7 in Trail. Keane scored with just seven seconds left in the first before Jared Nash scored less than two minutes into the second. Jack Barnes then scored on the power play to make it 3-0 Vees in the third before Trail finally broke through with a power-play goal of their own. Wyatt Sloboshan would hit the empty net to seal the 4-1 win for Penticton. Nolan Hildebrand was given the start that night and turned in a stellar 26-save performance. Boxscore
Two nights later the season series wrapped up with a 3-0 Vees win on home ice. Sloboshan and Bowes scored three minutes apart to give the Vees a 2-0 lead through one. Jonny Tychonick then iced the game in the third period with a goal in the opening minutes while Scheel finished with 23 saves for his third shutout of the season. Boxscore
Head to Head Comparison
The Vees scored 216 goals during the regular season, averaging 3.74 per game. That average jumped to 5.00 during the opening round of the playoffs thanks to a pair of blowout victories over the Express. Owen Sillinger lead the Vees in scoring during the regular season with 67 points, but it was Taylor Ward providing the most offence in the first round with four goals and three assists in four games. Four players (Ward, Massimo Rizzo, Chris Klack and Wyatt Sloboshan) recorded five points or more, with four more at four points.
Trail finished second in the league in goals for at 218 during the regular season. Only Wenatchee scored more with 241. Despite missing 14 games during the regular season, Kale Howarth finished tied for first in scoring on the Smoke Eaters with 62 points, along with his line mate Ross Armour. The Smoke Eaters had three 20-goal scorers, but three more players finished with 19. Seven skaters recorded 40 or more points during the regular season. Despite playing just four games in the opening round, Trail racked up 23 goals against the West Kelowna Warriors. Howarth lead the way with three goals and five assists, while his line mates each recorded seven points. Levi Glasman added four goals and three assists and Armour had seven assists. With his hat trick in game four, Tyler Ghirardosi lead the team with five goals.
Penticton’s defence core accounted for 35 goals this season, with Nicky Leivermann hitting double digits at 10 goals. Leivermann, missing 15 games this year, was nearly a point-per-game defenceman with 37 points in 43 games. Tychonick lead the defence in scoring with 47 points, doubling his rookie season total. In the first round, Tychonick scored the only goal the Vees defence recorded, the opening goal of the series. Tychonick and Leivermann both had four points in the four games, despite Leivermann missing game four after being stretchered off the ice in game three. His status for game one against Trail is to be determined.
Jeremy Lucchini was the Smokies leading scorer from the backend during the regular season with an even 40 points. Connor Welsh finished second with 34 points, but only 10 of those came with Trail after being acquired in a trade with Alberni. Seth Barton, a potential NHL draft pick this June, rounded out the top three with 33 points. Lucchini ramped it up in the playoffs, recording a goal and five assists in four games. Barton was also over a point per game with five assists in the sweep.
Adam Scheel carried the bulk of the work for the Vees over the regular season with a 29-10-2-3 record. His number were eye-popping for an 18-year-old rookie, a 2.08 goals against average and .927 save percentage. Scheel then started all four games against Coquitlam, lowering his goals against to 1.50 and a save percentage of .929. Scheel went 3-1-0-1 against Trail this season with a .933 save pecentage.
Beginning the season with Brandon Wells as their starter, the Smoke Eaters wanted an upgrade and traded for Adam Marcoux from the Cowichan Valley Capitals. Marcoux brought stability to the Trail crease by posting a 12-8-2-1 record. Marcoux then started all four games against West Kelowna, and settled down after a shaky game one performance. Five goals on 28 shots saw Marcoux get the overtime win, and he would give up just five goals on 88 shots over the next three games to help the Smoke Eaters sweep the Warriors. Marcoux played four games against Penticton in a Smokies uniform, posting an 0-2-1-1 record with a .926 save percentage.
Penticton’s power play finished third in the BCHL during the regular season at 22.0 per cent, and continued that success in the playoffs. In four games against Coquitlam, the Vees scored seven goals on 19 power-play attempts. Chris Klack did most of the damage with five points (two goals three assists) on the man advantage, while Wyatt Sloboshan was second with a goal and three assists. In six games against Trail this year, the Vees power play scored five times on 27 chances, an 18.5 per cent rate.
The Vees penalty was the class of the league all season long, finishing atop the BCHL at 86.1 per cent. On the road it was even better at 89.1 per cent, 1.3 per cent higher than the next closest team, the Vernon Vipers. Penticton averaged three penalties a game in their first round series against Coquitlam, killing off 11 of 12 chances for the Express. The Vees penalty kill struggled against Trail this season however, going 18-for-23, a 78.3 per cent rate.
Trail’s power play wasn’t far behind the Vees during the regular season at 21.1 per cent. Jeremy Lucchini lead the Smokies in power-play scoring with 24 of his 40 points coming on the man advantage. The line of Howarth-Armour-Glasman combined for 17 power-play goals, though Howarth can usually be found playing the point on the power play. The Smoke Eaters feasted on the Warriors penalty kill in the opening round, scoring eight times on just 26 opportunities, a 30.8 rate.
The penalty kill for Trail during the regular season was another story. Finishing 13th in the BCHL at an ugly 79.1 per cent. It saw a bit of an upswing after acquiring Marcoux, killing off penalties at an 82.1 per cent rate from December 9 through the end of January, but an ugly February where they gave up 14 goals on 49 penalties pushed them down to 13th. Game one was a tough one for the Smokies penalty killers, giving up four goals on eight penalties. It settled down a bit over the next three games as they would finish killing off 12 of 18 Warrior power plays.
Game one – Friday, March 16 @ South Okanagan Events Centre 7:00
Game two – Saturday, March 17 @ South Okanagan Events Centre 6:00
Game three – Tuesday, March 20 @ Cominco Arena 7:00
Game four – Wednesday, March 21 @ Cominco Arena 7:00
Game five – Friday, March 23 @ South Okanagan Events Centre 7:00*
Game six – Saturday, March 24 @ Cominco Arena 7:00*
Game seven – Monday, March 26 @ South Okanagan Events Centre 7:00*