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GAME PREVIEW: Vees Face-Off Against Centennials In Final Trip To Nicola Valley

PHOTO: Cherie Morgan/Cherie Morgan Photography

The Penticton Vees (21-8-1-0) make their final trip of the regular season to the Nicola Valley tonight as they face-off against the Merritt Centennials (8-16-1-0) at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.

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REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE VS. MERRITT

Friday, September 13th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7-3 Vees) (BOXSCORE)

Sunday, October 27th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (4-1 Vees) (BOXSCORE)

Friday, November 29th @ Nicola Valley Memorial Arena (7:00 PM)

Saturday, November 30th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (6:00 PM)

Friday, January 17th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (7:00 PM)

Friday, January 24th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (7:00 PM)

The Vees come into Friday night’s matchup after battling hard but falling by a 5-3 score to the Prince George Spruce Kings on Wednesday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Danny Weight, Tyler Ho and David Silye tallied in the game for Penticton while Carl Stankowski turned aside 16 of the 20 shots he faced in the crease in his 2nd loss of the season.

Penticton heads to Merritt for the third time this season and are looking for their third win against the Centennials in the season series after earning a 4-1 victory in late October at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Tyler Ho, Liam Malmquist, Evan McIntyre and Danny Weight all found the back of the net in the victory while Yaniv Perets turned aside 37 of the 38 shots he faced for a win in the blue paint.

Vees Leading Scorers:

Jay O’Brien (15-28-43)

Danny Weight (14-19-33)

Lukas Sillinger (11-20-31)

David Silye (10-20-30)

Nico Somerville (4-18-22)

The Vees will have a new face in the lineup as they hit the ice in Merritt tonight as 20-year-old defender Nico Somerville was acquired by the team from the Victoria Grizzlies on Thursday morning. The American International College (AIC) commit has registered 4 goals and 18 assists for 22 points in 30 games played with the Grizzlies while being a veteran of 182 games in the BC Hockey League. The Port Alberni, BC native has garnered a point in each of his last four games coming into Penticton, scoring a goal while adding five assists for six points in that span.

Special teams will always be a helping hand in winning games and, over the course of the first two visits to Merritt, the power play has been especially effective. Penticton’s man advantage has gone 6-for-12, operating at 50% over their first two visits to the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena and going 3-for-5 in their latest win against the Cents, a 4-1 victory back in late October. The Vees come into the game on Friday night with the 7th ranked power play in the BCHL, operating at 19.6%.

Penticton heads back on the road, where they have been the strongest this season, holding a 16-4-0-0 record while away from home. The Vees have compiled victories in 7 of their last 9 road games, including a pair in Merritt, while outscoring teams by an 87-54 margin with a +33-goal differential that ranks tops amongst teams in the league while on the road.

The Merritt Centennials enter Friday night’s contest after suffering a 9-2 defeat om Wednesday night to the Trail Smoke Eaters at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena. Josh Van Unen and Olson Werenka tallied in the game for the Centennials while Tanner Marshall stopped 31 of the 40 shots he faced in his 8th loss of the season.

Centennials Scoring Leaders:

Josh Kagan (17-10-27)

Daniel Tkac (6-14-20)

Payton Matsui (7-10-17)

Thomas Manty (6-7-13)

Talon Zakall (3-9-12)

The Centennials added a piece of offence to their group a couple of weeks ago in the way of forward Christian Buono, who they acquired from the Powell River Kings and has made immediate dividends. The Burnaby, BC native rides a four-game point streak, collecting an assist in each of his four contests with Merritt. With Powell River and Merritt combined, Buono has scored a goal and 17 assists for 18 points in 25 total games.

The offensive attack for the Centennials leading scorer Josh Kagan came to an end on Wednesday night but he remains a lethal weapon in Merritt’s arsenal. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native saw an eight-game point streak come to a close against the Smoke Eaters which saw him score 9 goals and 5 assists for 14 points over that span and holds 13 goals and 20 points in 19 games with the Centennials this season.

The first of a weekend home-and-home with Penticton is the conclusion of a four-game home stand for the Centennials and, despite the lopsided score on Wednesday, Merritt has been playing some good hockey at the NVMA. The Centennials have won two of the three games on the home stand thus far, with wins over Prince George and Wenatchee, with 6 of Merritt’s 8 victories on the season coming on home ice.

The Vees and Centennials play the third of their six-game season series tonight at the Nicola Valley Memorial Arena with puck drop slated for 7:00 PM. The game will be broadcasted live on EZ Rock AM 800 as well as HockeyTV.com beginning with the pre-game show at 6:40 PM with the Voice of the Vees, Trevor Miller.