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GAME PREVIEW: Vees Head To Trail For Regular Season Opener Against Smoke Eaters

PHOTO: Mike Hockley

The Penticton Vees open their regular season as they make their way to the West Kootenays for the first of a doubleheader against the Trail Smoke Eaters beginning on Friday night at the Trail Memorial Centre.

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2019/20 REGULAR SEASON VS. TRAIL

Friday, September 6th @ Trail Memorial Centre (7:00 PM)

Saturday, September 7th @ Trail Memorial Centre (7:00 PM)

Wednesday, October 23rd @ South Okanagan Events Centre (6:30 PM)

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

Friday, January 10th @ Trail Memorial Centre (7:00 PM)

Saturday, January 11th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (6:00 PM)

Penticton pushed their way to a 6-0 preseason record after back-to-back wins against the reigning National Junior ‘A’ Champion Brooks Bandits over the weekend. The Vees earned a 5-2 victory on Friday night before completing the exhibition season with a 6-3 win on Saturday night at the SOEC. Lukas Sillinger scored twice in the game while Liam Malmquist, Jackson Niedermayer, Vincent Nardone and Jay O’Brien added singles in the win. Derek Krall turned aside 17 of the 20 shots he faced in his 3rd win of the preseason.

The Vees earned four wins in six meetings last season against the Smoke Eaters, including wins in all three games at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Penticton won the first four meetings of the season, with one in overtime and one in a shootout, before Trail earned wins in each of the last two meetings of their season series.

Penticton sees the return of eight players from the 2018/19 season including a trio of acquisitions from inside the BCHL. David Silye, Jack Barnes, Jackson Niedermayer and Lukas Sillinger return up front while Evan McIntyre, Carson Kosobud and Conner Hutchison remain on the back end and Derek Krall returns in between the pipes.

With only four rookies on the roster this season, the Vees have plenty of veteran presence in their lineup and named their leadership group in the preseason with David Silye named team captain. Silye is entering his fourth season in the BCHL with 160 games of experience under his belt and will don the ‘C’ this season. Third-year Vee Jack Barnes and first-year Vee Jay O’Brien were named assistant captains for the 2019/20 season.

8 players will be making their BCHL debuts for the Vees as they hit the ice in Trail against the Smoke Eaters, including 2018 1st round NHL Draft pick Jay O’Brien, who was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers 19th overall. The Hingham, Massachusetts native led the Vees over the preseason with 9 points in just 4 games played over the exhibition campaign and brings a wealth of college hockey experience and time with the United States U-20 team at the World Junior Hockey Championship last season to Penticton.

The Trail Smoke Eaters come into the new season after a 3-1 record through the preseason including back-to-back victories against the West Kelowna Warriors on the weekend. A 2-1 win on home ice against the Warriors on Friday was followed up with a 3-1 triumph at Royal LePage Place on Saturday night. Kent Johnson scored twice in the game, including an empty net goal, while Owen Ozar added a single in the two-goal victory. 17-year-old Logan Turness stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced in his second victory of the exhibition season.

Just like the Vees, the Smoke Eaters look to be a veteran group coming into the season with 10 players returning from the team that went to Game #7 of the Interior Division Semi Final a season ago against the Vernon Vipers. Max Kryski, Owen Ozar, Tyler Ghirardosi and Kent Johnson are back up front while 5 defensemen return from a season ago in the way of Trevor Isaksson, Kyle Budvarson, Diarmad DiMurro, Powell Connor and Kieran O’Hearn. Donovan Buskey is back between the pipes for the Smoke Eaters from last season.

Rookie of the Year runner-up Kent Johnson makes his way back to Trail for the 2019/20 season after making a big splash in his 16-year-old season last year. The University of Michigan commit scored 20 goals while adding 26 assists for 46 points on the season and was the only Smoke Eater to score 20 goals a season ago. The Port Moody, BC native added 7 goals and 12 points in 12 playoff games last season as well and looks to be a big producer in Trail’s lineup for the coming season.

Another rookie from the 2018/19 season that comes into the new year with plenty of promise is forward Owen Ozar, who recently secured his collegiate hockey future with a commitment to the University of Denver. The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan native scored 14 goals and added 12 assists for 26 points a season ago and showed strongly in the postseason, compiling 4 goals and 5 assists for 9 points in his 12 games played.

The Vees and Smoke Eaters open up the first game of their weekend doubleheader and season opener on Friday at the Trail Memorial Centre. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with the game being broadcasted live on EZ Rock AM 800 as well as HockeyTV.com. The pregame show starts at 6:40 PM with the Voice of the Vees, Trevor Miller.

The Vees home opener is slated for Friday, September 27th against the West Kelowna Warriors. Contact Director of Ticketing & Merchandise Laura Carleton for more information on season tickets and watching the Vees live this season.