PHOTO: Jack Murray
The Penticton Vees (0-0-0-0) kick-off the 2021/22 regular season with a visit from their long-time rival in the Vernon Vipers (0-0-0-0) on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
VEES VS. VIPERS REGULAR SEASON SCHEDULE:
Friday, October 8th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (7:00 PM)
Saturday, November 27th @ Kal Tire Place (6:00 PM)
Friday, December 17th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (7:00 PM)
Wednesday, February 9th @ South Okanagan Events Centre (6:30 PM)
Sunday, February 27th @ Kal Tire Place (5:00 PM)
Penticton and Vernon saw each other a total of five times during the Okanagan Cup in 2020 with the Vees taking each of the five games, including a 4-3 overtime victory over the Vipers to clinch the Okanagan Cup in the exhibition tournament’s final. The Vees and Vipers have not met since November 14th, 2020 while the Vees took the last season series in a regular season between the two sides during the 2019/20 campaign by a 4-1-1-0 margin.
The Vees showed well in their five preseason contests, including a pair of victories over the Vipers that led them to a perfect 5-0-0-0 record in the exhibition campaign. The latest victory for the Vees came in the way of a 5-2 triumph over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks last Saturday at the SOEC. Spencer Smith tallied a pair of goals while Fin Williams, Bradley Nadeau and Casey McDonald added singles in the victory.
Vees Exhibition Leading Scorers:
Fin Williams (3-6-9)
Jackson Nieuwendyk (3-3-6)
Luc Wilson (0-5-5)
Casey McDonald (3-1-4)
Ethan Mann (2-2-4)
The Vees come into the season with eight players returning from an impressive 18-1-0-1 Pod season last year, good enough to claim top spot in the BC Hockey League during that 20-game stretch. Captain Fin Williams is joined by assistant captain Luc Wilson, Stefano Bottini and Beanie Richter up front while assistant captain Frank Djurasevic leads the charge on the backend with Grayson Arnott and Josh Niedermayer anchor the blue line alongside of Kaeden Lane, who is back for his 20-year-old season between the pipes in goal.
Named Captain for the second straight season, veteran 18-year-old Fin Williams has joined some exclusive company in Vees history. Only four players have been captains of the team for back-to-back seasons with Williams being the first since Denver Manderson in the 2007/08 and 2008/09 season. Ian Kidd sported the ‘C’ for back-to-back seasons in 1983-1985 and Darryl Mitchell also was captain from 1987-89. The University of Michigan commit has responded terrifically since receiving the ‘C’ for a second straight year, leading the Vees in points during exhibition play with 3 goals and 6 assists for 9 points.
Penticton Pod scoring champion Luc Wilson also returns for this year’s version of the Vees as Luc tallied five assists in four preseason contests. The University of Minnesota State-Mankato commit scored 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points in just 20 games last season. His roommate and goaltender Kaeden Lane also is back in the crease for the Vees this season. The Pod MVP and Northern Michigan University commit put up sparkling numbers in 16 games last season, going 15-1-0 with a 1.13 goals against average and a .951 save percentage with 5 shutouts.
The Vees will be honouring the 1985/86 Penticton Knights in tonight’s home opener with 10 members of the team that will be on hand for a pre-game ceremony and ceremonial puck drop. Penticton will be throwing it back to honour the 35th anniversary of the Centennial Cup Champion Knights with special retro jerseys.
The Vernon Vipers hope to have gotten some of their frustrations out of the way in the preseason as Vernon finished the exhibition campaign with a 1-3-2-0 record in 6 games but did finish the preseason off on a good note in winning their last game by a 4-1 score over the West Kelowna Warriors last Saturday. Reagan Milburn scored twice in the game for the Vipers while Zack Tonelli and Ryan Shostak added singles in the win.
Vipers Exhibition Leading Scorers:
Reagan Milburn (4-2-6)
Luke Buss (4-0-4)
JoJo Tanaka-Campbell (1-3-4)
Nicholas Kent (0-4-4)
Ryan Shostak (0-4-4)
The Vipers return a total 16 players from last season including Captain JoJo Tanaka-Campbell who is joined by Nicholas Remissong, Ethan Mercer, Jack Glen, Kjell Kjemhus, Reagan Millburn, Logan Lorenz, Cam McDonald, Ryan Shostak, Luke Pakulak and Zack Tonelli up front while Ayden Third, Griffen Barr, Desmond Johnson and Nicholas Kent are back in the fold on the blue line and Roan Clarke makes his way back in between the pipes.
The Vipers introduced their leadership group this week with JoJo Tanaka-Campbell donning the ‘C’ for Vernon in his 20-year-old season. The Yale University commit scored 6 goals and 15 points during the 20-game Pod Season last year and has posted 14 goals and 42 points in 85 games played over the course of his BC Hockey League career. Tanaka-Campbell will be joined by Nicholas Kent, Ryan Shostak and Kjell Kjemhus who will be assistant captains for the Vipers this season.
The Vees and Vipers play in the first of their five game season series beginning tonight at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Puck drop is slated for 7:00 PM with limited tickets available online at valleyfirsttix.com as well as at the SOEC Box Office. The game will also be broadcasted on Bounce Radio as well as BCHLTV.ca beginning with the pre-game show opening at 6:40 PM.