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GAME PREVIEW: Vees Open New Rivalry; Face Bucks For First Time

PHOTO: Jack Murray

The Penticton Vees (1-0-0-0) write a new chapter in team history as they face-off against the Cranbrook Bucks (0-0-0-0) in their first-ever meeting on Saturday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

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2021 REGULAR SEASON VS. CRANBROOK

Saturday, April 3rd vs. Cranbrook (6:00 PM)

Friday, April 9th @ Cranbrook (7:00 PM)

Monday, April 12th @ Cranbrook (7:00 PM)

Thursday, April 15th @ Cranbrook (7:00 PM)

Sunday, April 18th vs. Cranbrook (4:00 PM)

Wednesday, April 21st @ Cranbrook (7:00 PM)

Saturday, April 24th vs. Cranbrook (6:00 PM)

Friday, April 30th vs. Cranbrook (7:00 PM)

Monday, May 3rd @ Cranbrook (7:00 PM)

Sunday, May 9th vs. Cranbrook (4:00 PM)

Penticton comes into Saturday night’s matchup against the Bucks after opening their season with a 4-1 triumph over the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday night at the South Okanagan Events Centre. Jacob Quillan scored shorthanded while Stefano Bottini, Frank Djurasevic and Tyler Ho added singles in the opening night win. Kaeden Lane was solid between the pipes for the Vees, making 27 saves on 28 shots in his first career BC Hockey League win.

Vees Leading Scorers:

Frank Djurasevic (1-1-2)

Stefano Bottini (1-0-1)

Tyler Ho (1-0-1)

Jacob Quillan (1-0-1)

Ryan McGuire (0-1-1)

It was an opening night to remember for the Vees with three players tallying their first career BCHL goals in the way of Quilan, Bottini and Djurasevic, the Vees blueliner from New Rochelle, New York, who had a fantastic opening to his BCHL career. The 6’2”, 192-pound defender equaled his Okanagan Cup point tally on Friday night and paced the Vees with a goal and assist from the back end.

Despite some penalty trouble with two major penalties to kill off, the Vees penalty kill was outstanding in Friday night’s victory and helped them to opening the season on a winning note. In fact, the Vees/Smoke Eaters contest was the only game on Friday night to not produce a power play marker with the four other games all seeing power play success. The Vees were the only team on Friday night to score shorthanded, opening the season with Quilan’s shorty being the first season-opening shorthanded goal for the Vees since at least the 2003/04 season, which is as far back as the BCHL website will allow.

Kaeden Lane continued his impressive play from the Okanagan Cup and carried that over into the opening game of the season, turning aside 27 of the 28 shots he faced in his first career BCHL win. The Burnaby, BC native stopped a total of 117 shots of the 123 shots he faced over five games played in the exhibition season with two shutouts in that span as well while posting a perfect 4-0 record before regular season play commenced.

The Cranbrook Bucks open their official 2021 season and start as a franchise in the BCHL with tonight’s matchup against the Vees but did get into 9 exhibition games split between the Smoke Eaters and Merritt Centennials, posting a 3-5-1-0 record in that span with their last game being a 4-2 defeat to the Cents at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook.

Bucks Exhibition Leading Scorers:

Cole Assailly (0-7-7)

Noah Quinn (3-2-5)

Nathan Fox (1-4-5)

Noah Leibl (1-4-5)

Rhys Bentham (0-4-4)

The Bucks have had a bit of a roster changeover since their last game action, coming back in mid-November. A couple of players that could make an impact from who was acquired would be defender Drake Burgin, a 20-year-old from Winnipeg, Manitoba who the Bucks acquired after the Manitoba Junior Hockey League shut down. Burgin posted 53 points in 60 games last season with the Winkler Flyers in the MJHL and registered 75 points from the back end in 114 career games with the Flyers while earning a commitment to St. Lawrence University for next season.

Another player Cranbrook will look to to provide a veteran presence and offensive pop is forward Bryce Krauter, who the Bucks picked up from the MJHL’s Neeapwa Natives. The Winnipeg, Manitoba native got into 9 games this season with the Natives, scoring a goal and adding 5 assists for 6 points and is another player who adds experience on a relatively young Bucks team, playing in 80 career MJHL games.

Goaltender Jay Thomson is someone who the Vees have actually seen this season, playing the 6’1”, 183-pound netminder while he was in the crease for the West Kelowna Warriors in the Okanagan Cup. The Canmore, Alberta native surrendered 6 goals on 40 shots in a in a 6-0 loss to the Vees while having two games of experience this season before being slated to get his first start of the regular campaign.

The Vees and Bucks will clash for the first time in team history and the first of 10 meetings tonight from the South Okanagan Events Centre. Puck drop is slated for 6:00 PM with the game being aired live on EZ Rock AM 800 as well as on pay-per-view at BCHLTV.ca and live on Shaw Spotlight.