Penticton, BC: The Penticton Vees (35-11-2-3) are still in first place in the BCHL after their loss to the Vernon Vipers Saturday with their two games in hand. One of those games goes Wednesday as the Vees host the Coquitlam Express (14-35-1-3) at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Saturday Vernon carried a 1-0 lead into the second period before adding an early goal in the middle frame. Halfway through Cassidy Bowes cut the lead in half, firing a centring feed from Massimo Rizzo through the five hole of Ty Taylor after a Vernon turnover.
Shortly after the goal Rizzo was hammered in neutral ice by Shane Kelly, resulting in Marcus Mitchell dropping the gloves with Kelly. On the ensuing Vipers power play Vernon scored just 14 seconds in.
Less than a minute later Vees captain Owen Sillinger scored a power-play goal of his own to reduce the Vipers lead to 3-2, but Vernon added another late goal in the period to lead 4-2 heading into the intermission.
The Vipers would take a 5-2 lead off a Vees turnover in the defensive zone and only allow five shots by Penticton over the final 20 minutes to take the game, pulling even with the Vees with 75 points in the standings.
Whichever team finishes atop the Interior Division will likely play the Express in the opening round of the playoffs due to the new playoff format. Coquitlam made a coaching change November 27, bringing Jason Fortier in as their new head coach.
While the Express’ record of 11-14-0-2 since the change may not jump off the page at first glance, dating back to the beginning of the 2016-17 season the teams record was 14-65-2-3 until the change in personnel.
Coquitlam all but has a playoff spot locked up as they have a seven-point lead on the Cowichan Valley Capitals with five games remaining. The team has been struggling as of late however dropping their last five games while being outscored 26-10.
Last season the two teams met twice in a nine-day span, a 5-2 Vees win at the SOEC before a 7-2 drubbing in Coquitlam.
Wednesday’s game is the final Boston Pizza Wicked Wednesday of the year featuring $5 admission, but is also the first annual Winning Wicked Wednesday. Raffle tickets will be sold inside the arena for $2 for three prizes: a day at the Penticton Speedway including driving a race car around the track, six suite tickets to the Slayer concert at the SOEC May 17 and an all inclusive trip for two to Mexico courtesy of Underwriters Insurance. There are only 5,000 tickets printed.
Owen Sillinger – 27 G 26 A 49 GP
Jonny Tychonick – 9 G 32 A 43 GP
Taylor Ward – 16 G 19 A 39 GP
Eric Linell – 28 G 17 A 53 GP
Josh Wildauer – 9 G 22 A 51 GP
Sam Kozlowski – 8 G 20 A 51 GP
Power play – 21.4% (3rd in BCHL)
Penalty kill – 86.8% (1st in BCHL)
Power play – 14.8% (15th in BCHL)
Penalty kill – 81.9% (8th in BCHL)
February 14, 2018 – Vees vs Express
February 16, 2018 – Vees @ Express