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Preview: Vees host Trail looking to widen division standings

Penticton, BC: The Penticton Vees (25-9-2-2) won their third straight game Wednesday with a come from behind 4-3 win over the Merritt Centennials. Tonight the Trail Smoker Eaters (25-13-3-0) are in Penticton for the first time this year, with the Vees just one point ahead of them in the Interior Division.

Despite outshooting the Centennials heavily through the first 36 minutes of Wednesday’s game, the Vees found themselves trailing 3-1. Marcus Mitchell and Taylor Ward then scored 68 seconds apart to tie the game after 40 minutes.

Owen Sillinger scored the eventual game-winning goal early in the third, his 20th of the year, as the Vees held on to improve to 4-0 against Merritt this season.

After losing eight of nine games heading into the Christmas break, the Smoke Eaters have turned things around with five wins in their last six games.

The team was on a three-game road trip to the Lower Mainland last weekend, winning in Coquitlam and Langley before dropping a 5-4 overtime decision to the Surrey Eagles.

Kale Howarth, who wasn’t with the team for seven games leading into the break, has returned to Trail and played an impactful role in their recent success. In six games since returning to the team, Howarth has scored five times and added three assists.

Adam Marcoux was acquired by Trail from the Cowichan Valley Capitals to stabilize their goaltending, and he has responded with a 5-2-1 record since joining the team.

The Vees have played Trail twice so far this season losing 4-1 October 28 before a 2-1 win November 22. In the win, Adam Scheel turned in a stellar performance with 32 saves while Sillinger and Ward provided the offence.

Penticton heads into Friday’s game in second place in the Interior Division, just one point up on the Smoke Eaters and Wenatchee Wild. The Vees have three games in hand on Trail and two on Wenatchee.

Four of the Vees next 12 games are against the Smoke Eaters to finish off the season series.

Team Statistics

Leading scorers

Penticton Vees

Owen Sillinger – 20 G 18 A 36 GP

Nicky Leivermann – 7 G 22 A 36 GP

Taylor Ward – 12 G 16 A 31 GP

Trail Smoke Eaters

Kale Howarth – 20 G 28 A 32 GP

Ross Armour – 17 G 31 A 35 GP

Levi Glasman – 18 G 25 A 36 GP

Special Teams

Penticton Vees

Power play – 20.5% (6th in BCHL)

Penalty kill – 87.7% (1st in BCHL)

Trail Smoke Eaters

Power play – 20.6% (5th in BCHL)

Penalty kill – 79.6% (14th in BCHL)

Season Series

October 28, 2017 – Vees 1 @ Smoke Eaters 4 Boxscore

November 22, 2017 – Vees 2 @ Smoke Eaters 1  Boxscore

January 12, 2018 – Vees vs Smoke Eaters

January 20, 2018 – Vees vs Smoke Eaters

February 7, 2018 – Vees @ Smoke Eaters

February 9, 2018 – Vees vs Smoke Eaters