The Penticton Vees (12-6-1-2) had their season ended by the Trail Smoke Eaters (8-10-3-2) last year, now the two will meet at the South Okanagan Events Centre for the first time since game seven of last season.
Friday night the Vees shook off a bad opening period, in which they were outshot 12-3, and picked up a 4-2 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The victory gave the Vees back to back wins for the first time since September 29 and October 5.
James Miller opened the scoring on the power play in the second period before Ryan Sandelin added a pair in the third. Eric Linell would hit the empty net to seal the win. Jack LaFontaine finished with 24 saves in net, and his play was the only reason the Vees weren’t down after the first as he made a number of breakaway stops.
The Smoke Eaters have had a tough opening 23 games of the season. While they sit just eight points out of first place, the team has lost nine of their last 10 games following a shootout loss on home ice to the Coquitlam Express Friday night.
Trail is having a tough time keeping the puck out of their net as they have allowed 85 goals on the season, third most in the BCHL ahead of only Cowichan (86) and Surrey (105).
One of the bigger bright spots for the Smoke Eaters this season has been the play for forward Kent Johnson. Just 16-years-old, Johnson has nine goals and 10 assists on the season, giving him a five-point cushion over the next highest scoring 16 year old, Ethan Bowen of Chilliwack.
Seven players remain on Trail’s roster that played in the gruelling seven-game series last season, including goaltender Adam Marcoux. Penticton’s roster also includes seven regulars from that series, though only six will play Saturday as Lukas Sillinger recovers from an injury.