VIDEO: Vees, Cents set to square off in BCHL second round

Puck drop for the Penticton Vees’ playoff season is officially here.

After 18 days without a game, the Vees host the Merritt Centennials, who swept the West Kelowna Warriors in the opening round of the BCHL playoffs, Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre at 7 p.m.

The Vees won six of seven regular season games against the Centennials. Their lone loss was on Jan. 13, 3-2 in Merritt.

“We’ve had success against a lot of teams. I think it’s just indicative of our play throughout the regular season,” said Vees captain Nicholas Jones, who collected four assists against the Centennials this season. “We have a lot of confidence whoever we are going to play. Merritt’s a great team.”

A three-week break has allowed the Vees to get healthy. Head coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said Taylor Sanheim has been cleared for contact.

“We have executed well in practice and flying on all cylinders,” said Harbinson.

Jones said the break was good for them, but now they are into game week and excited to get going.

Among the players who enjoyed success against the Centennials were Grant Cruikshank, Joseph Leahy and Chris Klack, who all put up six points. Cruikshank’s three goals were second to Ty Amonte’s four.

Tyler Ward leads the Centennials with seven goals and 10 points in the playoffs, while Brett Jewell and Michael Regush each put up six points. Their goalie Jacob Berger earned the four wins behind a .918 save percentage and 2.95 goals against average.

Jones said the Centennials have a skilled team.

“They are going to have a lot of energy. They are going to be maybe a little high on themselves,” said Jones. “They deserve to be feeling good. Having that experience in the playoffs that we don’t have yet, they are going to be coming. They are already going to be in playoff mode.”

Jared Nash, who had two goals and three points against the Centennials, said they expect the visitors to bring pace.

“I think the main thing with them is we got to push the pace,” said Nash. “We know here on Friday they are going to come out pretty hard. We got to be ready to match them.”

The Vees and Centennials have met in the post season in 2012 and 2014. In 2014, the Vees swept the opening-round series. In 2012, the Vees won the Interior Division Final in five games. After getting a taste of playoff hockey last season, Jones loves everything about the playoffs.

“The intensity is there. Our fans are great,” he said. “Going into their building (Nicola Valley Memorial Arena) is going to be a real taste of playoff action. Especially the small rink. How much intensity there will be in the series. You don’t have much time. Every shot is a good shot there. There is a lot more opportunities to be physical. Those are the three things that are playoff hockey in a nutshell. To have it more amplified in a smaller rink makes it a lot more difficult to play.”

Just Posted

Two Kelowna sites rezoned for pot shops

Cannabis retailers closer to reality for Lawrence Avenue, St. Paul Street

Vernon senior feels trapped in long-term care facility

Rose-Marie Lepodvin says she wants assisted living, but feels trapped in long-term care

Kelowna man reflects on break-in, RCMP standoff, at his home

Leroy Kuhn and his wife were out tending to a cousin’s garden while a man broke into their home

Two West Kelowna residents in police custody for drug trafficking

The arrest comes after RCMP executed a search warrant at a Chieftain Road home

VIDEO: Acknowledging skeptics, finance minister vows to build Trans Mountain project

Bill Morneau said he recognizes ‘huge amount of anxiety’ in Calgary over future of oil and gas sector

Girl, 10, poisoned by carbon monoxide at B.C. campsite could soon return home

Lucille Beaurain died and daughter Micaela Walton, 10, was rushed to B.C. Children’s Hospital on May 18

30 years later: B.C. woman uses sidewalk chalk to reclaim site of her sexual assault

Vancouver woman didn’t think her powerful story, written in chalk, would ignite such support

Car fire sparks grass fire in popular Okanagan park

Vehicle catches fire in Cougar Canyon parking lot; two occupants get out safely

Slain friend motivates rookie football player to make it with hometown B.C. Lions

Jaylen Sandhu, stabbed to death in 2014, a source of inspiration for promising RB Jamel Lyles

North Okanagan-Shuswap MP defends dedication to constituents

LETTER: Mel Arnold says he is open and accessible

Okanagan smash-and-grab nets electric bike

Rock thrown through front door of Southward Medical Supplies, bike grabbed from near door

Home care for B.C.’s elderly is too expensive and falls short: watchdog

Report says seniors must pay $8,800 a year for daily visits under provincial home support program

B.C. ‘struggling’ to meet needs of vulnerable youth in contracted care: auditor

Auditor general says youth in contracted residential services may not be getting support they need

Most Read