Vees confident of road trip to Trail

The Penticton Vees are taking their strong road record into Trail against the Smoke Eaters.

PENTICTON VEES FORWARD Grant Cruikshank drives hard to the net in BCHL action against the Chilliwack Chiefs Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Vees won won 3-2 overtime. The Vees travel to Trail on Wednesday to take on the Smoke Eaters.

The last time the Penticton Vees and Trail Smoke Eaters met on Oct. 1, Nicholas Jones hammered home a buzzer beater.

The Vees captain lifted the home team to a 3-2 double overtime win.

“It was a good one. It’s a regular season game, it’s still meaningful,” said Jones, of where that goal ranks for him. “We didn’t play our best that game. We found a way to win.”

What Jones remembers is the Smoke Eaters playing well and they have continued to climb in the BCHL standings, sitting third in the Interior Division at 14-13-1-0. In their last two games, the Smoke Eaters defeated the Chilliwack Chiefs 3-1 and lost to the Merritt Centennials 3-2 at home. Jones said the Cominco Arena is a tough place to play and added the four-hour drive can be hard.

“We just have to play the way we’ve been playing,” said Jones. “We’ve been really good on the road (14-2-0) this year. We want to keep that up.”

With only two losses away from the South Okanagan Events Centre, he said that gives them confidence. Jones also said the group of guys in the room know now to play on the road.

“It’s being able to go into any building being confident,” he said.

In the 3-2 win over Chilliwack (READ MORE: Vees down Chiefs in extra time), the Vees power play went 0-for-6, but generated chances. Currently the Vees power play ranks 14th at 16.3 per cent. Vees assistant captain Owen Sillinger said they “just suck with it.”

“We are trying to get shots,” he said. “We are getting enough on net.”

Jones said their power play has been its best in their last four games going two-for 16.

“We’ve just been getting chances, especially the last game we had a bunch of chances,” said Jones. “We got a ton of shots.”

Of their 16 power play tallies, Grant Cruikshank leads with the team with five, followed by Ty Barnstable and Jones with two each.

“It’s a work in progress, but I think we are still finding a way to win without the PP being great,” said Jones. “Once we get that going I think it will only help.”

With 96 goals on the season, Jones said it is key they are able to score five-on-five, especially come playoffs.

“You’re not going to get as many PPs as you would in the regular season,” he said.

On the penalty kill, the Vees rank seventh at 79.3 per cent. The Smoke Eaters are one spot ahead of them at 29.9 per cent, while their power play is sixth in the league at 25.3 per cent.