The Penticton Vees and Salmon Arm Silverbacks will meet for the second time this season tonight at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The first meeting in Salmon Arm saw the Vees, No. 2 in the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings, pick up a 4-1 win with newcomer Duncan Campbell, scoring twice. Vees goalie Mat Robson turned aside 33 shots.
“They are a pretty hard working team. They forecheck really hard,” said Campbell.
The plan for the Vees (23-5-0) against the Silverbacks (11-17-1-0) is to outwork them. Campbell talked about playing the game they know they can.
“We’re a hardworking team. We’re reliable defensively,” he said. “We have some skill up front.”
Campbell also said the Vees must get pucks up quickly and beat the Silverbacks forecheck and get on the attack.
The Vees are coming off a 5-3 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters at Cominco Arena on Wednesday.
READ MORE: Trail Smoke Eaters stun league-leading Vees
Campbell said what they learned from that defeat is they can’t take any nights off.
“If you take a night off, some teams are going to take advantage of you,” said Campbell, who has five goals and nine points in 10 games with the Vees since joining the team from the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. “We just got to work hard every day.”
The Vees are feeling good heading into tonight’s game (7 p.m. puck drop) and are looking to get back into the win column. Campbell said the team responds well after a loss. The Vees have yet to lose back-to-back games this season.
The Silverbacks last action was on Nov. 26 in Prince George where they lost 6-3 to the Spruce Kings.
Off the ice, the Vees announced this morning that Robson has committed to the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers for the 2017-18 season.
— mat robson (@matrobson1) December 2, 2016
Robson says Minnesota is the perfect fit.
“I felt really comfortable on my visit, as the coaches were great to me and I fell in love with the city; being a Toronto kid, I wanted to go to a big school,” said Robson. “The program speaks for itself and they’re always contending for a national championship and I want to be a catalyst to help them achieve that.”
The goalie has had a stellar season for the Vees as he leads the BCHL in wins (18), goals-against average (1.90) and save percentage (.927). He’s tied for second in shutouts (2). Prior to joining Penticton, Robson spent last season as a redshirt freshman at Clarkson University. Prior to Clarkson, Robson played for his hometown team the Toronto Patriots in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) two years ago. Robson led the Patriots to an OJHL championship in 2015 and was named the OJHL playoff MVP that spring. He compiled a 16-6 record to go along with a 1.77 goals-against average and a sparkling .937 save percentage.
“Their facilities are second to none and playing in front of 10,000 fans every night is going to be exciting,” said Robson. “Walking around the campus you can tell how much hockey means and how big of a deal it is, and I love playing in that type of environment.”
The University of Minnesota is situated in Minneapolis, Minn., and the Golden Gophers are a member of the Big Ten Conference. The Gophers are one of the most decorated programs in NCAA Division l hockey as they’ve won five national championships and have played in the Frozen Four Tournament 21 times and the NCAA Tournament 36 times. Don Lucia is in his 18th season as the head coach of the men’s hockey program. Past Vees’ alumni that have played at Minnesota include Connor, Mike and Ryan Reilly and Jack Ramsey. Connor is in his senior season and is an alternate captain and Ramsey is a sophomore. Mike Reilly is now playing with the Minnesota Wild in the NHL.
Robson is the 16th player on the Vees’ roster to secure an NCAA Division l commitment.