Speed is key.
It’s also the key attribute of the Penticton Vees that captain Brad McClure said they need to use to beat the Langley Rivermen, who they host Friday at the South Okanagan Events Centre at 7 p.m. The Mainland Division leaders possess size with 15 players at six-feet tall or more.
“They’re a good team, they’re a big team. They block a lot of shots,” said McClure, who scored the 3-2 winner against the West Kelowna Warriors Tuesday night. “They are well coached and I think we saw that in Langley. It’s going to be a good tilt here on Friday night.”
McClure said the Vees need to have their forwards attack the Rivermen defence, which has former Vee Zach Urban, who helped them win the RBC Cup in 2011.
“I think just getting pucks behind their D-men. Get the big guys moving,” said McClure, is among the keys to success.
The Rivermen leapfrogged the Prince George Spruce Kings Wednesday night for first-place with a 2-1 win. That improved their road record to 9-4-0-1. Vees coach Fred Harbinson said to have success on the road, you have to have good depth, something he said they have.
“They are one of the better teams in the league,” he said. “Fighting for their division. We know that they are deep up front.”
He said the Rivermen compete hard. The last time the two met was in Langley on Oct. 19 ending 1-1. Harbinson described it as, “ a heck of a game.”
On Saturday, the Vees host the Chilliwack Chiefs at 6 p.m. The Chiefs are last in the Mainland Division with a record of 7-16-1-2 and have four wins in 12 road games.
The Vees are coming off a win in West Kelowna in which they wiped away a 2-0 lead the Warriors built in the first seven minutes. The Vees have won five games when trailing or tied after the first period. Harbinson said the goals were a result of mental mistakes. He was happy to see his players stick together.
“It’s not easy to win on the road and to find ourselves down 2-0, not even seven minutes into the game, it would have been kind of easy for us to fold our tent,” said Harbinson, whose team improved to 7-5-1-1 away from the SOEC. “Instead, our guys kind of buckled down had a massive five-on-three penalty kill that kind of got us going. We kind of took over the game from there.”
It started with defenceman Paul Stoykewych, a healthy scratch in their second game against the Coquitlam Express, scoring a power-play goal late in the first. Ben Dalpe added a second power-play tally assisted by Brad McClure in the second period. It was Dalpe’s first goal in 10 games.
“It was huge,” said McClure of Dalpe’s goal. “It seemed every bounce was off his stick the wrong way. Seeing him get that was good as a teammate. Moving forward it’s going to be good for him.”
After the first period, the Vees gave up just 10 shots. Harbinson said a lot of his player had a solid game.
“I thought it was a huge game for our team,” said McClure. “I thought our penalty killers killed some big penalties for us. (Hunter) Miska kept us in it at some times. I think it was a huge win moving forward.”