For the second straight season and third time in four years, the Penticton Vees and West Kelowna Warriors will dance in the BCHL’s playoffs.
Penticton Vees assistant captain Scott Conway expects the series to be played with pace.
“They’re a good rush team,” said Conway.
Following Game 5 against the Vernon Vipers, Conway guaranteed their next series would be just as chippy. He then added that not many teams are going to out skill their team.
“They can out work us if our mindset is not there,” said Conway, who leads all BCHL players with 10 points in five games. “If we bring our mindset everyday, everyday at the rink, everyday at practice and everyday during games, then it’s going to be hard to beat us.”
West Kelowna is making their second trip in three years to the division final. They got by the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in six games in their first round match up. The Vees had the edge in their regular season meetings, winning six of seven. Their only loss was a 2-0 shutout on Dec. 18, the only time they were shutout this season. The Vees won all their games at the South Okanagan Events Centre, where the series starts on March 18 and 19, and outscored them 16-9.
Conway led the Vees in scoring against the Warriors, compiling six goals and 12 points in six games. Conway credited his success to having a lot of net pressure and driving to the net. Conway was followed by captain Tyson Jost, who put up nine goals and 10 points, while defenceman Dante Fabbro collected eight assists. Anthony Brodeur and Zach Driscoll split the duties in goal with Brodeur picking up four wins.
Jonathan Desbiens led the Warriors in scoring against Penticton, bagging five goals and six points in seven games just ahead of Liam Blackburn, who also had six points (3-3-6). Warriors goalie Matt Greenfield started the final three games after being acquired in December, going 1-2. His lone win was the shutout performance.
Warriors coach Rylan Ferster told the Kelowna Cap News his club will have its hands full with the Vees.
“Obviously we’re going from one great team to another, so it doesn’t get any easier,” said Ferster. “We’re well aware of who they are and what they’re capable of. It’s no secret how good they are, their record speaks for itself.”
Last year in the Interior Division semifinal, the Vees won the series in five games.
Vees notes: Former Penticton Vees defenceman Troy Stecher was a finalist for two awards. Stecher, who helped the Vees win the 2012 RBC Cup, was a finalist for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference defenceman of the year and offensive defenceman of the year. The awards, however, were given to St. Cloud State’s Ethan Prow. Stecher was the University of North Dakota’s top-scoring defenceman in conference play, collecting five goals and 11 assists in 23 league games to rank third among NCHC defensemen. The Richmond native also paced all defencemen with 70 shots on goal.