Don’t be surprised to catch the Penticton Vees tapping the heels of their skates together Saturday because for them there truly is no place like home.
The hockey wizards of the South Okanagan Events Centre are undefeated in five games on home ice this year. Daunting to all opposing teams? That’s exactly what the Vees hope for.
“They are coming to our barn. This is our home and it should be a little bit intimidating,” said Vees leading point-scorer Tyson Jost, who recently filmed a TSN feature to air Nov. 4 on SportsCentre. “Our team also has to live up to those expectations.”
Along with line mates Demico Hannoun and Lewis Zerter-Gossage, Jost is delivering on that notion. Thrown together in practice after a tough 5-0 loss to the Merritt Centennials in September, the trio have been inseparable. The only disagreement they have is who is the better ping pong player, Jost claims it’s him. Hannoun is riding a seven-game point streak at the beginning of this week, as is Jost. The pair smoothly brush those stats off.
“I wasn’t really sure, but I knew our line was doing well,” said Jost. “We have lots of chemistry. Zerter has great speed and a wonderful shot and Hannoun is so smart and skilled with his puck handling and passing. It opens up so much ice for us. We all just compliment each other.”
Hannoun also shrugs off any talk of point streaks. It’s all about the end game for him. He releases a sly grin talking about how there is nothing more he would love han too keep that spotless record at home. On Saturday, the Vees face Hannoun’s former team, who just happen to be the Vees arch-rival Vernon Vipers. He knows all too well what it is like entering the SOEC trying to smash the Vees’ bricked up fortress of home wins put together over the years on that ice surface.
“I think teams love to try and beat us at our home rink, but we are always up to the challenge,” he said, breaking out that grin again. “We have a little bit of a target on our back, not too many teams like us in this league.”
The building has been tough for teams to grab points out of since its been built. The Vees hover around a 0.800 winning percentage at home.
“It’s a situation where other teams love to hate us and they come in with extra energy. It is the only way we get better though. We want the best teams with their A-game so at the end of the year we are combat-ready for what lies ahead.”
Game time on Oct. 25 against the Vipers at the SOEC is 6 p.m. The Vees will then travel to Salmon Arm to face the Silverbacks on Oct. 26.
-Results from the Vees’ tilt with the Prince George Spruce Kings on Thursday evening will not be available by press deadline.