Scoring 18 goals to earn four points against the Prince George Spruce Kings and Trail Smoke Eaters is something for Penticton Vees fans to smile about.
Speaking of numbers, Joey Benik has switched to No. 9, which he has tattooed on his arm and Cody DePourcq sports 19. He especially looked good when he joined Steven Fogarty (91) on the rush, feeding the New York Rangers draft pick, who opened the scoring with a shot that beat Smoke Eaters netminder Matt Larose along the ice blocker side.
How about their new jerseys? Very nice. With the colour scheme, the names and numbers look good.
Benik said the jerseys are “sweet.”
“We look really sharp in them,” said Travis St. Denis.
The Vees sealed a nice home opener, which included an impressive light show the night before (as they beat the Spruce Kings 9-2). Against the Smoke Eaters, they were equally impressive offensively as they were defensively. The Smoke Eaters recorded just 17 shots. That might be the easiest win rookie goalie Chad Katunar is going to get. When speaking to Katunar, he never mentioned easy.
“It’s never as easy as it looks,” said Katunar, who felt great getting his first BCHL win. “I was nervous in there.”
While the shots were 13-9 for the Vees after one period, Katunar said it was crucial for him to make those saves for the game to develop into the blowout it was. St. Denis didn’t disappoint with his parents in the stands. Against the Spruce Kings, he racked two goals up three points. Then against his hometown team, St. Denis’ excitement helped him rack up another two goals and four points.
“It felt unreal,” he said. “I think I had a bit of a motivation before the game. Anyone who plays their old team has that. I definitely felt like I had an extra jump or two coming in against Trail.”
He wasn’t the only Vees to light up the opposition, as Connor Reilly collected three points against the Spruce Kings and set up three against Trail, including Mario Lucia’s goal that made it 3-0. Lucia is either going to be incredibly good as this season goes on or the Smoke Eaters are going to have a long season — in a painful way. The Minnesota native scored on a play in which two Smoke Eaters sandwiched him, yet Lucia still managed to get a shot away. Perhaps goalie Matt Larose wasn’t expecting it as it beat him low glove side. St. Denis said he wasn’t surprised by what the Minnesota Wild draft pick did.
“He’s a big boy,” said St. Denis of the six-foot-three, 195-pound forward. “He has a Mario Lemieux-like reach. He’s a really strong guy. You can tell why he got drafted second round. Pretty much just him wanting the puck more than them.”
Next up for the Vees are the Merritt Centennials on Wednesday, at 7 p.m. in the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Centennials recently lost to the Westside Warriors 5-4 in overtime.
Emanuel Sequeira is the sports editor of the Penticton Western News.