A familiar face will be on the other side of the ice when Tyson Jost and the Penticton Vees take on the Victoria Grizzlies at the Q Centre.
Jost will play against former Okanagan Rockets midget teammate Mark Krabben, a rookie in the BCHL.
“We’re really good buddies. I spent a lot of time at his house when we were with the Okanagan Rockets,” said Jost. “He’s a good guy. Maybe I will get to see him after the game. We’re not going to be friends on the ice, I’ll tell you that.”
The trip starts with their first meeting against the Grizzlies (21-22-4-0) Thursday, then continues in Nanaimo (33-16-1-1) on Friday and concludes Saturday in Alberni Valley (18-24-3-3). Ranked No. 2 in the country, Jost said they have to show up every night as everyone is going to try to beat them.
“We got to come every night with a fierce look in our eyes and be ready to win,” said Jost.
While it will be the first meeting between the teams, Jost said they aren’t going in blind.
“We have a great coaching staff. They show us a lot of game film and our game plan for what we got to do to win,” said Jost. “Right now we’re excited to play every game like a playoff game.”
Vees alternate captain Dante Fabbro said they are looking forward to the trip and that the matchup against Alberni Valley will be hard. The Bulldogs have won four of their last six games and are four points out of the final playoff spot in the Island Division, trailing the Grizzlies. The last time the Vees faced the Bulldogs it ended 4-4.
“I know the guys are going to be ready for that one,” said Fabbro, who has 11 goals and 51 points in 35 games.
Fabbro added it will be good for the team to go on a trip like this. It will build the locker room chemistry even more.
Over the weekend, the Vees smoked the Trail Smoke Eaters 6-1 on home ice. Nicholas Jones had a two-goal night, while Scott Conway had three assists. Owen Sillinger knocked in the winner. On Saturday in Trail, it was a tighter finish, 4-3 in the Vees’ favour. Conway netted a hat-trick and has 49 goals on the season. His third was the winner, while Jones and Colton Poolman collected a pair of assists. Driscoll was in goal for both games, giving him 16 wins.
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said practice this week hasn’t been about being ready for the road trip, but rather the playoffs, which are 33 days away.
“We won our first banner,” said Harbinson, referring to the Interior Division title. “There are six banners to go after. We’re five points away from the second one, being the president’s trophy. The No. 1 goal right now is to get ourselves ready for the playoffs.”
On the injury front, forward Desi Burgart was taking part in practice and defenceman Gabe Bast has been skating on his own. The Vees have been told there is a good chance he will be ready for the playoffs. Bast has missed all but six games due to a lower body injury and it has been a long recovery process.
“Initially I thought it was just going to be a couple weeks,” said Bast, in late January. “After the first month, and then the second month, now that’s when I started to really feel the affects. Just missing it out there. Being with my team every day.”
Once receiving more tests results, Bast’s plan is to begin training to be ready for game action.
“I do miss it, playing with those guys out there. That’s the best part of junior hockey,” said Bast. “Being with your brothers out there. Having fun.”
He reached a point of frustration, though still prepared as if he was going to play. Bast described the experience as “a bit of a culture shock” as it is the first injury the Red Deer native has sustained that kept him out this long. With the team winning, that keeps him happy.
“It’s all that matters. I think they are playing the right way,” said Bast, who is still planning to head to the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks in the fall.
Off the ice, the Vees announced that Demico Hannoun, Luke Voltin and Griffin Mendel accepted National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 scholarships. Mendel will join the Denver University Pioneers in two years. Late last week it was Hannoun and Voltin who are set to remain teammates with the Northern Michigan University Wildcats. Hannoun, who originally had a scholarship with Michigan Tech, said it has been a long, but rewarding process.
“First, I want to thank our coaches for the guidance and help I got during this process; it meant a lot,” said Hannoun in a team statement. “When I was talking to coach Kyle at North Michigan, I realized it was the right fit for me; I liked everything the school has to offer. I’m excited to get down there next year.”
In 29 games, Hannoun has 11 goals and 22 points, while Voltin has 21 points in 43 games with the Vees and Langley Rivermen.
Ice chips: The BCHL has developed a mobile app that is available for download. Schedules, scores, stories and stats are now at the user’s fingertips. A simple search of ‘BCHL’ in both the iOS App Store and the Android App Store will bring up the league’s app, created by NewSport Media.
“With so many people in the hockey world reliant on mobile devices for information, this is a welcome addition to the BCHL,” said BCHL communications director Brent Mutis. “We understand there is a demand for fast, accurate data about our teams and players and we trust the app supplies what fans, scouts and coaches are looking for.”
Updates are planned in future versions of the BCHL app and users may see changes to the display and functionality as early as this week. The app is a first for the BCHL.