Excitement continues to grow with the puck drop between the Penticton Vees and Chilliwack Chiefs less than six hours away.
Vees play-by-play man Fraser Rodgers tweeted that tickets for tonight’s game at the South Okanagan Events Centre are going quick. Spectator toals are estimated to be nearing 2,900 for what the organization hopes is a 29th straight win. Former Vees defenceman and captain Derik Johnson tweeted, “Sending luck to my old hockey club @PentictonVees as they go for the league record 29 wins in a row. Good luck boys.”
The Vees have a chance to equal a 22-year-old BCHL record set by the New Westminster Royals, who won 29 games in a row.
“It’s pretty exciting,” said Vees captain Logan Johnston, following the morning skate today. “There is good energy.”
Johnston said there is also a bit of nervous energy among the players, which they like.
“Hopefully it’s loud and we hopefully give them something to cheer about,” he said.
Johnston’s linemate Ryan Reilly said the players are excited. While they are treating it like any other game, they know this one has a little more on the line.
“Chilliwack will be a good test,” said Reilly of the Chiefs, who are third in the Interior Conference with 51 points. “It could be a big win. We just have to do the little things.”
The key, Reilly believes, is hard work.
“Hard work and skill is hard to stop,” said Reilly, who has 26 goals and 58 points in 45 games. “We have to get pucks on net and set the pace and try to score first. We have to respond in the first five to 10 minutes.”
Reilly said the Chiefs have a good goalie in Mitch Gillam, but they also work hard and have skill. The Chiefs also forecheck hard and never quit.
Chilliwack won the first meeting between the two 7-1 in Chilliwack. Since then, the Vees have won 5-4, 9-0 and 6-2. Penticton has a 31-point lead on the Chiefs in the standings. The Vees have also scored 111 more goals in one extra game, while Chilliwack has allowed 41 more goals.
Entering today, the Vees have nine players who have 50 or more points. In January, they allowed just 10 goals in 10 games. The Vees have been ranked No. 1 in Canada for four weeks straight.