The Mackin Express is pulling into the South Okanagan Events Centre Wednesday.
Penticton is hosting Corey Mackin, the BCHL’s leading scorer with 37 goals and 65 points, and the Coquitlam Express in the first of a home-and-home set.
Along with Mackin, the Express’ attack is led by Brett Supinski, second in the BCHL with 26 goals and 54 points and joined by Brendan Lamont, who is enjoying a career year with 14 goals and 41 points. He played 17 games with the Vees last season.
“They have a high potent offence with Mackin and Lamont on their top line,” said Vees coach Fred Harbinson. “They are a team that likes to trade chances. We have to make sure to play better defensively.”
Vees co-captain Cody DePourcq said they are well aware of Mackin’s offensive prowess.
“He’s been lighting it up so far this year, we have to keep our eye on him,” he said.
After walking over the Merritt Centennials 8-1 on New Year’s Eve, the Express, 15-18-1-4, got thumped 6-1 by the Langley Rivermen at home, then exacted some revenge in a 4-3 win in Langley on Jan. 3. The Vees earned their fifth straight win against the Vernon Vipers, a 3-0 final on Friday, then lost to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks at the Shaw Centre by the same score.
“I thought we played well,” said Harbinson. “I thought we played a better first period on Saturday then we did on Friday.”
Trailing 2-0, the Vees beat Angus Redmond, but not the cross bar which they hit twice and a post.
“We had a real good push in the third period. Had a lot of chances around the net,” said Harbinson. “For whatever reason, couldn’t find the back of the net. We didn’t get much puck luck that’s for sure.”
“We had a lot of chances that we didn’t bury. I think that was the big key,” said DePourcq, added that the Silverbacks capitalized on mistakes.
On Friday, it was announced that defenceman Gabe Bast committed to the University of North Dakota. The Red Deer product will at UND in the 2016-17 season. Bast said getting the commitment is “unbelievable.” After visiting the campus two years ago while playing in a midget AAA tournament, Bast was hooked.
“I fell in love right then and there,” he said.
Bast and UND stayed in touch with talks getting serious this year. Bast said he believes it’s his complete game and work ethic that they like. He also reminds them of former Vees captain Troy Stecher. The school is currently ranked No.1 by www.USSCHO.com.
“Gabe has been a steady presence on our backend, a two-way defenceman that can play in all situations,” said Harbinson in a team statement. “This is a great opportunity for Gabe to play for one of the premier NCAA programs. ”
Bast, who played for Canada West in the 2014 World Junior A Challenge, leads Vees defencemen in scoring and is seventh on the team with 24 points in 32 games.
Vees notes: Former goalie Joel Rumpel, of the Wisconsin Badgers, was named the Big Ten third star. Michael Garteig, who helped the Vees win the 2012 RBC Cup, was named the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference goalie of the month for December for the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Garteig was 3-1-0 in four games for the Bobcats, including posting two shutouts. The junior goalie’s three wins led all ECAC Hockey goalies. He stopped 90 of 95 in the four games for a .947 save percentage, while his five goals allowed over 240 minutes produced a 1.47 goals-against average. He was named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Week and Goalie of the Week on Dec. 30.