Vees itching to play Smoke Eaters

A 5-2 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters is still fresh in the minds of the Penticton Vees.

PENTICTON VEES goalie Chad Katunar makes a big pad save at Cominco Arena during a 5-2 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters. Katunar allowed four goals on 17 shots. He and the Vees aim to redeem themselves against the Smoke Eaters at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Wednesday.

PENTICTON VEES goalie Chad Katunar makes a big pad save at Cominco Arena during a 5-2 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters. Katunar allowed four goals on 17 shots. He and the Vees aim to redeem themselves against the Smoke Eaters at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Wednesday.

A 5-2 loss to the Trail Smoke Eaters is still fresh in the minds of the Penticton Vees.

Three goals in the opening nine minutes was all the Smoke Eaters needed to secure a win at the Cominco Arena last Saturday.

“It was a tough game for us,” said Vees assistant coach Michael Hengen, adding it was frustrating to spend time preparing and show up the way they did. “We didn’t put our best effort forward. The best part about junior hockey is we get to see them again here on Wednesday.”

The rematch is at 7 p.m. in the South Okanagan Events Centre. The main adjustment the Vees plan on making is assuring their work ethic is where it needs to be.

“Trail played great,” said Hengen. “If you look at (Brent) Baltus (16 goals on the season) and (Garrett) McMullen (10 goals), they are scoring a ton right now. They had a few opportunities on the power play that we shouldn’t have given them. They are working hard, especially in that rink. There is no secret that is a hard rink to win in. I thought their top guys played like top guys.”

Defenceman Sean Flanagan, who played his third game for the Vees since being acquired a week ago from the Salmon Arm SilverBacks, said it was a tough game. The former Kindersley Klipper said once they were down, they couldn’t get any bounces.

“Just (not responsible) in the defensive zone,” said Flanagan. “We didn’t box out in front of the net. That led to two goals.”

He’s glad to get a second crack at the Smoke Eaters quickly.

“We will be hungry,” said Flanagan. “I’m sure they will too. If we out-work them our skill will play in with that. We should be able to beat them.”

Two of the quick goals Trail scored were assisted by Penticton minor hockey product Tyler Berkholtz. His first assist was on Ryan Edwards’ first BCHL goal.

“I think we have good chemistry right now, the last couple games we’ve been getting some goals and it’s working good,” Edwards told the Trail Daily Times of his line with Berkholtz and Connor Collett. “Everyone is so excited about the two big wins on the weekend, and playing with a lot of confidence right now. Coming back against Prince George and beating Pen, one of the top teams in the league, everyone is really excited.”

Hengen is also expecting to see goaltender Adam Todd back between the pipes for the Smoke Eaters.

“Their goalie played a heck of a game,” said Hengen of Todd’s 36-save performance. Todd received the nod ahead of Lyndon Stanwood, whom he relieved in the 8-7 double-overtime win against Prince George. Todd is 4-1-0 on the season with a 4.39 goals against average and .878 save percentage.

Ice chips: NHL Central Scouting Service released its preliminary rankings for junior hockey. Vernon Vipers left winger Adam Tambellini is the highest rated as a B skater. An A rating indicates a first round candidate, while B is a second/third round selection. A C rating goes to fourth to sixth round candidates. The BCHL has 11 in the C group. The Vees have two in Dexter Dancs and Wade Murphy. In the C group, Vees goalie Chad Katunar is joined by Salmon Arm SilverBacks goalie Adam Clark … The Vees have dropped from 12 to 15 in the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings. The Chilliwack Chiefs are the top BCHL team sitting at nine.



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