The Merritt Centennials can’t tippy toe when visiting the Penticton Vees for a second time, but caution must be taken to how aggressive they are in checking the home side.
The Vees possess the most dangerous power play in the BCHL executing 28.5 per cent of the time. Of the Vees’ 70 goals, which leads the league, 26 have come on the man advantage.
Travis St. Denis, who is tied with Prince George’s Paul De Jersey with 14 goals to lead the league, leads the Vees with six on the power play.
“I think we have a pretty potent unit,” said St. Denis. “We are all pretty skilled so you just try and use that to our advantage, but every time we go out there, we just have to make sure we work hard and get pucks to the net.”
Vees coach Fred Harbinson has liked what he’s seen because different guys have risen to the occasion. Harbinson said the key is they are scoring in different ways.
“Some teams you watch and you know there is a go-to-play that they have,” he said. “There are many different weapons that we have. I think the biggest thing is when we’re physical and aggressive on our power play, it creates a lot of space for our guys.”
Following St. Denis, Mario Lucia and brothers Conner and Mike Reilly have struck four times on the power play.
On Oct. 23, the Vees were able to put the Surrey Eagles away 6-3 as the Eagles began taking penalties. Goals by Mike Reilly and St. Denis sewed up the win. In their 2-1 victory against the Cowichan Valley Capitals, St. Denis opened the scoring on the power play. In their 6-2 win against the rival Vernon Vipers, the Vees went two-for-10. Again, they opened the scoring on a power play tally by Joey Benik.
“When our guys have space, we definitely have the killer instinct to be able to score,” said Harbinson. “It’s been a huge part of our success. Right now we’re on a two goal per-game clip. That’s not going to last all year.”
While Harbinson isn’t wearing rose coloured glasses when it comes to how successful the power play will execute, he knows it gets in the head of the opposition.
“If we can continue to be physical and aggressive on our power play, good things will happen,” he said.
The Centennials are 16-for-66 when it comes to killing power plays for an efficiency rate of 75.8 per cent. The last time both teams met, the Vees went two-for-five on the power play on their way to a 6-1 win. Puck drop at the South Okanagan Events Centre for that matchup on Saturday is 5 p.m.