Twenty-five wins and 46 points separate the Penticton Vees and Quesnel Millionaires in the BCHL standings.
They make up one of the first-round matchups in the BCHL’s playoffs and fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre got a preview on Saturday when the Vees dumped the Millionaires 5-2. The score appears a little lopsided but wasn’t entirely.
After a scoreless first period, Bradley Buckingham found a hole in Vees goalie Joel Rumpel. However, the lead was shortlived as Joey Benik tied the score at 2:24 for his team-leading 30th goal of the season. Past the midway mark of that period, Brendan O’Donnell and Myles McCauley scored on the power play. Curtis Loik added another and James Polk added the third Vees power play tally.
“We were taking it like a playoff-type preview,” said Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson. “I thought we handled the situation pretty well.”
Rumpel earned his 27th win helping the Vees finish second in the Interior Conference with a 38-17-3-2 record.
With their first round beginning on Thursday, instead of Friday because of the Toby Keith concert, Harbinson said the Vees are feeling good heading into the playoffs. Harbinson said the Vees are not concerned with sweeps or upset.
“We’re not going to sit back and wait for that to happen,” said Harbinson, in regards to upsets.
Millionaire players to be cautious about include forward and team leading scorer Spencer Graboski with 15 goals and 36 points in 59 games and defenceman Skyler Smutek, who was second with eight goals and 35 points in 58 games. Defenceman Kyle Beaulieu, named Vees on Vees most popular player at Sundays awards banquet, said it’s going to take hard work to beat the Millionaires.
“We’re going to have to wear them down the first couple of games at home and then we will make a trip up north and hopefully kick their butts in their building,” said Beaulieu.
Johnson said their offence needs improving
“We’re going to have to really try not to rely on our power play and score a bunch of five-on-five goals,” he said. “That is something we have kind of struggled to do in the past 10 games.”
In that stretch the Vees scored 16 of their 34 goals on the power play.
Tickets for the first round were available on Monday and kids remain free of charge when accompanied by an adult, while students can also take advantage of the free tickets for Games 1 and 2 by Peter’s Brothers Paving.