It’s a matchup of first versus fifth in the Interior Division with the Penticton Vees (7-1-0) and the Vernon Vipers (2-3-0-2).
Vees captain Troy Stecher said any time they play the Vipers they have to be excited.
“It’s a rivalry that everyone understands and everyone can’t take for granted,” he said following practice.
However, the Vees intend to not make the same mistake twice when it comes to emotions.
“We can’t only be pumped up for that game, we have to be pumped up for Saturday (against the Trail Smoke Eaters),” said Stecher. “This past weekend, Saturday we really excited about the home opener and then Sunday we kind of let go in the third period (4-3 win against Prince George Spruce Kings). We are going to learn by that mistake. Trail is a good team. They were kind of rebuilding last year and this year they have put some numbers on the board. It doesn’t matter who we play, every game means the same.”
The last time the Vees played the Vipers was the second game of the BCHL Showcase. Rookie Michael Rebry was the Vees’ hero, scoring the double overtime winner in a 3-2 game. Stecher said that win will help them mentally.
“We’re going to have that upper edge on them,” he said.
Since the Vipers lost 5-2 against Prince George and 3-0 to Trail, Stecher is expecting some bad blood from the Vipers and a hunger to win in the South Okanagan Events Centre.
“We are going to have to match their intensity because they are going to come flying,” he said.
“It’s huge; it’s a big test for us,” Vipers’ captain Brett Corkey told the Vernon Morning Star of their games against the Vees and West Kelowna Warriors. “Playing the best teams in the division, it’s going to gauge where we’re going to end up at the end of the season. I think we’ll be ready.”
To have a chance against Penticton, the Vipers will need a consistent effort, on special teams in particular. They went 0-for-10 on the man advantage, while allowing five goals on 15 penalty kills.
“We were a little let down by the performance we put on last weekend,” said Corkey.
“We’ve been a little too lighthearted with the way we’ve been playing. We won some games by quite a margin, and we were a little lackluster after that.
“This week it’s a lot more business like. There’s a little bit of frustration there with how things have been going, but all the guys are bearing down.”
In other Vees news, Rebry has accepted a National Collegiate Athletics Association scholarship to Western Michigan University Broncos, joining teammate Sam Mellor. Vees players congratulated their teammate with several messages posted on Twitter.
Rebry, who grew up in Clear Creek, Ont., has five goals and 11 points in eight games. He leads the Vees in scoring and is their leader in game-winning goals with two.
“Mike has had a lot of changes to deal with since moving out west, but has quietly become one of the BCHL’s best two way players,” said Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson in a release. “We are excited to have an opportunity to develop Mike over the next two seasons, for Western Michigan University.”
Rebry will join the Broncos, who play in Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich., in 2014.