A pair of weekend wins raised the Penticton Vees season-opening unbeaten streak to eight games, keeping them at the top of the Canadian Junior Hockey League rankings for the second consecutive week.
The Vees outscored the West Kelowna Warriors 10-3 in pair of home-and-home matches, including Friday’s first B.C. Hockey League home game of the season at the South Okanagan Events Centre, Friday.
The rankings of the country’s top 20 teams released Monday morning are a weekly installment and are compiled by an independent scouting source. The Sherwood Park Crusaders and the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League were second and third, respectively, in the rankings.
Yaniv Perets second shutout in a row Friday, lead the team to a 3-0, win over the Warriors and a 7-3 victory the following night in Kelowna, kept the squad’s unblemished record intact.
Over 3,000 happy fans packed the SOEC to witness the victory as Perets stopped all 21 shots. Vincent Nardone opened the scoring in the first period and Jackson Niedermayer and Colton Kalezic finished the job in the middle frame.
In West Kelowna, the Vees had a three-goal third period to put the icing on the cake at Royal LePage Place.
Connor Hutchison scored his second and third markers of the season to lead the Vees with singles going to Jay O’Brien, Vincent Nardone, Alex DiPaolo, Kalezic and David Silye.
Derek Krall stopped all but three Warriors shots.
“I like how we played Friday. Watching the videos, we didn’t give up much but it’s normal to be a little nervous the first game in front of a big crowd at home,” said Vees head coach and GM Fred Harbinson. “Saturday, we lost our way a little bit in the second period but I really liked how we responded in the third.
“There’s still a lot we have to figure out and we just have to find a way to get the wins. There are still some things have to drill into our guys about how to play without the puck, which has been a challenge because we’ve had the puck so much.”
Next up for the Vees is this weekend’s hosting of the BCHL Showcase Festival, featuring eight games and nine different teams. Penticton and the Vernon Vipers rivalry will heat up again with their first meeting of the season Friday at 7 p.m. with other games going Friday and Saturday at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The Vees and Wenatchee Wild play Saturday at 7 p.m. All games are at the SOEC.
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