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Vees eyeing back-to-back titles
The Penticton Quiznos midget Tier 2 Vees have experience backing them as they try to defend their provincial championship.
The Vees should also have a home crowd behind them as they host this years championship, which begins Sunday at Memorial Arena.
The group will be led by returnees Dennis Zoeller, Jesse Keylock, Spencer Hook, Franky Anderson, Liam Hutcheson and Brandon Locket.
“They are obviously key,” said Vees coach Lance Vaillancourt. “They have been there before. Spencer and Liam, this will be their third provincials. The six of them and those two, they understand exactly what it takes.”
The Vees open the provincial tournament on March 16 against Greater Trail at 5:30 p.m. Their second game has them matched up against Smithers at 7 p.m. on March 17 and their final round robin game is March 18 against Vancouver. With two weeks of practice behind them and an exhibition game from last weekend, Vaillancourt believes his team is good to go.
Against Greater Trail, the Vees managed just one tie in four games, but Vaillancourt said they match up well.
“It’s provincials, you have to play every game and come ready to play every game,” he said. “The quality of the teams, there is not going to be a lot of difference. I feel confident if we come ready to play that we will be competitive with any team.”
It’s Vaillancourt’s hope his team makes it to the playoff round on March. 19. The top two teams from the two pools advance to the semifinal round. The championship also features Saanich, Prince George, Ridge Meadows and the Okanagan champions, Kelowna. All games are at Memorial Arena.
Vaillancourt sees this championship as a chance to show how much his team has grown. He said they have had their ups and downs, but said their development has been good.
The peewee Tier 2 Vees are vying for a provincial title in Juan de Fuca on Vancouver Island from March 16-19, while the bantam Tier 2 Vees are in Mission from March 16-20.
In Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association playoff action, Penticton defeated Vernon in the Valley midget recreations final in Lumby. In the bantam final, the Vernon Sharks edged Penticton 2-1. Brayden Jones scored Penticton’s goal with 1:29 left in the second period.
The Penticton peewee Raptors won the District Playdowns in Clearwater March 7-9. They opened by defeating Lilloet 4-0. They lost the second game to Lumby 11-5 and tied Clearwater 4-4. After winning a decision for second place over Clearwater, Penticton had a rematch with Lumby. Tied 4-4, Cam Glibbery scored to go ahead goal with 1:57 remaining to bring home the banner.
The Penticton Peewee Ducks went undefeated in five games to take the South Okanagan tournament held March 7-9. This was the Ducks’ second consecutive tournament win, as they placed first in Kamloops in February.