Playoff attendance up 24%

The BCHL is reporting huge attendance figures for the 2017 playoffs.

Seventy-three playoff games attracted an average of 1,902 fans per game, a 24 per cent increase from last season.

“Playoffs always bring out the best in our teams and players and this season, that carried over to our fans,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale.

“With our champions from Penticton going to Game 7 in each round and the Fred Page Cup being decided on an overtime goal, there were plenty of highlights and I’m thrilled so many fans got out to watch.”

The Penticton Vees attracted an average of 3,279 fans over 11 home games. Their rivals from up the valley, the Vernon Vipers had an average of 2,265 fans come through the turnstiles at each of their six home games.

The Vees vs. Vipers match-up resulted in the biggest crowds for both teams. Game six attracted 3,158 to Kal Tire Place, while the following game seven was played in front of 4,033 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The spotlight remains on Penticton, the host of the Western Canada Cup. The event sees the champions of the four Western CJHL leagues, plus the Chilliwack Chiefs (Penticton was already in as the host), come to the South Okanagan Events Centre to determine two teams to go to the RBC Cup national championship in Cobourg, Ont.

The WCC runs April 29 to May 7 at the SOEC.


Warriors add d-man Head

The West Kelowna Warriors continue to add players to their roster as they continue preparing for the upcoming 2017-2018 BC Hockey League season.

The club announced this week defenceman Wyatt Head has committed to the team for this coming season.

Head, 18, spent last season with the Okanagan Rockets of the BC Major Midget League.

In 37 games, he scored 12 goals an 27 assists, while amassing 20 minutes in penalties.

Head also played a handful of games with the Warriors as an affiliated player due to injuries. In eight games he picked up two penalty minutes.

“He’s a very good young player that plays well at both ends of the ice,” says Warriors head coach and general manager Rylan Ferster, “In the games that Wyatt played with us this past season, he was poised with the puck and made good decisions without any hesitation.”

The newest member of the Warriors is excited for what lies ahead.

“I am super excited to be playing with a great organization in West Kelowna. They’ve had great success in the past and continue to grow the program year after year and I’m excited to be a part of it.

“I think it will definitely help having played quite a few games last year and practicing in West Kelowna. I know most of the guys so I think that the feeling out process should take less time and hopefully that transfers into me having an impact right away.”

2017-18 season tickets are on sale with some great prizes to be won if tickets are purchased by May 31st. Head down to the Warriors office or call Kim at (250) 769-7051 for more details on how to get yourself a seat for Warriors hockey for next season.

Vees win championship

The Penticton Vees are BCHL champions.

The Vees clinched the Fred Page Cup Tuesday night in Chilliwack in a nail-biting game seven, which went to overtime after three scoreless periods.

A stellar performance from Chilliwack netminder Mark Sinclair was not enough, who stopped 37 shots before being solved by Duncan Campbell with 10:39 to go in overtime.

The Chiefs fell short in the series comeback, after coming back from a 3 - 1 deficit to force a game seven by winning Monday in Penticton.

Vees’ goalie Mathew Robson took the shutout, stopping 26 shots.

It is the fourth BCHL championship for Vees coach Fred Harbinson, a league record.

The Vees now turn their sights to the Western Canada Cup, which they are hosting. The Vees’ play the Battleford North Stars Saturday April 29 at 7 p.m. on the opening day of the tournament.

Final faceoff for Vees, Chiefs

The Penticton Vees are heading to Chilliwack's Prospera Centre Tuesday evening for their final faceoff against the Chiefs for the Fred Page Cup.

The winner of tonight's game will take the BCHL's top title, but both teams will still advance to the Western Canada Cup playoffs to be held in Penticton starting Saturday.

It'll be the first time the BCHL playoffs finals have gone to game seven since 2010, following a 3-2 overtime win for the Chiefs. That win came with a three-point comeback in the last half-hour of the game, with the Vees leading the game 2-0 heading into the third.

The Vees are heading into the final game with some game-seven experience, having gone head-to-head with both the Vernon Vipers and the Merritt Centennials for game sevens in previous rounds of the playoffs.

If previous games in this series are any indication, an early lead is no assurance, and, if you're superstitious, may even be a bad omen.

In game four in Penticton last Wednesday, the Vees overtook Chilliwack 4-3 after going down three points halfway through the second. To follow that, the Chiefs had back-to-back comeback games, with a 4-2 win in Chilliwack on Saturday and a 3-2 win in Penticton last night. Both of those games saw the Chiefs down early on.

The Vees will need to keep an eye on Jordan Kawaguchi with the Chiefs, who has not only been the most prolific playoffs points-getter since 2004.

In front of the nets, Chiefs goaltender Mark Sinclair has slightly widened a sliver of a gap between his stats and Vees goalie Mat Robson.

Sinclair is holding at a 0.919 save percentage and 2.29 goals-against average versus Robson's 0.917 and 2.33.

Game seven starts at 7 p.m. at Prospera Centre in Chilliwack.

Chiefs force game seven

UPDATE: 10:03 p.m.

The Penticton Vees will head to Chilliwack on Tuesday for a decisive game seven for the Fred Page Cup final, after the Chiefs made a third-period and overtime comeback.

After going up 2-0 after the second period, with goals from Owen Sillinger and Grant Cruikshank, the Chiefs rallied and put two past Vees goalie Mat Robson in the third.

Those goals came from Davis Bunz and Kohen Olischefski.

Vees fans were furious with officiators, who made unpopular calls in the second period and a perceived lack of calls in overtime against the Chiefs.

The Vees were hit with a hooking penalty after Cassidy Bowes went chasing after a Chiefs player heading to the net.

The BCHL Fred Page Cup finals will be decided Tuesday evening in Chilliwack's Prospera Centre.

UPDATE: 9:29 p.m.

The Chilliwack Chiefs came roaring back in the third period, hungry for a seventh game battle for the Fred Page Cup.

With goals from Davis Bunz, just two minutes 21 seconds in and Kohen Olischefski with five minutes 25 seconds left, the game is tied at 2-2.

That will bring the Penticton Vees and the Chiefs to a head for an overtime period that will decide whether the BCHL playoffs finals will go to a seventh and final game.

Castanet will provide an update when the game comes to a close, or if it goes to a second overtime.

UPDATE: 8:32 p.m.

In a testy second period, the Penticton Vees advanced their lead over the Chilliwack Chiefs to 2-0.

The Vees' second goal of the game came from Owen Sillinger, shortly after the Vees killed a penalty.

Taylor Sanheim took a two-minute penalty for a hit to the head on Anthony Vincent, the second of a pair of unpopular penalties handed to the Vees.

The second period seemed to bring more hits and a rowdy crowd, displeased with the referees calls on Sanheim, as well as a previous hooking penalty.

Castanet will provide an update at the end of the game.

ORIGINAL: 7:45 p.m.

The Penticton Vees have ended the first period of game six against the Chilliwack Chiefs up a point, advancing their bid to end the BCHL playoffs for the year.

In a 3-2 series lead over the Chiefs, the Vees are just one win away from taking the Fred Page Cup and the BCHL title.

The only goal so far was scored by Grant Cruikshank nearly 12 minutes into an energetic game at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Vees are up 12 shots to 11.

Following the series, both teams will advance to the Western Canada Cup, to be hosted in Penticton starting on Saturday.

Castanet will provide an update at the end of each period.

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