The Penticton Vees are looking to end the BCHL Finals in game six at the SOEC Monday night, as it heads into the game with a 3-2 series lead over the Chilliwack Chiefs.
This follows a 4-2 loss to the Chiefs at Prospera Centre, which included four points (two goals) from Chilliwack's chief goalscorer Jordan Kawaguchi, along with goals from Colin Bernard and Anthony Vincent.
That win came despite the Vees taking a two-point lead within four minutes, including a goal from captain Nicholas Jones and Taylor Sanheim. In nearly a mirror opposite in game four at the SOEC, the Vees were down 3-0 halfway through the second period, but made a four-point comeback with an overtime win.
Penticton hasn't taken the Fred Page Cup on home ice since 1986, when the Penticton Knights, the city's Junior A team at the time, overtook the Richmond Sockeyes. The Vees have three Fred Page wins in the past 10 years, all on the road, including their most recent win two years ago.
The Vees' biggest challenge heading to game six will likely be Kawaguchi, who has tallied 13 points five games into the series, with a goal or assist on 13 of 14 Chiefs goals against Penticton. But that's just a fraction of his total points in the playoffs at 41, which gives him the most points in the playoffs since 2004.
It's that level of scoring that's led to the Vees calling Kawaguchi "literally a one-man wrecking crew."
Vees goaltender Mat Robson is heading into the game with near-equal statistics with the Chiefs' goalie Mark Sinclair. Both hold a 2.32 goals-against average, and while Robson has a 0.918 save percentage, Sinclair's tops that by a hair at 0.919.
The teams face off at the SOEC at 7 p.m. on Monday.
The best-of-seven series for the Fred Page Cup is heading back to Penticton, after the Vees’ fell to the Chiefs 4 - 2 in Chilliwack Saturday night.
Chiefs captain Jordan Kawaguchi led the way with two goals and two assists.
The Vees trailed for the last half of the game, coming close to equalizing several times, but were stonewalled by Chilliwack netminder Mark Sinclair, who stopped 24 of 26 shots. The Chiefs eventually closed it out with an empty-net goal.
Vees' goals came from Taylor Sanheim and Nicholas Jones.
Game six will go at the South Okanagan Events Centre on Monday night. Puck drop is at seven.
While the Penticton Vees made an outstanding three-point comeback in game four against the Chilliwack Chiefs on Wednesday, head coach Fred Harbinson says it was "disappointing" to be down 3-0 to begin with.
Wednesday's comeback took the Vees to a 4-3 overtime victory after the team was down 3-0 halfway through the game. That win pushed the Vees one win closer to winning the Fred Page Cup, with a 3-1 lead in the BCHL finals.
"It was real disappointing to be down three, to be honest with you," Harbinson said on this week's Vees' View with Coach Harbinson. "We didn't think we were playing all that poorly. I think the first seven or eight minutes, we get I think three power plays, we get the five-on-three, we don't score, it almost took a lot of the flow out of the game."
Along with that, Harbinson lamented the notion that every mistake seemed to equate to a goal for the Chiefs early on.
"We make one mistake, you're down one nothing, then you take a penalty, you're down two nothing," he said. "You go in between periods and try to get the guys rallied up, and then you give another one up, and then it looks like the game's going to slide away from you."
But with more than half of the game left, Harbinson says there was ample time for a comeback.
"I thought we started chipping away, started building some momentum," Harbinson said. "It goes without saying we needed to score the next goal and we did. It was a real heavy-shift-type goal that kind of sparked the whole building, and we went from there."
The Vees play game five in Chilliwack on Saturday, with hopes of taking the series, with two more games tentatively scheduled for Penticton on Monday and Chilliwack on Tuesday.
After that, the Vees won't have long before the Western Canada Cup, which, according to Harbinson, is looking like a solid lineup of junior hockey.
"It's going to be a fun ... 13 games," Harbinson said.
"There's a history with us with Portage, with Brooks, and then you've got, obviously, Chilliwack, we're going through the series right now, and then you've got North Battleford who hasn't lost a playoff game yet."