The B.C. Hockey League’s oldest rivalry has seen and played for pretty much every imaginable scenario.
Except this: The Okanagan Cup.
On Saturday night, the Penticton Vees and Vernon Vipers will square off in what will likely be a once-in-a-lifetime moment, a winner-take-all championship game during, of all things, the exhibition season.
With the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc across the world, sports events in Canada have been dramatically altered, with fans not allowed to attend games.
This includes the BCHL, which forged ahead by putting out a unique exhibition schedule that features four-team pools. The goal was to have teams more than ready when regular-season play is expected to begin in early December.
In the Okanagan, Penticton, Vernon, West Kelowna and Salmon Arm have been playing each other every weekend since late September.
On Friday night, the four teams squared off in semifinal play, with Penticton defeating Salmon Arm 5-2 and Vernon upsetting West Kelowna 2-0.
The Vees are 12-1 this pre-season while the Vipers are 4-6-1-2.
West Kelowna had the second-best record at 7-5, with Salmon Arm at 3-9-1-0.
Game time between the Vees and Vipers at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton is 6 p.m.
The game is available with a free audio stream here, on pay-per-view at HockeyTV.com and on Shaw Spotlight.
Penticton 5, Salmon Arm 2
At Penticton, Connor Bouchard had a three-point night with two goals and an assist as the Vees eliminated the Silverbacks.
Quinn Hutson, Jacob Quillan and Luc Wilson also scored for Penticton, which led 1-0 after the first period and 2-1 after 40 minutes.
Hutson opened the scoring at 12:24 of the first period, with Quillan making it 2-0 at 1:42 of the second. Bouchard scored back-to-back goals in the third at 2:27 and 6:57, making it 4-1 and sealing the game, with Wilson rounding out the scoring at 13:08.
Salmon Arm’s Simon Tassy scored at 15:13 of the second period to make it 2-1, and it was Logan Shaw at 11:27 of the third to make it 4-2.
Cole Schwebius stopped 18 of 23 shots for the Silverbacks, with Yanic Perets turning aside 35 of 37 shots for the Vees.
Penticton was 2-for-4 on the power play while Vernon was 1-for-6.
Vernon 2, West Kelowna 0
At West Kelowna, goaltender Koen MacInnes was unbeatable for Vernon, stopping all 31 shots he faced, as the Vipers blanked the Warriors.
Vernon’s goals came from Jojo Tanaka-Campbell, midway through the first period, and Cameron MacDonald, late in the third.
Tanaka-Campbell opened the scoring by pouncing on a loose puck at 10:10 of the low-scoring affair.
The game then remained scoreless for the next 48 minutes and 57 seconds, until MacDonald scored an empty-net goal at 19:07 to make it 2-0.
The game ended with a slew of penalties, with 10 misconducts handed to both teams.
Johnny Derrick stopped 25 of 26 shots for the Warriors.
Vernon was 0-for-2 on the power play while West Kelowna was 0-for-5.
Around the BCHL
On Nov. 8, the league cancelled seven pre-season games involving teams from the Lower Mainland because of restrictions regarding sporting events put in place by the provincial health office.
Teams affected included the Chilliwack Chiefs, Coquitlam Express, Langley Rivermen, Surrey Eagles and Powell River Kings.