One of the Penticton Vees prized off-season recruits is already proving to be worth his Weight in goals.
The 18-year-old centre from Lattingtown, N.Y. racked up a goal and four assists as the Vees pasted the Trail Smoke Eaters 7-1 Saturday to complete a lopsided sweep of back-to-back games in Trail to launch the BCHL regular season.
Weight also had an assist as the Vees beat the Smokies 4-1 on Friday, and is the BCHL’s early-season point leader with six.
Vees GM and head coach Fred Harbinson said the squad was dialed in for two straight games against a veteran team in a tough building.
“I thought our speed and transition game really caused problems for Trail,” said Harbinson. “Our compete level for 120 minutes was extremely high … it was 6-0 in the third period and our guys were laying out and blocking shots. There wasn’t a hint of selfish play the whole weekend.”
Liam Malmquist notched two goals and two assists, Jay O’Brien also scored twice, Connor Hutchison had a goal and two assists and Steve Holtz a goal and a helper for the Vees on Saturday.
Captain David Silye logged two assists and Derek Krall made 29 saves in his regular season debut.
Harbinson acknowledged the Vees got offence from up and down the lineup over the two games.
“We’re not going to be one-act or one-player team … we can play a lot of different ways and we got contributions from everyone,” said Harbinson. “You need that to win these days.”
Michael Colella spoiled Krall’s shutout bid by scoring 7:11 into the third period. Vees rookie Yaniv Perets also had his shutout bid stopped by a late goal in Friday’s opener.
For the second straight night, Trail starter Donovan Buskey had to be pulled in the face of a ferocious Vees offensive onslaught. Buskey was lifted at 8:01 of the second period after making just 12 saves on 17 shots, many of which were from dangerous scoring areas.
Rookie Logan Terness came on to make 21 saves on 23 shots.
“Both our goaltenders looked strong and poised in the net, made some real key saves when we needed them,” said Harbinson. “Our defence core was really effective in limiting the time and space they had in our end of the ice. Our special teams were terrific and we shut down one of the premier players in the league (centre Kent Johnson).”
Weight – bound for Boston College in 2020-21 - scored his first BCHL goal on a rebound at 4:34 of the first period and the rout was on.
The Vees led 3-0 and 6-0 at the period breaks and connected on three of seven power play opportunities. The Vees penalty killing was once again perfect in thwarting four Trail power plays.
Weight, Malmquist and Hutchison were the three stars though for the second straight night the Vees had very few passengers in the complete team effort.
Harbinson said he wasn’t sure how the team would respond in practice on Monday after the wildly successful visit to the Kootenays.
“If anyone thought they’d be lazy and sluggish, it was the complete opposite,” said the veteran coach. “They worked like crazy in the gym and they were outstanding on the ice. They didn’t want to take any shortcuts and they wanted to go as hard as they could for as long as we needed.
“It was a great sign and showed the maturity and leadership of the group. We have to put (the weekend) behind us now because we’ve got some more tough games in tough buildings coming up.”
The Vees will continue on a stretch of six straight road games to open the campaign as they visit the Merritt Centennials on Friday and the Prince George Spruce Kings on Saturday.
Penticton also visits Cowichan Valley and the Nanaimo the Sept. 21-22 weekend before their home opener Friday, Sept. 27 versus West Kelowna Warriors.