Ethan Mann

Penticton Vees forward Ethan Mann, who’s no slouch on offence, plays defence during an Oct. 1 win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Mann, an 18-year-old Wisconsin native, notched two goals and two assists in five exhibition games.

After a perfect exhibition campaign, the Penticton Vees are now looking forward to opening their 54-game regular season this coming Friday night at home against the Vernon Vipers.

The club went 5-0 in the B.C. Hockey League pre-season, outscoring the competition by a combined 21-12 margin. That included a pair of weekend wins over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.

The first came Oct. 1 in Salmon Arm as Casey McDonald scored twice and added an assist in the 6-4 victory. One night later in Penticton, Spencer Smith notched a pair of goals to pace the Vees to a 5-2 win.

The captain, Fin Williams, led all Vees skaters with nine points – three goals and six assists – in the pre-season, followed by Jackson Nieuwendyk with six and Luc Wilson with five.

Starting netminder Kaeden Lane won all three of his pre-season appearances with a combined 2.67 goals-against average, while Colin Purcell collected two wins and a 1.97 GAA.

None of that will matter, though, when the puck drops this Friday, 7 p.m., at the South Okanagan Events Centre as the Vipers – who notched just one pre-season win – visit for Game 1 of the 2021-22 campaign.

Once the Vipers are gone, the Vees will continue a season-opening three-game homestand on Saturday night with a visit from the Wenatchee Wild.

To accommodate cross-border travel restrictions, the BCHL has adjusted its schedule to limit teams’ travel to the Wild’s home base in Washington State.

For the Vees, that means three separate road trips to Wenatchee planned throughout the season will be combined into a single three-game set in late January.

And because U.S. land borders are still closed to most travellers, the Vees will fly to Washington State and then drive home when they’re done. Other teams in the Interior Division will follow suit.

Four clubs from the Coastal Division were also set to visit Wenatchee this season for single games, which have now been cancelled outright.

The four Coastal Division teams will instead make up those games against each other, while the Wild will see those four contests dropped from their schedule, resulting in a 50-game regular season for Wenatchee.

To smooth out that unbalanced schedule, BCHL standings this season will be based on the percentage of available points earned per game rather than total points.

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