The Vernon Vipers and Penticton Vees meet tonight for the 34th time in the last five B.C. Hockey League seasons. (Morning Star File Photo)

The Vernon Vipers and Penticton Vees meet tonight for the 34th time in the last five B.C. Hockey League seasons. (Morning Star File Photo)

Vipers visit Vees tonight

Longtime rivals meet again Saturday in Vernon

Left winger Kjell Kjemhus and goalie Max Palaga will make their B.C. Hockey League debuts tonight when the Vernon Vipers visit the Penticton Vees.

The longtime rivals finish their home-and-home series Saturday, 6 p.m., at Kal Tire Place. They are meeting for the first time this season.

Kjemhus, a 17-year-old out of Grande Prairie, Alta., has been in camp since last week. The 5-foot-9, 178-pounder compiled two goals and four points in 25 games with the Western Hockey League Prince George Cougars last year.

“He’s an energy guy; he works hard and he’s very familiar with the area,” said Viper head coach/GM Mark Ferner. “We’re not sure where we’ll put him tonight.”

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Kjemhus was taken by Prince George in Round 4 of the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.

The 6-foot-, 160-pound Palaga, meanwhile, was signed last week, replacing rookie Aidan Hosein of Halifax alongside rookie Aidan Porter.

“He hasn’t played in a while, but he deserves a start because we’re going with two goalies,” said Ferner. “He’s an athletic goalie.”

Palaga, 18, of Kamloops, went 5-7-2 with the WHL Blazers last year after playing Major Midget for the Thompson Okanagan Blazers.

The Vipers split their home games last weekend, shutting down the Wenatchee Wild 2-0 and losing 5-2 to the Merritt Centennials with a depleted lineup.

The Vees won 6-3 in Merritt and bounced the Alberni Valley Bulldogs 2-0 in their home opener before 3,410 fans at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Defenceman Jack Judson and forward Josh Latta lead the Vipers with three goals and six points apiece. Captain Jagger Williamson and Alex Swetlikoff come off Injured Reserve for Vernon tonight, while alternate captain Jesse Lansdell returns from a four-game suspension.

David Silye is Penticton’s top pointgetter with 13 (five goals), followed by Eric Linell with 11 (five goals).

The Vipers, Vees and the Salmon Arm Silverbacks are in a three-way share of fifth spot in the Interior Division with eight points, just two points back of the Cents and Wild. The Trail Smoke Eaters have nine points. Vernon entertains the Surrey Eagles Wednesday night.

Last season marked the first time since 2012-13 the two teams did not meet in the Fred Page Cup playoffs.

The Vees are 21-9-0-3 against the Vipers over the last five seasons.


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