Snake Charmers & Bear Tamers

  • This past weekend marked the third time this month the Vees have swept their weekend schedule. Think about this for a moment. In the first three weekends of October, they’ve played on back-to-back nights, all home-road splits, and have won out on all three weekends. That’s impressive.
  • There’s more to these two-game weekends than jut lacing up the skates and playing well for sixty-minutes. When teams are faced with weekend splits, one home game and one road game, it creates a full schedule. Take this past weekend for example, the Vees were in Vernon on Friday then back home Saturday. It’s not the longest trip to Vernon but you’re looking at an hour and forty-five minutes each way and it becomes a long night when you add it all up. Post-game, you pack up, head out to pickup your post-game meal, then drive back to Penticton. Unpack your gear and when you’re done and putting your head on the pillow it’s the early hours of Saturday morning. Compounding matters is the Saturday game is at 6 p.m. not 7 p.m. So everything you do pre-game is pushed up an hour. Players and Training staff have it the worst on these weekends. No, it isn’t an Island Division road trip but these weekends aren’t a cake walk either.
  • Just looking back at Saturday and it had “trap game” written all over it. The Vees were in Vernon the night prior, facing a long-time rival. They win a tight contest and then you’re back home less than twenty-four hours later playing a non-divisional opponent. Credit the Vees for not sagging on Saturday and grinding out another one-goal win.
  • What I liked about this weekend was not only the wins but how the Vees won. Everyone wants to talk about their offense and rightfully so but the Vees have quietly gone about being the best defensive team in the BCHL. They have allowed a league low 22 goals in 11 games. Their goals-against average (2.00) is over a half a goal per-game lower than the next best team (Chilliwack is second at 2.55). During this seven-game win streak the Vees have only surrendered 11 goals; just two in their last nine periods of hockey. TWO. To put that into perspective, West Kelowna allowed seven goals against Vernon Saturday and Cowichan Valley surrendered 15 goals in their two games this weekend.
  • Remember, their stingy play away from the puck has come when they’re minus two of their best defensive players. Patrick Sexton is one of the Vees best defensive defenseman and plays on the Vees first unit penalty-kill. Cody DePourcq, though a forward, is regarded as one of the best two-way forwards in the BCHL. DePourcq usually is matched up against the opposition’s top forwards and also sees significant time on the penalty-kill. Those two have been out of the line-up since October 3rd and October 10th respectively.
  • A big key to the Vees defensive success has been the man tending to the net. Hunter Miska has gone about his business and now leads the BCHL in wins (8), is second in goals-against average (1.81) and save-percentage (.935). To take that a step further, if you use, say 300 minutes as a bench mark for starting goaltenders, Miska has the best goals-against average and save-percentage. He was so sound on Friday night in Vernon and again Saturday against Victoria. You can see how confident he is right now by his demeanor in the crease. He’s one of, if not the most competitive goaltenders I’ve seen in my four years in Penticton. Miska hates, I mean HATES, getting scored on. Even in practice. When the team does flow drills, two-on-one rushes and the like, Miska is hell-bent on stopping every shot. Every shot.
  • The group of six on the blue-line needs some love as well. They’re minus their leader in Sexton but still managing to do more than enough to get the job done. Guys like Mike Lee and Miles Gendron continue to get better in each and every game. I thought Lee had his best game as a Vee on Saturday and I thought Gendron did on Friday. In what the two lack in size, they makeup for in ability and foot speed. Both are great skaters who can close gaps down quickly and turn and chase down forwards in a hurry. I really noticed Lee has this ability to use his stick and reach to disrupt a lot of defensive zone pressure from the opposition. When others maybe didn’t have their best games on Saturday, guys like Lee stepped up and filled the void; he was more than deserving of his third star recognition.
  • I’ve read this weekend how “physical” teams were against the Vees and how they “threw their bodies” at them. Yes, teams try to target the Vees physically to disrupt their game. Has it worked in short stretches? Sure. Has it led to them losing because they were “physically outmatched?” No. Yep, last night the Grizzlies had some success early on with their fore-check pressure and using their size to lean on the Vees. But as the game turned to the second and third period, the Vees, like they’ve done so many times before, adapted and excelled. When you’re throwing your weight around a lot, it usually means you don’t have the puck and you’re chasing. The Vees are a pretty quick group and their conditioning is second to none, and that has led to penalty trouble for the opposition. Now, if the Vees power-play can get on track, then teams will take notice of trying to go after them so much.
  • The Vees have had a power-play goal in their last three games but they haven’t been able to build on that. They were one for four Saturday, one for five Friday and one for six back on October 11th in West Kelowna. I’m still holding out to see them really do damage with the power-play and that will hopefully happen soon. They’ve had their looks, including last night but you also have to get some bounces and luck. That necessarily hasn’t been there for them with the man-advantage. Last night it was great to see them tie the game on the power-play after Victoria opened the scoring on a power-play of their own. Critical timing.
  • A lot of focus has been on the likes of Jost, Lewis Zerter-Gossage and Demico Hannoun and rightfully so. But the Vees have been getting some really significant contributions throughout their line-up. Look at last night, their “fourth-line” manufactured the game-winning goal late in the second period. What stood out for me was the fact the coaches put out their fourth-line inside the final two-minutes of the period. That was the Vees coaches showing faith with their depth players and that trust was rewarded with the game-winner. A big key this year has been the Vees depth and how they seem to wear down opponents by continually rolling their lines. Last night was a perfect example, the Vees kept using all four lines right up until the final moments of the third. Victoria was using their depth players early on but when they fell behind, the bench got shorter and maybe their gas tank too. That was the same story on Friday night, as Vernon heavily taxed their two lines when they fell behind. If the Vees are going to continue to have success, all four lines and three defensive pairings will have to continue to make significant contributions. This is stressed even more with their tough schedule this week, which sees the Vees play three games in four nights, with lots of bus travel. They head up to Prince George for a Thursday game, drive back home through the night and into the early hours of Friday. Then it’s a home game Saturday against Vernon, before jumping right back on the bus Sunday for a matinée in Salmon Arm. They’ll be tested physically and mentally this weekend and they need to be using a full bench. Ice time needs to spread out throughout the line-up this week to keep everyone fresh over this tough stretch.
  • Another big key for the Vees this year, has been their success against their own division. They’ve only not gained maximum points from an Interior Division game once out of eight games. Their only blemish is a 5-0 loss to Merritt back on September 27th; they haven’t lost since. They’re 7-1-0-0 against their own division and that’s a big reason why they have a six-point lead on second place. Every game is important in a 58 game schedule, but you really make hay within your own division and so far, so good for the Vees.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Quick Recap: Vees 2 Victoria 1; Win Streak at 7

GAME RECAP 

BOXSCORE 

An abbreviated post-game post. I’ll have a detailed recap of the weekend on a Sunday morning post. Vees have now seven in a row with a 2-1 win over the Victoria Grizzlies.

They’re 10-1-0-0 on the year, 4-0-0-0 at the SOEC and 5-0-0-0 as the home team*. The Vees are off until next Thursday when they travel to Prince George.

*Bauer BCHL Showcase.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GM #11 Preview: Vees Look for their 7th Straight Win

Oct 18

GAME TIME: 6 p.m.

VENUE: SOEC

LISTENEZ ROCK AM 800

WATCH: Fasthockey Pay-Per-View 

SEASON SERIES:

OCT 18TH: Grizzlies at Vees NOV 7TH: Vees at Grizzlies

 

VEES HOME RECORD: 4-0-0-0

VEES RECORD VS ISLAND DIVISION: 1-0-0-0

VEES STREAK: Six wins

VEES TOP SCORER: Tyson Jost (6-7-13)

 

GRIZZLIES ROAD RECORD: 3-2-0-0

GRIZZLIES RECORD VS INTERIOR DIVISION: 2-0-0-0

GRIZZLIES STREAK: One win

GRIZZLIES TOP SCORER: Dane Gibson (2-8-10)

The Penticton Vees are in search of their seventh straight win Saturday, when they host the Victoria Grizzlies at the SOEC. The Vees won their sixth in a row Friday in Vernon, downing the Vipers 3-1 at Kal-Tire Place. Also the Vees are a perfect 4-0-0-0* at home and 3-0-0-0 at the SOEC.

*One home win at the Bauer BCHL Showcase.

The Grizzlies are coming off a win as well on Friday, as they went into Salmon Arm and edged the Silverbacks 3-2 at the Shaw Centre. Friday was the first of a three-game Interior Division road trip for the Grizz, who wrap up their weekend tomorrow afternoon in Merritt.

Demico Hannoun scored twice for the Vees Friday, including the game-winner midway through the second period. Matt Serratore added an empty-net goal in the dying moments of the third period. Hunter Miska was terrific on Friday, winning his fifth straight start, stopping 32 of 33 Viper shots.

Tonight is the Vees second game against an Island Division opponent and first non-divisional gam since September 20th. On that day, the Vees posted a 4-3 win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at the Bauer BCHL Showcase. Tonight marks the first of two straight non-divisional games for the Vees, as they are in Prince George to face the Spruce Kings next Thursday.

The Vees will ice the same line-up tonight as they did on Friday night in Vernon. Co-Captains Cody DePourcq and Patrick Sexton remain out of the line-up as they recover from upper-body injuries. Hunter Miska gets the start once again in goal.

Vees Notes:

  • The Vees had their way with the Island Division last year, posting a 9-2-0-1 record.
  • The Vees won two of three last year against Victoria. They took a 2-1 decision at the Bauer BCHL Showcase and a 3-2 victory in Victoria in February.
  • Victoria’s last visit to the SOEC was back on February 15th. The Grizz posted a 3-1 win over the Vees.
  • Demico Hannoun is riding a six-game point streak heading into tonight’s action. Hannoun has seven goals and 11 points during the streak.
  • Speaking of streaks, Tyson Jost’s first period assist Friday, extended his point streak to six games; he has three goals and seven points during that stretch.
  • Quietly, Riley Alferd has gone about putting together a five-game point’s streak. His assist Friday gives him four goals and seven points over the five games.

The Grizzlies clawed out a 3-2 win in tight contest in Salmon Arm Friday. Tied 1-1 to start the third, the Grizzlies scored twice on goals from Captain Shawn McBride and Brett Gruber to build a 3-1 lead. The Silverbacks made a game of it late, as Colton Thibault scored inside the final two minutes. Rookie netminder Sean Clearly got the win between the pipes, stopping 28 of 30 shots.

The Grizzlies are playing somewhat short-handed as newly acquired defenseman Jake Emilo was put on the 30-day injured reserve yesterday, for what is described as a lower-body injury.

Victoria is playing some good hockey of late, as they’re 3-1-0-1 in the month of October and have won three of their last four games. Their only regulation loss this month was a 4-3 decision at home against Nanaimo last Saturday.

No, they don’t have the Fitzgerald triplets anymore, as the three brothers have graduated from the BCHL and are currently playing at Bemidji State University. Those three accounted for most of the Grizzlies offense last year. This season, it’s more of scoring by committee approach for the Grizz, as they have eight players with five or more points. The top three in team scoring are all returnees, as Dane Gibson leads the pack with 10 points, followed by Garrett Forester (4-4-8) and Jay Mackie (2-6-8).

There’s also a new face behind the bench, as Brad Knight is in his first season as a BCHL bench boss. Victoria split the season with two Head Coaches last year, as Bill Bestwick was replaced by Craig Didmond midway through the season.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GM #10 Recap: Vees Tame Snakes, Win Sixth Straight

Game Recap Oct 17

GAME RECAP 

BOXSCORE 

Demico Hannoun’s game-winning goal in the second period.

  • The Penticton Vees won their sixth straight on Friday and it necessarily wasn’t the way they envisioned how they wanted the game to play out. They had a slow start but did get the all important lead on the road late in the first. They got better as the game moved into the second, including their power-play padding the lead midway through the frame. In the third their priorities turned to their play away from the puck, as they snuffed out the Vernon comeback.
  • Their performance was somewhat reflective of the game its self, as both teams fought the puck at times but both teams also traded chances. Last Saturday we saw a very structured and methodical performance from the Vees in West Kelowna. Friday night the game was a bit more open, due to the fact that both teams could really skate. I guess what I’m trying to get at is there was less structure to Friday’s win than the Vees previous wins. But give them credit, they never trailed and found ways to pick up goals when they needed to.
Cherie Morgan Photography 2014

Cherie Morgan Photography 2014

Hunter Miska was, to me, the reason the Vees carried a lead into both the first and second intermission. At the start of the game the Vees were on their heels, as the Vipers had four quality looks on goal inside the first 10 minutes. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said post-game they didn’t like their start. He said the Vees were too indecisive with the puck, especially in their own end and that created scoring chances for the Vipers. Two saves early in the first stood out for me. The first, was a left-pad save by Miska who came across sliding from right to left to thwart a cross-crease pass. The second, was a point-blank arm save off of TJ Dumonceaux right on top of the crease. The puck was dished out front from behind the net and Dumonceaux one-timed the pass but Miska got his glove arm on the shot. The second period featured his best save of the night. The fine folks over at HockeyTube.net captured this save on video.

  • Yes, that was the save of the game, as stated by the voice of the Vipers Graham Turnbull. Wow. With a player falling in his crease, Miska still manages to track the puck through traffic and as he’s falling forward, flings his glove-arm in the air to deny Luke Shiplo on the rebound.  They gave Miska the third star in building but he should have been bumped up to the second or even first star. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said the confidence and self belief Miska has is second to none. That confidence he exudes is reassuring for the guys that plays in front of him.
Cherie Morgan Photography 2014

Cherie Morgan Photography 2014

  • The other guy that was in the running for the Vees best player award on Friday was Demico Hannoun. He clearly was  motivated to go back and face his former team for the first time and in their rink. The former Viper had the Vees first two goals and his power-play goal in the second turned out to be the game-winner. With his two goals Friday, Hannoun pushed his point-streak to six games. In his last six games the North Delta, BC, product has seven goals and 11 points. It’s not just his offense that’s impressive but his play away from the puck. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley post-game said, in all his time watching Hannoun play in this league and at the Major Midget level, this season is the hardest he’s seen him compete. Hannoun’s defensive play gets overlooked but there was one play that stood out for me. Late in the game, with the Vees up 2-1, Hannoun stepped up on Vipers defenseman Luke Shiplo and laid his shoulder into his chest to force the puck out of the Vees zone. I don’t know if we would have seen that from Hannoun last year.
  • Psst, Riley Alferd extended his point streak to five games. Alferd assisted on Matt Serratore’s empty-net goal in the dying moments of the game. In his last five games, Alferd has four goals and seven points. In 57 games last year, Alferd averaged .04 points per-game. Through 10 games this year, Alferd is averaging nearly a point-per game at .09. He’s only two goals away from tying his entire output from last season.
  • The Vees back-end might get overlooked in this game, as a lot of the attention went to Hunter Miska. But the group of six turned in another solid performance on Friday. Remember, they’ve been missing their most veteran player and Captain in Patrick Sexton since October 3rd. Mike Lee continues to take steps in the right direction, as he’s learning how to simplify his approach. His deception abilities are second to none, as he can dance around forwards like nobody else, but he’s also learning the sometimes the simple play isn’t a bad option. He’s not overly big in stature but he has this uncanny ability to get pucks off forwards; he’s great with his stick. There were one too many odd-man rushes for the coaches liking but for the most part, the D-core was very sound and hey, they only surrendered the one goal against.
  • One of these days the power-play is going to explode. They did score a key goal last night which is encouraging but the Vees has several chances to do more damage with the man-advantage. I guess the good sign is they’ve been producing chances. Their first two power-plays Friday weren’t great but power-plays three through five looked much better and they got some quality looks on net. Just before the Hannoun power-play goal in the second, Tyson Jost and Lewis Zerter-Gossage had great looks at the net during a scramble at the top of the crease. The Vipers goalie Jarrod Schamerhorn was down lying on his back but the puck somehow stayed out. Oh well, it will come. Patience.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GM #10 Preview: Vees @ Vipers; Looking for 6th Straight Win

Oct 17

Game Time: 7pm

Arena: Kal-Tire Place, Vernon

Listen: EZ Rock AM 800

WatchFasthockey Pay-Per-View

Season Series:

Oct 17th: Vees @ Vipers Oct 25th: Vipers @ Vees

Nov 14th: Vees @ Vipers Dec 5th: Vees @ Vipers

Jan 2nd: Vipers @ Vees Feb 11th: Vipers @ Vees

Feb 27th: Vipers @ Vees

Tonight the Penticton Vees look for their sixth straight win when the visit the Vernon Vipers at Kal-Tire Place. Tonight is the first of seven regular season meetings with the Vipers, four of which will be at the SOEC.

This is the first meeting between these two since their seven-game Interior Division Final playoff series last March. The Vees have nine holdovers on their roster from that series; the Vipers have five. Demico Hannoun, who’s riding a five-game point streak (5-4-9), is facing his former team for the first time. Hannoun was with the Vipers last year but landed in Penticton after two separate off-season trades.

Hannoun’s line-mate, Lewis Zerter-Gossage also has a hot hand, as he has eight points in his last five games.  Zerter-Gossage received an honourable mention for last weeks’ BCHL Player of the Week award.

Hunter Miska is the probable starter for the Vees and he’s on a run of his own. Miska has won his last first starts and leads the BCHL in wins (6) and is third in save-percentage (.924 %). Miska is coming off a 29-save shutout last Saturday against West Kelowna.

The Vees will be without both of their Co-Captains, as Cody DePourcq and Patrick Sexton are still recovering from injuries.

Vees Notes:

  • The Vees are tied for second in the BCHL in goals (39) and at the same time have surrendered the fewest in the league (20).
  • The power-play is starting to turn a corner. After a slow start, the Vees are 4-20 in their last five games, which is good for 20 percent.
  • Speaking of special teams, the penalty-kill bounced back last Saturday. The Vees PK was a perfect 5-for-5 against West Kelowna and is ranked fifth on the road at 82 percent.
  • The Vees five-game win streak has come against Interior Division opponents. They’re an impressive 5-1-0 against their own division. A big reason why they have a five-point lead atop of the Interior.

The Vipers are coming off a 5-4 overtime win against the Chilliwack Chiefs last Saturday in Vernon. In that game, the Vipers erased 2-0 and 3-1 deficits. Thomas Aldworth was the OT hero, converting on breakaway 48 seconds into the extra frame.

Despite their third straight win, new/old Head Coach Mark Ferner told the Vernon Morning Star his team still has room to improve ahead of the match up with the Vees, “We want a strong worth ethic, we want to be aggressive on the puck, we want to win races to the puck and we want to be tough to play against.”

Despite return just five players from last year’s RBC Host team, the Vipers are still a veteran club, comprised of 13 players ages 19 or 20.

One of the new, veteran players leading the way is 19-year-old Thomas Aldworth. The Texan leads the Vipers in scoring with five goals and eight points. Right behind Aldworth is 20-year-old Anthony Latina. The ex-QMJHL product has four goals and seven points in nine games. Rounding out the top three in team scoring is Trevor Fidler, who has two goals and six points.

Veteran Danny Todosychuk was anointed as the number one between the pipes at the start of the year but went down with an injury and hasn’t played since September 27th. Jarrod Schamerhorn has carried the mail since and is 3-2-0 since taking over the starting role.

Vipers Notes:

  • The Vipers are on a win streak of their own, as they’ve won their last three outings, all at home. The Snakes are 3-2-0-1* at home. *Overtime loss was at the BCHL Bauer Showcase in Chilliwack.
  • The Vipers power-play has been anemic to start the season. The Vipers have scored just once on the man-advantage through nine games. Their last in the BCHL on the power-play, which is 1-for-44.
  • The Vipers haven’t scored a power-play goal at home yet, as they’re 0-for-27 at Kal-Tire Place. In fact, they’ve scored more short-handed goals (3) than power-play goals (1) this season.
  • Though they posted five goals in their last game, the Vipers offense still ranks last in the BCHL with a league low 24 goals. They’re three behind the Surrey Eagles who’ve scored 23 goals through 10 games.
  • In their last 10 home games against the Vees, the Vipers have posted a 4-6-0 record. That stat courtesy of the Vipersdiehardfan blog. Check that out here 
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Week in the BCHL

BCHL

Admittedly I’ve been slow on the uptake but I’ve built a page featuring another season of “This Week in the BCHL” podcast. The weekly podcast covers the Okanagan teams from the BCHL, including the Vees. Graham Turbull (Vernon) is the host and there is regular contributions from Kyle Anderson (West Kelowna) and myself.

Episode three is below and you can find episodes 1 and 2 on the dedicated page at the top of the blog. Every week I’ll post the latest episodes on the “BCHL This Week” page.

Enjoy,

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vees Climb to 4th in CJHL Rankings

image

CALGARY, Alberta (October 13, 2014) – Only two teams remain unbeaten in the CJHL this far in to the regular season. Manitoba’s Portage Terriers (MJHL) and Saskatchewan’s Notre Dame Hounds (SJHL) remain atop their provincial standings with perfect records. Across all ten leagues however, early season favorites are starting to find their games and the league standings are becoming very competitive.

In the BCHL, the Penticton Vees are rolling along with a five-game winning streak and are opening a lead in the very tough Interior Division. The Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL have stumbled slightly, and have seen the Viterra North Division powerhouse, the Spruce Grove Saints, catch fire with their very own five-game winning streak, and now are tied with the Kodiaks atop the overall standings.

The Notre Dame Hounds of the SJHL sit in first place in the league standings, and although the Melfort Mustangs are tied with same the amount of points, they have played 3 more games than the Hounds. The Portage Terriers lead the MJHL, but the Winnipeg Blues and Winkler Flyers are hot on their tail. 

Meanwhile in the SIJHL, the Fort Frances Lakers have a slim one point lead over the Dryden Ice Dogs. The NOJHL might be the most competitive league in the CJHL with six teams out the nine team league within two points of the overall standings lead. 

The Trenton Golden Hawks have scored an impressive 64 goals for while only allowing 29 goals against as the OJHL’s East Division has the Trenton Golden Hawks, Cobourg Cougars, and the Whitby Fury all tied with the most points in the OJHL. 
The Carleton Place Canadians lead the CJHL and CCHL with 15 wins, while the real race is between the Cornwall Colts, Hawksbury Hawks, Ottawa Jr ‘A’ Senators, and the Nepean Raiders who are all within two points of each other for second place overall in the CCHL.

The Cougars de Sherbrooke are still on top of the LHJQ, but are being pursued closely by Les Panthers de Saint Jerome and the Rangers de Montreal-Est. The Woodstock Slammers are still rolling in the MHL, with the Dieppe Commandos right behind them in the standings.  

The Pictou County Weeks Crushers and the Truro Bearcats have found their winning ways over the past week of competition 

Top 20 Rankings

1.    Portage Terriers (MJHL) (1)
2.    Notre Dame Hounds (SJHL) (2)
3.    Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (3)
4.    Penticton Vees (BCHL) (14)
5.    Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL) (9)
6.    Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL) (4)
7.    Winnipeg Blues (MJHL) (12)
8.    Woodstock Slammers (MHL) (8)
9.    Cobourg Cougars (OJHL) (5)
10.    Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL) (11)
11.    Cornwall Colts (CCHL) (8)
12.    Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (NOJHL) (NR)
13.    Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (NR)
14.    Cougars de Sherbrooke (LHJQ) (20)
15.    Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL) (18) 
16.    Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) (NR)
17.    Whitby Fury (OJHL) (HM)
18.    Dryden Ice Dogs (SIHL) (HM)
19.    Dieppe Commandos (MHL) (19)
20.    Pantheres  de Saint Jerome (LHJQ) (NR)    

Honourable Mention: Prince George Spruce Kings (BCHL), Winkler Flyers (MJHL), Sudbury Nickel Barons (NOJHL), Cochrane Crunch (NOJHL), Rangers de Montreal-Est (LHJQ)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment