Post-Game GM #4: Shooting Blanks in Merritt

  • The Vees perfect start to their BCHL regular season came to an end on Saturday in Merritt. The Cents’ scored twice at the end of the first and added one in the second and two more in the third, cruising to a 5-0 win in their home opener.
  • It’s early, VERY early but there’s a logjam at the top of the Interior Division standings, as it’s a four-way tie for first. The Vees, Cents’, West Kelowna Warriors and Salmon Arm Silverbacks all sport 3-1 records. I don’t think that will change much throughout the season; it will be tight.
  • Back to Saturday’s game and I would simply characterize it as “one of those nights” where nothing went right for the Vees. No matter what they seemed to do they couldn’t catch a break and it seemed any mistake they made ended up in the back of their net.
  • Take the first for example.Despite being down 2-0 after the opening period I thought the Vees played pretty well. In fact, I liked their first period Saturday more than their first period Friday in Trail when they were tied 0-0 after twenty minutes with the Smokies. Unfortunately on Saturday the two mistakes in the period ended up costing them. The first Merritt goal came off a bad pitch by the defenseman in the neutral zone and the second was after a fumble by Hunter Miska on a routine shot; he handles that puck cleanly 99 times out of 100.
  • The Vees had some good pressure off the get go Saturday but their lack of execution came back to bite them in the rear-end. They had plenty of time in the offensive zone with the puck, got themselves into scoring areas but couldn’t pull the trigger in the end. Far too many times they missed the net, had their shot blocked or just got their wires crossed.
  • I think the real turning point came early in the second period, when the Vees were pressuring the Cents’ for the first handful of minutes of the period. They were buzzing in the Merritt end but couldn’t get that one grade ‘A’ chance to go in. What happens? One miscue in the neutral zone creates a two-on-one for Merritt and James Neil scores to make in 3-0; straw that broke the camels back. The Vees had all the momentum up until that goal and all of a sudden it’s a three-goal hole. If they could have scored early in the second during that sustained sequence, you’re looking at a 2-1 game with thirty-five minutes of hockey left.
  • Credit Luke Pierce’s team, as they played a heavy game for the entire night, pressuring the Vees in their end and always made sure to put a shoulder into someone wearing blue. Their fore-check never let up, as they always seemed to be on the Vees puck carrier and they found a way to swarm the puck in their own zone.
  • Jonah Imoo didn’t have to be spectacular but was technically sound all night making thirty-seven saves for his first shutout as a Centennial. Not to take anything away but the Vees didn’t really test him with a dangerous shot but that’s not his fault, as he stopped what he saw and that’s all you can ask for in a goalie.
  • Looking at the schedule you knew this was going to be a difficult weekend for the Vees with lots of bus time and two tough games in two unique arenas. I thought fatigue crept into the Vees game on Saturday if not so much physically as mentally, which led to a few gaffes that cost them goals. Remember, for a lot of these younger players, it was their first time playing in an environment like Merritt and maybe they were caught off guard. Put it this way, I don’t think will see the same type of performance out of the Vees next time their in Merritt.
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GM #4 Preview: Vees in Merritt

Sep 27



Another night, another road game and another home opener. Tonight schedule takes the Vees to Merritt, where they face the Centennials for the first time this season. The Vees started their two-game weekend swing off on the right foot Friday, taking a 3-1 win in Trail. Tonight it’s another Interior Division match-up as they face the Cents’ who are coming off a big road win of their own Friday. Merritt’s power-play went 3-4 as they dispatched the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 5-2 at the Shaw Centre last night.

Tonight is the first of seven games between the Vees and Cents’. These two meet again in Penticton on October 8th but after that, the next time they play isn’t until November 21st. However, the season series schedule is somewhat front-loaded, as the Vees and Cents play five of the seven games before the Christmas break. To put that into perspective, these two didn’t meet until December 6th last season. For what its worth, the Vees split the three games in Merritt last year posting a 1-1-1 record. They were all one-goal games, with the Vees winning 5-4 on December 6th. These two played to a 1-1 tie on January 3rd and Merritt won another tight affair 2-1 on January 17th.

Vees Notes:

  • By all accounts the Vees will be icing the same line-up as they did Friday in Trail but we will have to wait for official confirmation. I expect we will see Hunter Miska getting the start again between the pipes. Merritt isn’t an easy building to play in and having Miska’s experience will be key just as it was last night.
  • After a so-so start to the season, the trio of Patrick Newell, Cody DePourcq and Demico Hannoun had a solid outing in Trail. Hannoun scored that critical third goal early in the third period to give the Vees some breathing room. That said, I still think those three can do more and tonight might be the night where this line makes a big impression.
  • If you missed my early morning Tweets, Mitch Newsome will be credited with two assists from Friday’s win, which will move him in a tie for the team scoring lead with Tyson Jost. Newsome now has two goals and seven points in three games and four assists in his last two. He doesn’t say a whole heck of a lot but he clearly lets his play do most of the talking.
  • Special teams might be the underlying theme to tonight’s game. The Vees will be facing one of the league’s top three power-plays tonight and the best overall penalty-kill. Since opening night where the Vees at one point were 3-5 on the PP, they’ve gone 0-17 since. Now that stat doesn’t tell the whole story as they’ve had some really good looks on the man-advantage. A power-play goal might go a long way tonight in trying to secure two points.
  • Keep an eye on the line of Newsome, Josh Laframbroise and Steen Cooper. An environment like Merritt might play into their hands perfectly. These three play a simple north-south game and the tighter confines in Merritt could suit these three. Depending on how they play, we might see a steady diet of that line throughout tonight’s game.

Cents’ Notes:

  • The Cents’ will be lifting the curtain on their home schedule tonight and coming off an impressive road win last night, will give Luke Pierce’s club plenty of fuel. There’s some deserving buzz around tonight’s game, as they two teams have had  great rivalry..feud going in the last handful of years. Plus this is the first look at the refurbished Nicola Valley Arena. The old barn has gone under a bit of a face lift with a new scoreclock and an improved heating system.
  • Merritt is a bit of an older team this year and they have some noticeable offensive weapons in their line-up. Diego Cuglietta to me is the heartbeat of this team. He isn’t big but plays a heavy game and is a handful of both ends of the ice. They’ll need more offense out of him this year but he’s a threat every time he steps over the blue-line. New additions to keep tabs on are forwards Michael Ederer and team leading scorer John Schiavo. Ederer came over from the Buffalo Jr. Sabres of the OJHL in the summer and has the talent to be a point per-game guy. Schiavo comes from Long Island, NY and is playing his first season in the BCHL after playing prep hockey on the east coast. He does have an extensive background in roller hockey, just like former Vee John Siemer.
  • One player I noticed that has a more offensive presence to his game in defenseman Jake Clifford. In the exhibition game against the Vees two weeks ago, Clifford continually jumped up in the play or led the rush. In a smaller rink he’ll be that much more of a threat; he’s got three assists in as many games.
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Party Poopers: Vees 3 Trail 1


Photo: Damon James

Photo: Damon James



  • Appropriate that I use a file photo of Hunter Miska for the post-game recap. He was arguably the Vees best player tonight and was a big reason why the Vees came out of Trail with a win. Miska stopped 31 of 32 shots tonight including 23 of 24 over the final two periods; all 11 in the third period. Miska was at his best in the second where he made half a dozen critical stops. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said post-game that he thought the Vees were outplayed in the latter half the second and Miska was the reason why they had a 2-1 lead after 2. Remember, Laframbroise didn’t score that go-ahead marker until at the very end of the period, well nearly, as there was eight seconds left. Trail made a strong push in the second to grab the lead but the Vees puck-stopper said no. Big-time performance by Miska between the pipes.
  • Miska’s best save? There were two in my books. In the second he shut the door on a short-handed breakaway bid by their leading scorer Charlie Zuccarini. Zuccarini tried to go five-hole but Miska swept his legs underneath of himself and kept the puck out. His other eye-popping save came in the third when he stopped Trail’s Craig Martin point-blank from maybe eight feet out. Martin took a pass just off the crease, between the circles but Miska threw out his shoulder. The kid was on his “A” game.
  • Speaking of kids, how sneaky good is Mitch Newsome? The 17-year-old had two assists Friday, though officially they only had him down for one; that will change soon. So with the scoring corrections, Newsome now has two goals and seven points and is tied with Tyson Jost for a share in the team scoring lead. Newsome may have more points than words he has spoken this season but the silent assassin plays such a sound game; he does a lot of little things well.
  • The first period tonight was a bit frantic and a touch sloppy but both teams struggled with the lively boards and soft ice. Yeah, the ice didn’t seem to be in great shape as the puck looked like a tennis ball out there. There was some minor hockey on the ice up until an hour before the game and it’s still fairly warm out but the ice in Trail gave both teams fits. Ice and board conditions aside, I thought the Vees could have had a sharper start to the game then they did. They, like Trail, were guilty of too many defensive zone turnovers. You could tell the newer faces were trying to learn the nuances of Cominco Arena on the fly.
  • I liked the game of Mike Lee on the back-end. Despite the cozier confines, Lee was still at his shifty best, dancing up and down the ice and really helped get the Vees transition game going. Lee had a terrific setup for Jack Ramsey in the first period but the Assistant Captain couldn’t pull the trigger. I also liked Dante Fabbro and Jarod Hilderman on the blue-line. Those two were sneaky good in their own zone tonight and they weren’t noticeable because of how simple they kept things.Throughout the game I kept seeing one of the two make a nice play under pressure and usually in behind the Vees net.
  • The Vees most dangerous line tonight, or one that kept bringing it was Newsome, Laframbroise and Steen Cooper. Cooper and Laframboise bagged goals and the three combined for two goals and five points on the night. The three were put together for a reason, as all three play a very direct north-south brand of hockey. They tend to go through not around the opposition and the trio isn’t shy about rolling up the sleeves and going to work in the corners. On both of Newsome’s assists, he barely held onto the puck and again that isn’t a bad thing. He made quick decisions with the puck, getting it to Cooper and Laframbroise and those quick decisions helped his line-mates get into scoring areas.
  • After a so-so Showcase weekend, the trio of Cody DePourcq, Demico Hannoun and Patrick Newell were pretty darn solid on Friday as well. Hannoun scored in the win but the three more importantly played “In your face” hockey. Expectations are higher for this line, as it’s three veteran players will be counted on to provided a significant level of offense. A good start for those three and hopefully it carries over to Saturday.
  • Critical way to start a tough weekend schedule with a win. The long trip to Trail isn’t lost and now you’re halfway to a four-point weekend for the second straight week. Open the weekend on a loss and the pressure mounts and it sets up for a tough Saturday. Not saying Saturday’s tilt with Merritt will be easy but coming into Merritt after losing would have been that much more difficult. The Vees too got a bit of a taste of what tomorrow will bring with another home opener.


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GM #3 Game Preview: Vees in Trail

Penticton @ Trail 260



Two 2-0 teams go at it tonight in Trail, as the Vees and Smoke Eaters face-off at the old Cominco Arena. Both teams swept their BCHL Showcase schedule, the Vees posting 11-2 and 4-3 wins over Surrey and Alberni Valley. Trail thumped Coquitlam 8-3 and edged Powell River 4-3 in overtime.

Just over a year ago the Vees started their post-showcase schedule with a weekend sweep of the Smokies in Trail. The Friday night they took a convincing 7-1 win and then followed that up with a 5-1 win one night later. It was a big weekend for the Vees but one that can’t be repeated, schedule wise, at least.

There’s plenty of buzz around this Trail squad, results aside, the roster that Nick Deschenes has put together boasts a nice balance of depth and skill. One newcomer everyone is talking about is 20-year-old forward Charlie Zuccarini who scored five goals, yes, five goals and finished with six points in that 8-3 win over Coquitlam. One note to mention about their roster is the solid content of local Kootenay kids and they aren’t compliment pieces either. Craig Martin returns home after an off-season trade from the Bulldogs. Dallas Calvin is on his second tour of duty with the Smokies and is a big body (6’4 220 pounds) that can be a handful in the offensive zone. Returner Jake Lucchini is joined by younger brother Jeremy this year and the younger Lucchini is an undersized but highly skilled defenseman. Even Fred Harbinson said in the Penticton Herald this week that he hasn’t seen a Trail team like this in a few years.

Hunter Miska gets the start in net for the Vees and looks to push his early season record to 2-0. Miska looked solid in his season debut last Saturday against the Bulldogs but you have the feeling that he can kick it up a notch. Gabe Bast, after sitting out Saturday, will be back in the line-up tonight; he was fighting a minor hip-pointer.

Our broadcast gets going around 7:10pm and I say “around” as it’s the Smoke Eaters home opener. Expect a delayed start as I’m sure there will be some pre-game festivities at ice-level.


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Laleggia Earns Pre-Season Accolades

Photo: Rich Clarkson and Associates.

Photo: Rich Clarkson and Associates.

From the BCHL:

Former Penticton Vees standout Joey Laleggia has been named to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) pre-season all-conference team as he heads into his senior year at the University of Denver.

LaLeggia, an Edmonton Oilers draft pick in 2012,  received 19 votes from media members to earn a spot on the team. The Burnaby, B.C. product is the lone other returning First-Team All-NCHC selection along with University of Miami senior forward Austin Czarnik.

The reigning NCHC Defenceman of the Year, Laleggia tied for the NCHC lead among blueliners in 2013-14 with 25 points and had a NCHC-best 12 goals among D-men on the season. His 25 points on the campaign tied with Colorado College rearguard Jacob Slavin for most in the conference last season.

With the Vees, Laleggia piled up 33 goals and 114 assists for 147 points in 114 career games over two full seasons. He was named the 2011 Interior Conference Top Defenceman and MVP.

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Vees Announce Ticket Initiative, “Game-Day” Pricing


Big news today from the Vees, as they have announced a partnership with Peter’s Bros Construction on a new ticket initiative. Starting this year, and running over the next four-seasons, single-game tickets are free for Student (18 & under) and Children (12 & under) courtesy of Peter’s Bros Construction. Children (12 & under) have to be accompanied by an adult to be eligible for free admission.

This partnership has a lot of potential, as this provides a legitimate and safe entertainment option for Penticton’s younger population throughout the year and hopefully turns on the Vees to a younger demographic. In junior hockey teams are always looking for ways to recruit younger fans and hopefully this is a way to build that younger fan base.

A big thank you Mr. Kampe, Mr. Dolighan and Mr. Cuzzocrea over at Peter’s Bros Construction. They have stepped up with a significant investment, which will help provide a positive entertainment option in a safe environment for Penticton’s youth.

Also the team has announced single-game tickets are on sale as of today and prices for adults ($13) and seniors ($11) remain unchanged from last season. However, the team is implementing a new “game-day” ticketing policy. To help alleviate pressure and line-ups, ticket prices will go up $1 for adults and seniors on game day. So, for example, starting today fans can purchase single-game tickets for the Vees home opener on October 3rd, against Salmon Arm at regular prices. However, on Friday, October 3rd, adult tickets will be $14 and seniors will be $12. I am in favour of this move, as the Vees are trying to change the culture when it comes to buying tickets. Fans shouldn’t procrastinate and jeopardize missing the start of the game, half or even a full period, as they wait in line to buy tickets. Save yourself some money and the headache by getting down to the Valley First Box Office EARLY.; it pays to be proactive this season. Don’t leave it to the last-minute people!

Press Release:

The Penticton Vees, in conjunction with Peter’s Bros Construction are pleased to announce a new four-year ticketing partnership.

 For the next four years, starting with this season, admission for single game tickets will be free for students aged 18-years and under courtesy of Peter’s Bros Construction. Admission for children aged 12-years and under will also be free as long as they’re accompanied by an adult. Though tickets are free for students and children, they’re still required to pick-up a game ticket at the Valley First Box Office (at the SOEC) only.

 Vees President, General Manager and Head Coach, Fred Harbinson, says the organization is excited about partnering with such a well-respected company, “For the past 20 years I have worked in many different cities throughout North America and I must say I have never come across a group as generous as Peter’s Bros Construction.  This partnership will create a positive influence on the youth of Penticton and will help create an exciting environment each and every night.”

 Peter’s Bros Construction is a privately owned and operated premier paving contractor in the Okanagan with its head office located in Penticton. While based in the Okanagan, Peter’s Bros Construction performs its quality work throughout the entire province of British Columbia and has been recognized by the Ministry of Highways with the first place award of Excellence in Paving. Peter’s Bros Construction has been a great community partner in Penticton, as they’re a major sponsor of the Peach Festival amongst other community initiatives.

 “Our main goal is to work with the Vees in providing a positive entertainment option in a safe environment for our youth. We’re a big supporter of not only the team but the SOEC as well, so we’re very excited about this new partnership,” states Peter’s Bros Construction spokesperson, Joe Cuzzocrea.

 Single game tickets will be available to the public starting today at 10 a.m. leading up to the Vees home opener Friday, October 3rd, against Salmon Arm. Single game ticket prices remain unchanged from last season, as adults are $13 and seniors are $11; however, to alleviate pressure and long line-ups, the Vees will be implementing new game day walk-up ticket prices. On game days, adult and senior tickets will be raised by one dollar, making adult tickets $14 and senior tickets $12 each. Fans can purchase single game tickets throughout the week leading up to games at the Valley First Box Office for no additional charge. This new policy doesn’t affect season ticket holders.

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Tyson Jost Named BCHL Player of the Week


The British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) announced Tuesday that Vees forward Tyson Jost (98) has been named the BCHL Player of the Week for the week ending September 21st.

Jost, 16, finished with seven points (3-4-7) in two wins over the weekend. The rookie picked up four assists and 3rd star honours in Friday’s 11-2 thumping of the Surrey Eagles. Jost then followed that up with a hat-trick and was named 1st star in Saturday afternoon’s 4-3 win over the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

Jost, along with line-mates Liam Finlay (0-4-4) and Lewis Zerter-Gossage (3-2-5) combined for six goals and 16 points in their first two regular season games.

Scoring corrections made from the weekend will have Jost atop of the BCHL scoring race with seven points, one up on Trail’s Charlie Zuccarini and Victory Dombrovskiy.

It’s a battle of two 2-0 teams Friday, when the Penticton Vees pay a visit to the Trail Smoke Eaters at Cominco Arena. Face-off is 7:30 and the can be heard on EZ Rock AM 800 or fans can watch online at The Vees then head to Merritt the following night for another 7:30pm puck drop.

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