Photos: Dylan Lynch / Hockey Canada
The Penticton Vees are one win away from a national championship, after blanking the Soo Thunderbirds 3-0 in semifinal play at the 2012 RBC Cup Saturday.
The Vees for the first time in the tournament scored first and for the first time took a lead into the first intermission. Wade Murphy scored the only goal of the opening period, which also stood up as the game-winner. Kyle Beaulieu’s point shot bounced through traffic and right to the side of the goal, where Murphy wacked it in at 16:26; his team leading third goal of the RBC Cup.
The Soo Thunderbirds made a strong push at the start of the game, as their aggressive fore-check pressure forced the Vees to make a few adjusts in their own zone. After the initial surge by the T-Birds, the Vees turned up the pressure and outshot Soo 11-8 in the first.
Bryce Gervais and Cody DePourcq highlighted the Vees best scoring chances in a scoreless second. Gervais was stopped by T-Birds netminder John Kleinhans on a breakaway seconds into the middle frame. DePourcq was inches away from scoring his first of the tournament on a shot from in-close. The Penticton native was robbed by the glove of Kleinshans, after walking off the left goal-line. Either side failed to bulge the twine in the second and the Vees still led 1-0 through forty minutes.
The Vees power-play came to life in the third period as they doubled their lead just before the six minute mark. Logan Johnston scored his second of the tournament on a shot from the top of the crease. Travis St. Denis stripped the defenceman of the puck behind the net, before centering to an awaiting Johnston who forced a shot through Kleinhans at 5:55.
Penticton squeezed out any Thunderbirds comeback attempt with a stifling defensive effort the rest of the way. Curtis Loik put the game on ice with an empty-net goal at 18:26 after intercepting a puck at the Vees blue-line. Michael Garteig stopped twenty shots for his first shutout of the tournament and third consecutive win.
Final Score: 3-0 Vees
Shots: 33-20 Vees
Power-Plays: Vees 1/7 T-Birds 0/6
Player of the Game: Vees- Travis St. Denis T-Birds- John Kleinhans
The Vees advance to Sunday’s final against the Woodstock Slammers, who upset the host Humboldt Broncos 4-3 in overtime in the other semifinal. The Vees will play in their third national championship and first since 1986. The Slammers are making their first RBC Cup championship appearance in franchise history.
The game can be seen live on TSN2 and at the South Okanangan Events Centre starting at 4:30pm PDT / 8:30pm EST. The SOEC is showing the game on their jumbotron, free of charge, with the doors opening at 4pm.
- With the shutout, the Vees have only surrendered two goals in their last three games; outscoring their opponents 8-2 in the three wins.
- The Vees surprisingly, scored first for the first time in the tournament in Saturday’s win. Also their 1-0 lead after the opening period was their first lead after the first period in any game at the RBC Cup.
- Mike Garteig is competitive, maybe one the most competitive goaltender I’ve come across. Don’t think John Kleinhans winning the Top Goaltender and MVP award didn’t give him some motivation for today’s game. Garteig was the less busier of the two goaltenders but was sharp when called upon.If you think it’s just the team in front of him, he does have the best save-percentage out of any starting goaltender (.944%).
- The Vees top guns haven’t broken out just yet but they continue to get depth scoring. Logan Johnston and Curtis Loik (empty-net) have goals in back-to-back games. The Vees are in the final despite Luica, Fogarty, St. Denis and Gervais not having a goal. Depth is huge this time of year.
- The penalty-kill continues to be strong for the Vees. Now 29-32 in the tournament which checks in just over 90 percent. Tonight the PK was sharp again and even flirted with a few short-handed opportunities. In saying that, the Vees have to cut down on their penalties, especially in the offensive zone. Those drive coaches crazy.
- This was the best sixty minute performance for the Vees in the tournament. The scary thing? There’s room to be better.
- What a pleasure it was to chat with TSN Hockey Analyst Craig Button. The former Flames GM, does extensive scouting work for TSN and TSN.ca. He knows his junior hockey and was very insightful on the Vees and their season. Guy puts in his time.