GM 32 Preview: Vees Visit to the “Cable Box” in Salmon Arm

Dec 12

Venue: Shaw Centre

Game Time: 7pm

Listen: EZ Rock AM 800

Watch: www.fasthockey.com

Season Series: Oct 3rd 5-1 Vees, Oct 4th 4-3 (OT) Vees, Oct 26th 3-1 Vees, Dec 12th at SA, Jan 3rd at SA, Jan 28th at PEN, Feb 28th at PEN.

Vees Road Record: 13-2-0-1

Vees Record vs. Interior Division: 15-3-0-0

Vees Leading Scorer: Riley Alferd 17-17-34

 Silverbacks Home Record: 5-7-1-2

Silverbacks Record vs. Interior Division: 6-8-1-3

Silverbacks Leading Scorer: Andrew Farny 7-24-31

 The Show Must Go On: Tonight the Vees start a five-game stretch in which they’ll be missing four players due to the 2014 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge starting this weekend in Saskatchewan. The Vees will be without defensemen Gabe Bast and Dante Fabbro, along with forwards, Demico Hannoun and Tyson Jost.

No doubt a challenge missing that many regulars and key contributors at that, but the coaching staff will quickly shoot down any excuses about who isn’t playing.

The Vees have signed 20-year-old defenseman Shayne Gwinner to help fill the void on the blue-line (more on that signing here). To help fill a spot upfront, the Vees have called up Sam Binfet from the Okanagan Rockets. Binfet, 17, has nine goals and 19 points in 22 games with the OK Rockets of the BCMML.

Mile Gendron may be disappointed not making Team Canada West but it is a silver lining for the Vees, as they get a key contributor back on their blue-line. Gendron has been playing his best hockey to date, as he’s picked up seven points in his last eight games. He’ll be counted on to chew up some minutes for the Vees and in all situations. He’ll have a bit of a chip on his shoulder and that can be a good thing.

Though they’re missing two-thirds of their top line, there still is plenty of fire power left in the Vees line-up this weekend. Leading scorer Riley Alferd (17-17-34) will have to lead the way offensively but has support in line-mates Jack Ramsey (10-15-25) and Lewis Zerter-Gossage (11-16-27). Don’t forget about the two new guys in Dakota Conroy (4-2-6) and Connor Chartier (2-5-7), who’ve looked dangerous paired with Cody DePourcq (7-6-13). There’s more than enough offense there to get the job done.

Renewing Acquaintances: It’s been six and a half weeks since the Vees and Silverbacks last met. It was back on Sunday, October 26th, in Salmon Arm, a 3-1 decision in favour of the Vees; a game with some significance attached to it. First, that marked the Vees 10th straight victory at the time, as they ended October with a 12-0-0 record. Secondly, in that game Patrick Newell picked up a goal, kicking-off his BCHL best 15-game point streak. Newell has had only one pointless game since, as he has points in 17 of his last 18 games.

The Vees have compiled a 12-3-0-1 record since they last played the Silverbacks and are 26 points ahead of Salmon Arm in the standings.

The Silverbacks have had their ups and downs in the last six weeks and find themselves just two points up on Trail for fifth in the Interior. After pulling out of a four-game losing streak, the Silverbacks rattled off a three-game undefeated run in early November, beating Cowichan Valley and tying and beating Vernon in a home-and-home set. However, things went sideways in the middle of the month, as the ‘Backs fell into a six-game winless slump from November 15th-28th, which saw them collect just two points from a tie and overtime setback. They’ve split their last four games, losing their two most recent after picking up back-to-back wins over West Kelowna and Merritt. The Silverbacks have put together a 4-7-2-3 record since last playing Penticton.

After tonight, these two don’t meet again until early in the New Year, Saturday, January 3rd, when the Vees make their final visit to the Shaw Centre. After that, it’s two games in Penticton on January 28th and February 28th to close out the season series.

Rude House Guests: The Vees come into Friday’s matchup with the best road record in the BCHL at 13-2-0-1 and are 2-0-0 at the Shaw Centre this season. Salmon Arm has struggled at home, owning a 5-7-1-2 record at the “Cable Box.” The Silverbacks have the second fewest home wins in the BCHL, as the Mainland Division’s Surrey Eagles are the only other team with fewer wins on home ice (4).

The ‘Backs have lost their last five home games, going 0-4-1-0 over that stretch and on average, have surrendered 5.2 goals per-game to the opposition over that span. Including the empty-net goal, the ‘Backs gave up five goals Wednesday to Chilliwack and seven goals in each of the two games before that to West Kelowna and Vernon. Their last home win was on November 14th, a 5-2 triumph over Cowichan Valley.

Don’t let the numbers fool you, the last two times the Vees were in Salmon Arm, they had to claw and scratch their way to wins. On October 26th they had a 2-0 third period lead before Colton Thibault made things interesting midway through the final frame. The Vees needed an empty-net goal to final dispose of the pesky Apes.

The visit prior, on October 4th, the two teams needed double-overtime to decide things. Demico Hannoun was taken down in double-overtime which resulted in an automatic penalty-shot under BCHL rules. Hannoun scored and the Vees took home a hard-fought 4-3 win. The Vees actually trailed late in that game and Lewis Zerter-Gossage force  overtime with a  third period goal.

Bottom line, the ‘Backs will be eager to put the home ice losing streak behind them.

Carrying the Mail: As mentioned earlier, the Vees will be short-staffed and are going to need a few players to step up and fill the void left by the departures of the four Vees off at the WJAC. And as I mentioned earlier, I believe they have more than enough to fill the holes.

One guy I look to is Patrick Newell, who’s playing his best hockey of the season. Newell will be missing his regular line-mates in Jost and Hannoun but has points in 17 of his last 18 games and has been held off the scoresheet just once since October 26th. Newell is a crafty enough that he should be able to adapt with new line-mates without sacrificing any of his offensive creativity.

A trio that I circle with red ink is Cody DePourcq and his wingers Dakota Conroy and Connor Chartier. Conroy and Chartier have been held pointless in their last two games and DePourcq has just one goal in his last five games. However, the numbers don’t tell the whole story, as the three have been threats offensively in recent games and you have that feeling they’re right on the cusp of breaking out.

Can’t talk about offense without mentioning Riley Alferd and the season he’s having. Alferd leads the team in scoring and will even get more of the spotlight (and extra attention from the opposition), now that two top-six forwards are absent. Alferd seems to relish the pressure situations and he loves playing the Silverbacks, especially in Salmon Arm, where he has three goals in two games.

The 4-1-1 on the Opposition: The Vees will see a familiar face line-up across from them tonight, as Silverbacks forward Josh Laframboise faces his former team since being traded. Laframboise is starting to fit into his new surroundings quite nicely. He had just one assist in his first five games in silver and black, but has since scored four goals in his last five.

Cole McCaskill is also back, as the slick, puck-moving defenseman missed the first three games against the Vees, as he was recovering from a long-term injury. McCaskill and his teammate Andrew Farny (7-24-31) are two defensemen the Vees will have to keep tabs on tonight. Farny leads the team in scoring and is a gifted skater and puck handler; he can start and finish the rush. McCaskill’s numbers don’t reflect his skill level, as he’s like Farny, in the sense he can make things happen from the blue-line.

Three that have played well against Penticton but their numbers don’t reflect are Carson Bolduc, Shane Danyluk and Bryden Marsh. Bolduc is tied for the team lead in goals (10) and is tied for third in team scoring with Danyluk (21 points). Marsh can score, as he does have seven goals but he’s better known for his size and fore-checking prowess. When he has it going, the opposition better be on notice; bull in a china shop.

Have to mention Taro Hirose when talking about the ‘Backs offense. The 18-year-old rookie from the Edge Hockey Academy is as elusive as they get. Hirose has 10 goals and 30 points in 30 games and is a pure playmaker. Hirose is hard to track down in open ice and a player who seems to be always on the verge of making something happen. The Vees will have to take away his time and space to neutralize his skill set.

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Teddy Bear Toss Sunday

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Vees “Fab Four” at WJAC

WJAC_Fab 4_action

Harbinson on WJAC Roster

The Penticton Vees Jr. ‘A’ Hockey Club is pleased to announce four players have been named to the Team Canada West roster for upcoming World Junior ‘A’ Challenge (WJAC).  Defensemen, Gabe Bast (96) and Dante Fabbro (98), along with forwards, Demico Hannoun (95) and Tyson Jost (98), will wear the maple leaf for Canada West.

President, General Manager and Head Coach Fred Harbinson “Going into the camp, all five, including Miles Gendron who didn’t make the final roster, had been playing extremely well. Losing four is a difficult situation for our team in the meantime, but we understand it’s a great opportunity for them. In saying that, when players return from the tournament, they usually come back even better players then they were to start.”

Rookie blue-liner, Gabe Bast, is making his international hockey debut at the WJAC.  The Red Deer, Alberta native is the seventh highest scoring defenseman in the BCHL with three goals and 22 points in 30 games; he’s tied for the team lead in assists.

Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro are the two youngest players to make Team Canada West and the first 16-year-olds to crack the roster since St. Louis Blues forward Jayden Schwartz did in 2008. Jost and Fabbro have already worn the Hockey Canada jersey this season as they played at the 2014 World Under 17 Challenge in Sarnia, Ontario in November.  Jost is fifth in team scoring with 11 goals and 25 points in 24 games. Fabbro has 18 points in 22 games and is tied for the fourth most assists on the Vees.

Demico Hannoun is one of five returning players from last year’s bronze medal winning Canada West squad in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Hannoun is second in team scoring with 16 goals and 28 points in 30 games; Hannoun leads the Vees in power-play goals with nine.

With the four Vees selected to this year’s Canada West team, the Vees have had 23 players play for Canada West since the inception of the tournament in 2006. Including Team USA representation, the Vees have had 26 players play at the event.

Canada West is in Group B with Russia and newcomers Denmark. The 2014 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge runs December 14th-20th in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. All preliminary round games, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the bronze medal game can be viewed on www.Fasthockey.com free of charge. The gold medal game will be broadcasted on TSN.

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Vees Back in Top Three in CJHL Rankings

image

From the CJHL:

 Many of the CJHL’s best players are now competing in Toronto and Calgary in hopes of making the rosters of Team Canada East and Team Canada West for the upcoming World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Kindersley, Saskatchewan. This prestigious tournament opens on December 14, but there is no break for the rest of the CJHL leagues and teams, as the regular season continues to march on.

The Penticton Vees continue to roll along in the BCHL, while the Chilliwack Chiefs and Vernon Vipers are also starting to pay wel themselves in a very close and competitive league. In Alberta, the Camrose Kodiaks, Spruce Grove Saints, Brooks Bandits, and by virtue of an 8-game winning streak, the Okotoks Oilers, are starting to separate themselves from the pack in the AJHL.

In Saskatchewan, the Kindersley Klippers remain in front of the Melfort Mustangs, and the Nipawin Hawks have heated up as of late as well.  The Portage Terriers ran into a small speed bump with the OCN Blizzard this past week, and lost a game in regulation for the first time since October 22!

The Winnipeg Blues are only one point behind the Winkler Flyers for second place overall in the MJHL, but the Blues have two games in hand over the Flyers. The Fort Frances Lakers have a one point lead and a game in hand over the Thunder Bay North Stars in the SIJHL.

In the NOJHL, the Soo Thunderbirds have remained within a single point of the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners, but still have two games in hand. The Elliot Lake Wildcats have just had a five-game winning streak snapped, but the Wildcats and the Cochrane Crunch are closing in the two NOJHL leaders.

The Aurora Tigers of the OJHL have a solid lead for first place overall, but the Georgetown Raiders and Cobourg Cougars are pushing hard to make it a serious race in the OJHL. The Carleton Place Canadians and the Ottawa Jr. ‘A’ Senators continue to dominate the CCHL, with the Cornwall Colts starting to find their own consistent winning form.

The Titan de Princeville are holding on to the top spot in the standings of the LHJQ, while in the MHL, the Woodstock Slammers remain atop the overall standings, and the Pictou County Weeks Crushers have also found a way to win consistently of late, as they have a hold on top spot in the Eastlink Division.

Top 20 Rankings

1. Portage Terriers (MJHL) (1)
2. Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL) (5)
3. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (6)
4. Woodstock Slammers (MHL) (2)
5. Aurora Tigers (OJHL) (4)
6. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (3)
7. Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (7)
8. Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) (8)
9. Kindersley Klippers (SJHL) (9)
10. Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (10)
11. Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) (13)
12. Kirkland Lake Gold Miners (NOJHL)
13. Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL) (16)
14. Georgetown Raiders (OJHL) (HM)
15. Ottawa Jr. ‘A’ Senators (CCHL) (15)
16. Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) (HM)
17. Winnipeg Blues (MJHL) (HM)
18. Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL) (HM)
19  Les Titan de Princeville (LHJQ) (19)
20. Pictou County Weeks Crushers (MHL) (NR)          

Honourable Mention: Vernon Vipers (BCHL), Nipawin Hawks (SJHL), Winkler Flyers (MJHL), Elliot Lake Wildcats (NOJHL), Cobourg Cougars (OJHL)

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Post-Game #31: Vees Stymie Kings, Win Third Straight

Game Recap Dec 6

GAME RECAP 

BOXSCORE 

  • Saturday’s game is what coaches love. A game in which they lay out a particular game plan based on pre-scouting the opponent and then the players go out and execute the particulars. That’s what we saw at the SOEC, as two well-coached, organized teams went head-to-head. When you get a match-up like Saturday, the game can turn into a chess match and in the end it’s about execution and managing your mistakes. The Vees capitalized on opportunities that they were given and they gave up very little, if anything, to the Kings.
  • The Vees foot speed has been well documented but the Kings can skate too and the game had a great pace to it. Little east-west movement, as these two teams went up and down the ice and in a hurry. No, there wasn’t much physical play on both sides but they didn’t waste time getting the puck from one end to the other. Very few whistles in the first period and this game had a completely different feel than Friday’s contest with Vernon and for obvious reasons. I will say this, Kurt Keats of Powell River can motor. That kid’s wheels are impressive as he only needs to take a few strides  before he’s gone. I would put him up near the top of the BCHL for fastest skaters.
  • Scoring chances didn’t come by the truck load Saturday and you got that sense of urgency from the Vees because of that. Nice extended shift in the Powell River zone that led to the opening goal of the game. The Vees power-play ended but that unit stayed out and kept the puck in the Kings end. The Vees did a good job of working the puck around down low before the puck came to Gabe Bast. Smart move by the defenseman to creep in from the point, as the Kings attention was focused on the Vees forwards below the circles. Bast took the pass from Jack Ramsey and wired a quick shot post and in. That was Bast’s first goal since November 7th, a stretch of 11 games. Funny, because his goal was eerily similar to his last goal on November 7th. That was in Victoria and Bast did the same thing he did Saturday. Sensed a soft spot in coverage, crept in from the blue-line and one-timed a pass from the corner. Kid’s got a good hockey IQ.
  • Off the top of my head I can’t remember the last time the Vees limited their opponent to a single shot on goal in a period. The Vees outshot Powell River 8-1 in the first period. Yup, 8-1. The shot on net wasn’t a scoring chance. Now, the Kings attempted quite a few shots, especially from the blue-line on their two first period power-plays. Give the Vees PK’ers a lot of credit as they got in the way of the puck quite a few times. Jack Ramsey I think led the way in blocked shots, as he got his limbs in front of a handful of Kings shot attempts. When I was watching his performance, and the rest of the Vees PK’ers, I thought of  that scene from Happy Gilmore, when Adam Sandler gets into the batting cage, to toughen up for the upcoming hockey season. The clip, if you want to see my reference, is here (warning there is one curse word in the scene).
  • Prior to the game, I sent out a Tweet Saturday pointing out that nine Team Canada West camp invitees were on the two teams last night. Funny how three of the Vees five invitees scored and four of the five got points in the win. Gabe Bast, Tyson Jost and Miles Gendron all scored and Demico Hannoun picked up an assist. The five Vees drove to Kelowna last night and flew out this morning to Calgary for the three-day camp. 65 players are vying for 22 spots on Team Canada West for the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, which runs December 14-20 in Kindersley, Saskatchewan.
  • I mentioned something about the Vees capitalizing on the opportunities they were given and that’s exactly what they did on their second goal. Kings were slow to make a change as the Vees were coming back into the Powell River zone. Hannoun made a nice play on the boards to force the puck down low to Patrick Newell. Great vision by Newell to quickly spin a pass out of the corner, across the zone and right on the tape of a wide open Jost. Jost didn’t waste any time, as he rifled a one-timer off the Kings goalie’s arm and off the post and in. The sheer force of that shot got that puck to go in the net. An instance were the Vees capitalized on a rear mistake by the Kings. Another move on the chess board if you will.
  • I talked about Miles Gendron scoring the third goal and it was a nice two-on-one rush between he and Jost. Gendron though is playing some outstanding hockey in the last few weeks and is going to the Team Canada West camp at the top of his game. Everyone knows about his phenomenal skating ability but the strides (ah, see what I did there?) he has made in his defensive game have been noticeable. He’s very good in front of his own net, as he seems to always be in the right spot, angling off forwards or using his stick to pry the puck free. On his goal that made it 3-0 and sealed the win, Gendron makes a great defensive play before the two-on-one rush developed. As Keats was coming around the net and up the boards, Gendron raced over and tracked him down and threw a shoulder into Keats to rub him out on the boards. Keats coughed up the puck and Gendron and Jost were off to the races against a tired Kings power-play unit. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Gendron return from that Canada West camp next week.
  • Hey! Brendan Barry is 9-0-0. Yeah, that’s good eh? No, his workload wasn’t taxing but there were times when he had to make some quality saves. In particular, there was a nice sequence by him in the second period when the Kings were on the power-play. Barry came across to get his blocker on a Jarid Lukosevicius one-timer and then he got his arm on an in-close opportunity right on the doorstep. I want to say that was on Kurt Keats.  Also, in the third period Barry made a point-blank save off of JJ Coleshaw with his right leg. Coleshaw was standing literally right on top of the crease, his toes in the blue and Barry had to lunge out with his leg to make the stop. When I watched the video, I don’t think Barry did in fact go down too early on the lone Kings goal. Jacob Pritchard just made one heckuva shot up high on the short side; through the eye of the needle. Pritchard had barely an opening but got it up and over Barry’s shoulder. Unfortunate not to get back-to-back shutout wins but Barry’s last two wins are against Langley and Powell River; those ain’t layups.
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GM #31 Preview: Vees Host Kings, Weekend Sweep?

Dec 6

Venue: SOEC

Game Time: 6pm

Listen: EZ Rock AM 800

Watch: www.fasthockey.com

 

Season Series: Dec 6th at Penticton, Feb 7th at Powell River

Vees Home Record: 12-2-0-0

Vees Record vs. Island Division: 4-1-0-1

Vees Leading Scorer: Riley Alferd 17-17-34

 

Kings Road Record: 4-4-0-5

Kings vs. Interior Division: 1-2-0-1

Kings Leading Scorer: Jarid Lukosevicius 14-25-39

 

  • Another three game week comes to a close for the Vees tonight. Tonight’s contest with the Kings is the Vees third in the last four days and this is the fourth time they’ll be doing it this season. The Kings are in the middle of a “three-in-three” road trip through the Mainland-Interior Division. The Kings head to the West Kootenays tomorrow with 3pm tilt against Trail. Of note, the Vees are 7-1-0-1 when they play three in four. As Kings broadcaster Alex Rawnsley pointed out, they’re 0-3 thus far in the middle game of three game weekends.
  • Both teams were involved with Teddy Bear Toss games last night. The Vees went down 1-0 early in Vernon but scored three unanswered to go up 3-1 in the second, before taking a 4-3 win over the Vipers. The Kings battled the Surrey Eagles in a back-and-forth affair in Surrey. The Kings did have a 3-2 lead late in the third but the Eagles tied it with 13 seconds left, then won in overtime on a power-play. That win snapped the Eagles 16-game losing skid and handed the Kings their second straight overtime setback.
  • Speaking of OT, the Kings have gone past regulation in 10 of their 27 games this year; they’re tied with West-K for the most overtime games. Overtime hasn’t been kind to the Kings, as they’re just 3-7-0 in the extra frame. Their only visit to the SOEC last year ended in OT too, as the Vees rallied for a 4-3 win after being down 3-1 in the final minute..AND the Kings have gone past regulation in three of their last five games. I guess what I’m trying to point out is expect a close, one-goal game tonight.
  • Lots of Canadian flavour to tonight’s game. Between the two teams, nine players have been selected for the Canada West camp for the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge. Five Vees (Gabe Bast, Dante Fabbro, Miles Gendron, Tyson Jost and Demico Hannoun) and four Kings (Stefan Wornig, Carmine Buono, Jarid Lukosevicius and Kurt Keats) will head to Calgary tomorrow. The camp runs December 7-9.
  • The Vees will have to find a way to shut down the top line of Powell River. Jacob Pritchard, Kurt Keats and Jarid Lukosevicius have combined for 50 of the Kings 95 goals. That accounts for 53 percent of their goal scoring. Lukosevicius leads the team in scoring with 39 points and is closely followed by Kurt Keats and his 37. Pritchard has 32 points to round out the top three. After that the Kings scoring drops off, somewhat, as fourth in team scoring is Stephen Hiff, who is nine points back of Pritchard. If the Vees are going to have any success, they’ll need to keep the big three off the scoresheet and force the Kings to try to manufacture offense from elsewhere.
  • What line or lines will draw the assignment of going against the top unit of Powell River? I could see Riley Alferd, Jack Ramsey and Lewis Zerter-Gossage matching up with them. Hey, even the trio of Cam Amantea, Steen Cooper and Mitch Newsome might be given the task. The Vees have the advantage with being the home team and drawing the last change and that will be critical in the match up game.
  • Brendan Barry gets the nod between the pipes. The 17-year-old rookie is 8-0-0 on the year and owns an impressive .925 save-percentage. Barry picked up his second career shutout in Langley last Friday in the Vees 6-0 win over the Rivermen. That will be he only change to the Vees line-up tonight, as the go with the same 18 skaters as they did last night.
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Post-Game #30: Dodging Furry Toys & Hat-tricks

Game Recap Dec 5

GAME RECAP 

BOXSCORE 

    • Friday’s start wasn’t what the Vees envisioned but true to form, the Vees righted the ship in the second period and then survived a late scare, to win again in Vernon. Friday’s 4-3 win is the Vees fourth against Vernon already this season and third at Kal-Tire Place, as they swept the three-game portion of the season series that was in Vernon. Now the season series shifts to Penticton for the final three games, when it resumes after the Christmas break on January 2nd.
    • Similar to their last visit to Vernon, as the Vees went down early but found a way to turn it around in the second half of the game. Including Friday’s results, the Vees have now outscored the Vipers 10-4 in the final two periods combined this season. The starts against Vernon necessarily haven’t been on point but the Vees seem to find their game in the second and third periods in this season series.
    • It was a tough start to the game Friday, as despite stringing together a solid opening five-minutes the Vees found themselves down 1-0 six-minutes in. Thomas Aldworth was a handful on Friday, scoring three times, including the Teddy Bear Toss goal. The furry toys starting flying at 6:23 when Aldworth finished-off a scrambling sequence in the Vees zone. It was a case of follow the bouncing puck, as Aldworth was standing in the right place, at the right time to receive the puck off the crossbar and he fired it right back at the Vees net. There was three Vipers shots in short succession before the third finally went it. Aldworth brought the puck in and his shot was kicked-out by Hunter Miska. That rebound went right out to TJ Dumonceaux who fired his shot off the crossbar. THAT rebound then shot over to Aldworth who finally put it in on the near-side; Miska was late coming over as he was searching for the puck. Tough break for the Vees, as they just had a great sequence in the offensive zone before the Vipers brought it back the other way for a 3-on-2 rush. Video of the goal below.
  • What was key for me in turning around the game in the Vees favour? Their penalty-kill right after the Vipers goal. Twenty-seconds after the Vipers went up 1-0, they were given a power-play after Cody DePourcq was called for holding. The penalty-kill came up with a big performance, as the Vipers failed to double their lead and that PK gave the Vees a confidence boost
  • If that PK was the turning point, Patrick Newell’s late first period goal was a 1-A. Smart by Newell to get his stick out on the fore-check to disrupt the D-to-D pass by the Vipers Mitch Oliver. Oliver dangerously attempted to throw the puck back across the front of his net and the result was what you would imagine. Newell knocked down the pass and then quickly stuffed the puck underneath a startled Jarrod Schamerhorn. The puck barely crossed the goal-line but credit the referee as he was right there, right on top of the net, to emphatically signal a goal. If there wasn’t a two-man referee system there’s no way that tying goal would have been seen.
  • Jarod Hilderman, goalless in his last 41 games dating back to January 24th of last season, rifled the puck off the post in the 2nd. Close man, close.
  • Lots to like from the Vees second period performance, as they spent a lot of time in the Vernon end and scored twice in just under a minute and a half. Patrick Sexton made a heckuva play at the offensive blue-line. Sexton knocked down a clearing attempt with his left skate, then fired a dart across the ice to Mitch Newsome in the right-circle. Newsome didn’t get his ‘A’ shot off but got enough on it, forcing it through Schamerhorn on the blocker-side. Must have felt nice for that Vees line to scored the go-ahead goal after being on the ice for the opening goal of the game. Overall, Newsome, Cam Amantea and Steen Cooper played really well in an energy role for the Vees.
  • A few shifts later the Vees followed that goal up with another, as Cody DePourcq, playing in his 200th career game, scored to make it 3-1. Dante Fabbro deserves a big pat on the back for the Vees third goal. Fabbro grabbed the puck in the centre circle, played give-and-go with Jack Ramsey at the offensive blue-line and worked his way down to the Vipers goal-line on the left-wing. Fabbro showed great vision and poise by slamming the breaks on and finding DePourcq at the far-post for the one-timer. Fabbro had to spin back to the puck after colliding with Vernon’s Luke Shiplo in the circle. A lot of the time, a player in that circumstance would blindly fire the puck back on net and scurry back to their position at the point. Fabbro spun back to the puck, jammed on the breaks and took the time to look for an open teammate. A nice hard pass on the tape of DePourcq who slammed the puck five-hole. When he scores, the Vees are 13-1-0-0 on the season.
  • Things were humming along for the Vees in that second period until another late, undisciplined offensive zone penalty. The Vipers didn’t have much going, down 3-1 and there wasn’t a whole lot of life in the building before the power-play. Credit Vernon for taking advantage of the opportunity, as Thomas Aldworth scored his second of the game with one-minute left in the second. Vernon quickly regrouped the puck at centre and Aldworth darted back into the Vees zone on the left-wing. His innocent looking shot from the circle eluded Hunter Miska and slipped through his legs. I was told after the game that the shot actually took a deflection off a Vees defenseman and that’s what fooled Miska; tough break.
  • A bit frustrating from the Vees perspective, as they were cruising right along, up two, late in the middle frame but they gave Vernon a lifeline. The biggest question going forward was how were the Vees going to respond in the third? Answer: quite well. Yes, a bad goal to give up but the most important thing was the Vees went out and got the next goal to seize the momentum. It could have been disastrous if the Vipers were the ones to score first in the third period but the Vees and particularly, Lewis Zerter-Gossage didn’t allow that to happen.
  • The Vipers caught a break with a fortunate bounce on their first goal in the first period and you could argue the same for the Vees on their fourth. Patrick Sexton’s intended pass for Jack Ramsey at the blue-line took a funny hop off the glass and it jumped out into the Vernon slot. Zerter-Gossage was first to the tumbling puck and had just enough time to settle it down and rip a shot over the glove of Schamerhorn. That not only restored a two-goal lead for the Vees but snapped LZG’s nine-game goalless drought. That was his first goal since November 8th against Nanaimo. Zerter-Gossage’s confidence had taken a bit of a hit recently but he kept with it and finally got back on the scoresheet Friday. What do struggling players do to help kick-start their game? Play well away from the puck. First take care of your own end of the ice and good things will happen at the other end. Zerter-Gossage had moved on a line with Ramsey and Riley Alferd and has been very defensively responsible the last few games. Nice to see that dedication pay off on Friday. Zerter-Gossage had a goal and two points and was named the game’s 2nd star. He was very good away from the puck, was physically involved and scored the game-winning goal. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said on the post-game show the coaches had been pleading with LZG to shoot the puck more and hopefully his goal Friday hammers home the message.
  •  Did the Vees dominate? At times sure but for the most part no. Did they play well enough to win? Yep. Were they the better team at managing their mistakes? Yes. I think that’s the biggest take away from Friday’s game. Heading into the contest, you had the feeling, with two good teams going head-to-head, the team that was going to make the least amount of mistakes in their own end was going to come out on top. Yes, that sounds very cliché but it turned out to be the deciding factor. The Vees were pretty sound in their own end, they didn’t turn over many pucks nor did they give a lot for the Vipers to work with; they were kept to the outside for the most part. The Vees found a way to curb the Vipers offense against players not named Aldworth.
  • Another challenge awaits the Vees on Saturday, as they host the Powell River Kings at the SOEC. The Kings has won five of their last seven but are coming off of back-to-back overtime losses, including last night’s stunning 4-3 win by the Surrey Eagles. The Kings were already a motivated group coming into tonight’s action and now they’ll have that much more juice after that tough loss.
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