GM 17 Preview: Vees vs. Grizz

VEES: GP 16 13-2-0-1 GRIZZLIES: GP 16 10-5-0-1

VEES HOME: 6-0-0* (5-0-0 at SOEC) GRIZZLIES AWAY: 5-4-0-0

LAST GAME

VEES: 4-1 win vs. Warriors GRIZZLIES: 4-2 loss @ Smoke Eaters

NEXT GAME

VEES: November 3rd vs. Chiefs GRIZZLIES: Sunday @ Centennials

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

VEES: Nov 3rd vs. Chiefs

Nov 9th vs. Cents’

Nov 10th @ Chiefs

GRIZZLIES: Sunday @ Cents’

Nov 2nd vs. Caps

Nov 9th @ Warriors

Head-to-Head: The Grizzlies bested the Vees 3-2 in double-overtime on October 12th at Bear Mountain Arena. Myles Fitzgerald scored the winner on a wrap-around in the three-on-three OT period. Both teams exploded for a four-goal first period but held each other in check until the fifth period.

The Setup: Both teams are playing their second game in less than 24 hours tonight. The Vees were 4-1 winners Friday at home over the Warriors, whereas the Grizzlies were doubled-up in Trail 4-2 by the Smoke Eaters. Friday was just the second road game for Victoria in the month of October and they’re still seeking their first win, as they’re 0-2 away from the Bear Mountain Arena; the Grizz lost 6-2 in Powell River on October 6th.

Tonight marks the return of Zach Urban, Mark McLellan and DJ Jones to Penticton for the first time since their trades over the course of last season and the off-season.

The Vees will want some revenge as the Grizz are only one of three teams to have handed the Vees a loss this season and the only team to have beat the Vees in OT.

Vees Beat: The start left something to be desired but the finished left no doubts in the Vees 4-1 victory over the Warriors. The Vees were pressed by the Warriors off the start  and had all sorts of trouble getting out of their own zone. An early timeout by the coaches settle the troops down or gave them a kick in the rear end; either way it seemed to put the Vees on the right track.

Mike Rebry continued his mastery over the Warriors scoring twice, including the first and last goals for the Vees. In four games against the Tribe Rebry has amassed four goals and seven points. Brad McClure also had quite the showing bagging a pair of goals and now has five goals in as many games. Chad Katunar made 32 saves in net for his 10th win and second in as many starts. Oddly, Katunar’s only two losses have come against Island Division opponents. Wade Murphy picked up an assist to extend his BCHL-best point-streak to 14 games.

Tonight the Vees will have to key on their start, as it wasn’t a first period Vees fans are used to seeing from their team but let’s not beat that point to death. The start is key as Victoria is traveling on game day and it’s compounded by an earlier start time than they’re accustomed to. The Grizz might be a little low on the energy level considering they nearly exhausted themselves trying to come from behind against the Smokies. The Grizz threw everything but the kitchen sink at Smokies goalie Lyndon Stanwood, who made 39 saves, including 17 in the third period. The Vees need to pounce on team that might be fighting heavy legs.

Another tidy special-teams performance from the Vees on Friday scoring on their only power-play and shutting out the Warriors on two opportunities with the man-advantage. Tonight might be another key special-teams battle, as the Grizz don’t take a whole heck of a lot of penalties. Whatever the Vees do get when it comes to power-play opportunities they have to make the most of.

The Vees may have a legitimate 1-A line in Brad McClure, Louie Nanne and Ryan Gropp. The three had instant chemistry last night, as each finished with two points. This development means teams can’t just key on Mike Rebry, Wade Murphy and Sam Mellor. Teams will have challenges with their matchups and who they want out against which Vees line.

The Other Guys:  Maybe the good-feel story of the BCHL season to date is the revitalized Victoria Grizzlies. New ownership, new coaching staff, and a new identity have resulted in a lot of positives on and off the ice. A retooled roster has the Grizzlies sitting in first place in the Island Division, four points clear of second place Alberni Valley; a team that’s lost five straight.

The Grizz are lead upfront by the Fitzgerald triplets, as Myles, Gerry and Leo sit one-two-three in team scoring. The triplets are like the Sedins, in the sense they have that heighten awareness where each other are at any time on the ice.  They’re not the biggest in stature but as the saying goes, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” The three play hard-nosed hockey and don’t shy away from the corner or the front of the net.

The scoring upfront does drop off dramatically once you move past the triplets. The next closet forward after the Fitzgerald’s is Myles Powell who has five goals and six points; six points behind the lowest scoring Fitzgerald. Actually the Grizzlies are getting more production from their blue-line than anywhere else. Take out the triplets and three out of the next five in team scoring are defensemen. Nolan De Jong and DJ Jones have 12 points and Blake Thompson has six; more points than 9 forwards. The key for the Vees is to keep the triplets at bay and force Victoria to try and create offense from their secondary scoring.

One area the Grizz have plenty of depth in is goal. Michael Stiliadis has been quite the revelation since coming over from the OJHL in an off-season trade. Stiliadis has played so well in fact, that he’s been a late addition to Canada West’s Selection Camp roster. His numbers don’t jump out at you but by all accounts he’s been the real deal in goal for the Grizzlies. Closely behind Stiliadis is Brady Rouleau who picked up the win against the Vees back on October 12th. Rouleau was fantastic in the win, which included stopping Mike Rebry on a penalty-shot in double-overtime. Rouleau did play last night and as I write this preview, it hasn’t been confirmed who will start in goal; either or the Vees will be faced with a challenge.

BROADCAST

  • Listen to the game on EZ ROCK AM 800, starting 20 minutes prior to puck drop, with Al Formo and myself.
  • Watch and listen online through the BCHL’s PPV provider Fasthockey.
  • Follow the game with the BCHL boxscore
  • Follow the Vees and Grizzlies Twitter accounts throughout the game.

 

 

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About CBeauchemin

Director of Broadcasting & Communication for the Penticton Vees
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