Sometimes you have to win ugly. Well at least work you way through your problems. The Vees finished strong en route to a 4-1 victory over the Warriors on Friday. Their fourth win against the Tribe this season and third in a row. The Vees now have 13 wins in 16 games have a seven point cushion atop of the Interior Division standings.
I say win ugly as it wasn’t the best of starts from the Vees in the first period. For what ever reason, the team had considerable issues getting the puck out of their zone in the opening minutes. On a few occasions the Warriors had the Vees hemmed in their zone and for a lengthy period of time. The less than stellar start resulted in the Vees burning their timeout early on to regroup and it worked. The Vees simply weren’t hard on pucks along the boards and were making soft plays when the had a chance to get it of the zone. That was addressed and the Vees got better as the game progressed.
The Warriors had a handful of quality looks at the net in the first five minutes but were plagued by missed shots and poor execution in scoring areas. They would do a good job of working the puck into a shooting area but then would put the puck over or just wide of the net. Some chances were right on the Vees doorstep but Warriors shooters simply struggled. West Kelowna is probably having the “what if” scenarios run through their head on the bus after this one. Early the Tribe’s top-line of Seb Lloyd, David Pope and Marcus Basara were causing the Vees fits but seemed to peter-out as the game progressed. The Warriors made changes as the line was broken up for the majority of the second and third.
A line that had some chemistry going on Friday was Ryan Gropp, Louie Nanne and Brad McClure. The three finished with two goals and six points between each other; McClure scoring the goals. The trio teamed up for a beautiful goal in the third period. The play started at center with Nanne shoveling a pass to Gropp, who then in turn made a back-hand saucer pass to McClure in the slot. McClure finished the play off by going bar-down on Tyler Briggs, for his second of the game. McClure scored his eighth and ninth goals tonight, the second prettier than the first but it’s the first goal that the coaches will rave about. During practice the Vees have been working on net drives and McClure’s first was just that. After a shot from Nanne squeaked through Briggs, McClure B-lined it for the goal, crashing into the net but not before stuffing it in. Coaches always stress the importance of going to the net and capitalizing on secondary opportunities. A 16 year-old, an 18 year-old and a 19 year-old teaming up for a big night.
Good to see Nanne have a strong game coming back from another absence. Nanne has had a tough go in the last few weeks but you wouldn’t of known it by the way he plays and conducts himself off the ice. After missing three games with an upper-body injury, Nanne comes back into the line-up and picks up two assists. The Minnesota product as 13 points in 11 games. If he can stay healthy, Nanne is going to go off on a tear.
Not to be overlooked, Mike Rebry picked up his team leading 12th and 13th goals on Friday; also a BCHL best. Rebry scored the first and last Vees goals, his second on the Vees only power-play. His first goal showed some great hustle and determination, as Rebry pounced on a rolling puck in the crease and shoveled in past Briggs. Rebry is a pretty well-rounded player and that once again showed tonight, as he was making plays at both ends of the ice.
Even without his helmet, Chad Katunar is still trying to make the save. Katunar was spot-on again on Friday, and now has only allowed three goals in his last two games and has stopped 63 of the last 66 shots he faced, going back to Salmon Arm last Friday. That’s a .955 save-percentage if you’re scoring at home. Katunar made two beauty saves in the first period on a bang-bang play in front of the net and his rebound control was very good all night. Katunar, for the second straight game, had a shutout bid spoiled in the final moments. Last Friday it was off a fluke bounce and tonight a defensive zone miscue in front of him. Katunar was that close of posting back-to-back shutouts. Next time.
Wade Murphy seems to find a way to make an impact on the score-sheet. His assist on the opening goal gives him points in 14 straight games, which is a BCHL best. Tonight was maybe one of his quieter games recently but he was in the mix time and again.
- The Vees are now 7-0-0 when leading after the first and 9-0-0 when ahead after forty minutes.
- That extra gear proves to be a difference yet again. The Vees were better as the game wore on and maybe had the advantage over a short-staffed Warriors squad.
- Brad McClure scored two goals in front of his mom tonight, who was visiting from Ontario. What will he do for an encore tomorrow?
- Tidy special teams performance. 1-1 on the power-play and perfect on the PK. Only took the Vees seven seconds to score on their only man-advantage of the night.
- Back-to-back strong showings from Jordan McCallum. He may not grab a lot of headlines but McCallum was good again tonight, as he was buzzing around the net. In the third he had a chance but just sizzled a shot over the cross-bar. McCallum was unlucky not score on Tuesday as well. It ain’t easy being in and out of the line-up but McCallum has handled it like a pro and now is being rewarded for his patience.
- Evan Anderson is going to score his first BCHL goal soon. It seems like he’s continuing to put it together piece by piece. Tonight Anderson had a few rushes where he used his size to create some space and had a nice net-drive along the goal-line tonight. Anderson needs to put the frame to work and create the room and separation for himself.
- 1,741 came out to watch the Vees win their fifth home game. I am thankful for those who continue to come out to support this time but Penticton needs to come out. Hey, the NHL ain’t starting anytime soon, it’s getting nasty outside so why not come and watch a first-place team? The SOEC puts on one of the best fan experiences in the BCHL. I know, I’ve been to every rink and what the Vees do is right up there if not at the top. Plus tomorrow they have some great Halloween themed events going on at the game! Tell a friend, this team is darn good and needs your support.
- What are your thoughts on the new third jersey that debuted on Friday? I’m a fan, as the blue and vintage white make for a good pairing. A simple yet effective piping around the waste and arms and the logo enclosed in a circle give it that heritage look.