Vees Record: 24-10-0-3 51 pts (1st Interior Division)
Last 10: 6-3-0-1
Last Game: 3-2 W vs. Eagles
vs. Mainland Division: 4-3-0-0 (Road: 1-2-0)
11-12 vs. Eagles: 1-0-0 (6-3 win @ SOEC October 23rd)
Eagles Record: 22-10-1-3 48 pts (1st Mainland Division)
Last 10: 5-3-1-1
Last Game: 6-2 W vs. Express
Vs. Interior Division: 6-1-0-2
January 5th 3-2 Vees (2 OT)
January 11th @ South Surrey Arena 7pm
Trade Talk: Two teams who made two of the biggest splashes on “Deadline Day” face-off for the second time in six days. The Vees downed the Eagles 3-2 in double-overtime last Saturday in Penticton, but that’s not what people will be talking about ahead of the rematch.
Yesterday the Eagles served notice to the rest of the BCHL by going out and acquiring Adam Tambellini from the Vernon Vipers for Mason Blacklock and future considerations. Tambellini was the much sought after piece at the deadline, as he was the leading scorer of the Vipers with 22 goals and 39 points. Tambellini will wear his familiar number nine, as Trevor Cameron, who currently occupied the number for the Eagles, has switched to 21.After the move the Eagles now have two scorers in the top 11 in BCHL scoring.
That wasn’t the only move for the Eagles as they picked-up Ryan Fraser-Lee from the Langley Rivermen and shipped Eric Chevrier to the Brooks Bandits (AJHL).
The Eagles have a pretty formidable line-up now with Brady Shaw and Adam Tambellini and the recent additions of Troy Paterson and Ryan Fraser-Lee, that will solidify an already impressive blue-line.
The Vees didn’t sit idly by, as they scooped John Siemer from the Coquitlam Express for future considerations. Siemer, 20, was the leading scorer of the Express and sits second in BCHL scoring heading into tonight’s game. Siemer will make his debut tonight and will wear number seven.
Siemer is gifted offensive player, with 20 goals and 49 points in 37 games this season. In parts of two seasons, the California native has 48 goals and 108 points in 87 games. He’s not big, as he checks in at 5’9 and 175 pounds but what he lacks in size, Siemer makes up for in creativity and skill.
The Setup: The Vees and Eagles conclude their two-game seasons series at South Surrey Arena. The Vees took the first encounter last Saturday 3-2 in double-overtime at the SOEC. Troy Stecher was the hero, scoring in the three-on-three period, as he stole a puck at his own blue-line and then raced in on Michael Santaguida.
The game was an entertaining affair, as the Vees did built up a 2-0 lead midway through the third period, before Brady Shaw and the Eagles put together a late third period rally to force the extra two periods.
Both teams played each other well, as the game was tight-checking from start to finish and both teams traded scoring chances through the 65 minutes of hockey. The scene now shifts to Surrey and the “big ice” at SSA. Yes, the Eagles home rink is Olympic sized, 200 feet long by 100 feet wide; more room for two good skating teams usually means more scoring chances. I say usually because these two clubs are pretty stingy defensively and it shall remain to be seen if the bigger ice makes for more chances at either end.
The Vees Beat: The Vees make their first visit to Surrey since January 8th, 2011, when they picked up a 5-1 win. Due to the BCHL’s unbalanced schedule last season, the Vees never did pay a visit to the Eagles nest.
The buzz surrounding tonight’s is the two newest players on either side, as John Siemer and Adam Tambellini make their debuts for Penticton and Surrey respectively. Siemer will be on a line with Mike Rebry and Wade Murphy to start, and I’m sure we will see, at some point anyway, Tambellini on a line with Brady Shaw.
Siemer’s debut is similar to that of Thomas Nitsche, as Nitsche, like Siemer, didn’t practice with his new team before suiting up. Siemer met the Vees at their hotel in Langley and the first time he will touch the ice in Vees colours will be in warm-up tonight. With that said, it’s difficult to have heightened expectations for the newcomer, as he will have to get use to his new line-mates and new surroundings. Safe to say he will get more comfortable as the game wears on.
Tonight starts a challenging stretch of five straight road games for the Vees over the next two weekends. After their games against Surrey and Langley, the Vees head on a grueling three game run in two and a half days, starting in Powell River next Friday and ending in Coquitlam on the Sunday afternoon. The Vees have shown they can win on the road and will have to do it again in the next two weeks. Segments like this in the schedule are welcomed challenges, as the players like getting away from home and going out on the road, and it test’s teams physically and mentally as well. Having a compact schedule like the next two weeks also in a way mimics a playoff schedule, as it can provide a preview of whats to come in March.
Three Keys vs. Surrey
- Manage the Ice: A bigger ice surface doesn’t mean the Vees have to drastically alter their game. It’s important to break the space down into manageable segments. For example the defense playing between the circles in their own zone, a marker for keeping yourself in position. This key more leans to playing without the puck and in your own end. There is extra room on either side but it doesn’t have to mean the opposition will have ample time and space. It’s about shrinking the ice, taking away the space from the opposition and making them play in smaller areas. That happens by good puck-side support and body position when defending in your own end. It also means closing down lanes through the middle of the ice when the opposition is trying to breakout or counter-attack.
- Rude Guests: It’s cliché but getting off to a good start is key on the road, especially when you’re playing on back-to-back nights. The Vees are 15-2-0-2 when scoring first this season and 16-0-0-1 when leading after the opening period. Confidence can do wonders for a road team, especially in a rink that not many on the Vees have played in. Trying to play catch-up hockey can be exhausting and that won’t set you up nicely for the game on Saturday. The Vees need to have a good push-off the start and take it to the Eagles. A good start doesn’t always mean scoring right away, as a few good shifts early can be the key in getting two points.
- Handling Adversity: Maybe contradicting my second key, but if things don’t go the Vees way early, they cant fold up shop. They did well with a short-handed line-up last week with six and five regulars missing from the two games. Tonight the Vees will be without Travis Blanleil, Rob Mann, Louie Nanne and Chad Katunar. Another challenge with key personnel out but one they can overcome. Sometimes teams are more hungry when they are up against it so to speak and that has certainly been true for the Vees. The Vees coaches talk about how it’s about a “process” and sometimes success doesn’t come easy or right away. The Vees can’t and don’t expect instant gratification when it comes to their game. If something doesn’t work right away they can’t get frustrated and stray from the game plan. Sometimes it will take a period, maybe two or right down to the bitter end to get what they want. They may not score first tonight, they may not get the lead after the first. Last week they only led 1-0 after the second and that was on a late goal by Brad McClure at the end of the second period. Surrey’s a good time, tops in the Mainland Division, and they Vees will have a battle on their hands tonight.
The Opposition: Outside of Langley, the Surrey Eagles the hottest team in the Mainland Division, winners of five of their last six and have collected points in all of those contests; their only blemish a 3-2 OT setback to the Vees.
No doubt adding Adam Tambellini will bolster an already formidable offense and the Vees will have to focus their attention not just on Brady Shaw and Michael Stenerson. Tambellini is a centerman and likely will see time with Shaw on a line and that duo will be quite the handful. Shaw is the trigger, a shoot-first type of player which suit Tambellini just fine. The two will need some time to develop some chemistry but certainly will be a dynamic pair as the season moves into February and March.
Don’t forget, Tambellini can shoot himself, as he does have 22 goals this season and three against the Vees in five games. In fact, he’s been a thorn in the Vees side throughout his career, with six goals and nine points in 13 games. He’s got the size, feet and vision to be one of the league’s best players. What has hindered Tambellini in the last two years is that fire in belly. At time’s he has looked frustrated or detached in a game but when he’s on, he’s on. I’m sure the change of scenery and the chance to play for a first place team and a contender will spark his interest.
It doesn’t stop after Shaw and Tambellini however, as the Eagles have a strong core of forwards with the likes of Michael Steneron, Brett Mulcahy, Drew Best, and Demico Hannoun to name a few. Tambellini provides that “game-changer” ability that will compliment a hard-working and well-balanced forward group. Surrey is a team that kind of comes at you in waves, as it necessarily isn’t all about one line. Remember, before the trade Brady Shaw wasn’t playing on the “top-line” as it was Mason Blacklock, Drew Best and Michael Stenerson as the number one trio.
Tonight is a good match-up of depth on both sides, as these two teams have plenty of weapons in their arsenal; should be fun to watch.