Vees Record: 24-11-0-3 51 pts (1st Interior Division)
Last 10: 6-4-0-0
Last Game: 2-1 L @ Eagles
vs. Mainland Division: 4-4-0-0 (Road: 1-3-0)
Rivermen Record: 15-14-1-5 36 pts (3rd Mainland Division)
Last 10: 6-2-1-1
Last Game: 4-3 OTW vs. Captials (Jan 6th)
Vs. Interior Division: 2-4-0-1
December 8th 5-1 Vees @ South Okanagan Events Centre
Vees Scoring vs. Langley Langley Scoring vs. Vees
Murphy 1-2-3 Dombrovskiy 1-0-1
Soleway 1-2-3 Whiteley 0-1-1
Nanne 1-1-2 Anderson 0-1-1
The Setup: The Vees and Rivermen tangle for the second and final time this season, as the series shifts to the shores of the Fraser River in Langley and the Langley Events Centre.
The Vees took the two-game series opener back on December 8th in Penticton, when they cruised to a 5-1 win. Wade Murphy, Jedd Soleway and Louie Nanne led the charge in that game, the three playing together combined for eight points.
Penticton chased Rivermen start James Barr early in the second period, after he surrendered four goals on 19 shots. Penticton native Darren Hogg replaced Barr and went the rest of the way stopping 22 of 23 in a solid relief effort.
In case you missed it, last night the Vees were upended by the Surrey Eagles 2-1 in a controversial game. The Vees twice had goals waved off, one late in the second period and another early in the third period. Mike Rebry had his goal-line tally called back as the referee said he blew his whistle, and Troy Stecher’s howitzer in the third was ” too quick” for the ref or the goal judge to see…
A loss that stings no doubt as the Vees feel they were the better team on the night, especially in the third period when they had a huge chunk of power-play time. The Vees will have to channel that frustration properly as they’re facing a red-hot Langley side who is well rested.
The Vees Beat: Even though they lost, the Vees have to feel good about themselves, especially the effort they turned in last night in Surrey. Limiting the first place Eagles to just two goals and 24 shots, five in the third, is pretty much all you can ask for. The Vees outshot the Eagles 33-16 over the final two periods, but the one stat that counts is scoring and that went the Eagles way.
The Vees will have to turn the page quickly if they already haven’t and get prepared for another challenge: Langley Rivermen. In the past the words “challenge” and “Rivermen” haven’t been associated with each other with regularity. That isn’t a shot at the Rivermen organization, but just a reflection of their struggles last season and up-and-down start to this year. BUT Bobby Henderson’s team appears to have righted the ship, well in recently anyways, winners of their last four games and looking to make it five at home; more on that later.
The Vees will have to be ready from the start, as the Rivermen haven’t played since Sunday and that was at home against the Cowichan Valley Capitals; a game in which they took 4-3 in OT. So, the Vees are facing a red-hot team and a rested group as well. This is where you again look at the start, as the Vees no doubt will face a strong push from Langley team that will be chomping at the bit to come at Penticton.
The Vees have had success already once against the Rivermen, winning comfortably on home ice but that was at home and against a team that really struggles on the road. The Rivermen are just 4-11-0-3 away from the LEC, compared to their 11-3-1-2 home record; stark contrast. They will be facing a much more confident team then they did on December 8th, and factor in the four game winning-streak and you start to get the idea.
Two new line-mates that can help the Vees in nabbing two points against the Rivermen are Wade Murphy and John Siemer. The two were paired together for the first time last night alongside Mike Rebry, and have been Rivermen killers in their BCHL careers. For Murphy he has six goals and 18 points, yup, 18 points against Langley in six career games. Siemer has seven goals and 10 points in six games this season; well make that five because he was shutout in one of those games. The two along with Rebry looked terrific last night and will need that same effort tonight.
Well the top three lines last night were pretty sound, as Brad McClure, Jedd Soleway and Ryan Gropp looked dangerous. Sam Mellor, Brock Balson and Cody DePourcq had their chances as well. Basically the Vees will need another push from their top nine guys if they want two points out of this one.
Keys Tonight vs. Langley
1. Regroup, Repeat: As a alluded to above, the Vees need to put last night’s controversial loss behind them and focus on the Rivermen. The Vees will need to find that energy and compete level they had last night and bring that tonight in Langley. It was a first place show down last night, a possible preview of the league final in front of a large and energetic crowd. Tonight it is against the fourth place Langley Rivermen, in non-divisional matchup and probably not in front of the crowd we saw last night. With that said, the Vees need to prepare for tonight’s contest like they did last night or they’re going to be in trouble. Can’t take a red-hot and confident Langley team for granted or it’s going to be a long night at the LEC.
2. Traffic Jam: We are in the Lower Mainland, where the traffic can make you age quickly so it’s fitting terminology. The Vees need to get bodies in front of the Langley net and make it difficult for James Barr, who I presume will be getting the start tonight. Last night Michael Santaguida was letting out rebounds left and right but the Vees had a tough time getting to those second and third chances.The likes of Jedd Soleway, Brock Balson and Jordan McCallum, the Vees big bodies, need to be getting up close and personal with the Langley netminder and every other forward for that matter. The Vees scored a couple of goals from the “dirty” areas last time they played the Rivermen. Balson, DePourcq, Murphy and Soleway all found the back of net within feet of the Langley goal.
3. Bump & Go: In the last outing the Rivermen were keen to dump the puck in and race after the Vees defense and establish body contact. The Rivermen are an aggressive team on the fore-check, eager to send two or three forwards in to lay the body, and we saw that back on December 8th. Sending their forwards hard on the fore-check will open up space for the Vees on the counter-attack, if they’re transition game is going. The Vees with their speed will have the chance to create some odd-man rushes if they can eluded the Rivermen fore-checkers and turn the puck up ice quickly. Take their lumps, but get the puck out quickly and let the breakout be your counter-punch.
The Opposition: Since being handed that 5-1 loss to the Vees, the Rivermen went on a roll and haven’t come down. They’ve won their last four and haven’t lost in five games. Their last loss came on December 15th against Chilliwack, that coming at home oddly enough.
It isn’t just the Mario Puskarich show for Langley of late as the Riv’ been recipients of timely scoring.Yes, the league’s top scorer does have a four game point streak (4-4-8) but there has been others with a hot hand. Derek Sutliffe is coming off a BCHL Player of the Week award, where he was a big factor in wins over Chilliwack and Cowichan Valley last week. The Las Vegas, Nevada native has four goals in his last four games.
Others have been feeling it as well. Ben Butcher has four points in as many games and Mitch McLain has three goals and eight points in his last four. Mark Whiteley has five assists in four games and the list can go on. Everyone seems to be on top of their game. The Rivermen are getting scoring from up and down the line-up and when that happens you’re usually going to come out on top.