Interior Conference Final Preview

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 HEAD-TO-HEAD BREAKDOWN

DATE

AWAY HOME RESULT TYPE
September 14th Penticton Vees West Kelowna Warriors 4-3 (OT) Vees Regular Season
September 22nd Penticton Vees West Kelowna Warriors 5-3 Vees Regular Season
October 23rd Penticton Vees West Kelowna Warriors 4-3 (OT) Vees Regular Season
October 26th West Kelowna Warriors Penticton Vees 4-1 Vees Regular Season
December 28th West Kelowna Warriors Penticton Vees 5-2 Warriors Regular Season
December 29th Penticton Vees West Kelowna Warriors 4-2 Vees Regular Season
January 26th West Kelowna Warriors Penticton Vees 2-1 Vees Regular Season

VENUE (7pm All Games)

March 29th West Kelowna Warriors Penticton Vees

SOEC

Interior Final
March 30th West Kelowna Warriors Penticton Vees

SOEC

Interior Final
April 1st Penticton Vees West Kelowna Warriors

Royal LePage Place

Interior Final
April 2nd Penticton Vees West Kelowna Warriors

Royal LePage Place

Interior Final
April 4th West Kelowna Warriors Penticton Vees

SOEC

Interior Final*
April 5th Penticton Vees West Kelowna Warriors

Royal LePage Place

Interior Final*
April 7th West Kelowna Warriors Penticton Vees

SOEC

Interior Final*

*If Necessary

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORDS

TEAM

W

L

GF

GA

Vees (H)

2

1

8

7

Vees (A)

4

0

17

11

REGULAR SEASON SERIES

PENTICTON VEES

WEST KELOWNA WARRIORS

GOALS

25

18

GOAL DIFF

+7

-7

SHOTS

257

232

SHOTS PER GAME

36.7

33.1

PP CHANCES

26

19

PP GOALS

5

3

SH GOALS

0

1

GOALS PER PERIOD

1)      5

1)      4

2)      7

2)      7

3)      11

3)      7

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Vees power-play in Playoffs: 6-22 (Home: 2-8)

Vees penalty-kill in Playoffs: 14-15 (Home: 5-6)

Vees power-play vs. West Kelowna:5-28 (Home: 1-6)

Vees penalty-kill vs. West Kelowna: 15-19 (Home: 9-9)

FT_OnDeck-shdwV2The series many wanted to see gets going on Friday night when the Vees host the West Kelowna Warriors in game one of the Interior Conference Final. It’s not much of a surprise these two meet for the right to move on to the Fred Page Cup Final. The Vees finished atop of the Interior Division in the Regular Season and the Warriors finished second; just two points back of the Vees.

The Vees make their second straight Interior Conference Final appearance after sweeping the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in round one. The Vees controlled that series for the most part, as they did what they wanted to do in the series. The sweep gave the Vees a lengthy break, as they will have sat on the sidelines for ten days before taking to the ice for game one tonight.

The Warriors are in uncharted territory so to speak, as they are making their first Conference Final appearance, as up until this season they have never advanced out of the second round. Now technically this is round two, as the Interior had one round eliminated from their playoff bracket last spring. Last year the Warriors missed out on the post-season and before that they lost in the second round four-straight years dating back to 2008. I say they are in uncharted territory, but at the same time playing in the second round is  nothing new. The closest the Tribe got to advancing out of the second round,  was taking the Vees to six games in the 2009-10 Interior Conference Semi-Final. West Kelowna got to the final four after a five-game series win over the Merritt Centennials. The Tribe won the last two games of the series, including all three at home. The fifth and final game in the series was a 7-4 victory at Royal LePage Place.

The two teams have only met twice prior in the post-season, the most recent was in 2010 with the Vees taking out the Warriors in six.Before that the Vees swept the Warriors in 2008 en route to their Fred Page Cup championship and a Doyle Cup appearance.

The Vees had the decisive advantage in the season series, winning six of the seven games including all four at RLP. The Vees started things off by winning the first four meetings; three in West Kelowna. Now, three of those four meetings were close, as the Vees won two in overtime. The Warriors picked up their only win on December 28th, when they cruised to a 5-2 win at the SOEC; a game the Vees don’t want to rehash. That victory maybe went beyond just the two points, as the Warriors last win in Penticton before that was over two years ago.

Despite all their regular season success against the Warriors, the Vees won’t be taking their opponent lightly. As many will say, what happens in the Regular Season  doesn’t mean much in the playoffs; wipe the slate clean. The Warriors were arguably the hottest team down the stretch, as they went 15-2-2 after their final game against the Vees on January 26th; that game, yes.

I’m not going to get into the “scuffle” that broke out at the end of the final game of the season series. Players were suspended for their actions and both teams were reprimanded  by the league. Emotions got the better of players on either side and when the dust settled nothing really happened, expect some good buzz ahead of this series; hopefully it helps sells a few more tickets.

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Vees scoring vs. Warriors

# Player Goals Assists Points
11 Sam Mellor

2

9

11

17 Mike Rebry

5

4

9

12 Wade Murphy

3

6

9

77 Troy Stecher

1

6

7

89 Brad McClure

5

1

6

8 Ryan Gropp

1

5

6

27 James De Haas

2

3

5

23 Louie Nanne

0

4

4

19 Cody DePourcq

3

0

3

24 Jedd Soleway

2

1

3

74 Cam Amantea

1

1

2

28 Brock Balson

0

2

2

6 Bryan Sinz

0

1

1

81 Travis Blanleil

0

1

1

7 John Siemer

0

1

1

 Vees Playoff Scoring

Louie Nanne 1-5-6 Sam Mellor 2-3-5

John Siemer 3-1-4 James de Haas 2-2-4

Jedd Soleway 2-2-4 Brock Balson 1-2-3

Sean Flanagan 1-2-3 Brad McClure 1-2-3

Wade Murphy 1-2-3 Mike Rebry 0-3-3

Ryan Gropp 1-1-2 Thomas Nitsche 0-2-2

Troy Stecher 0-2-2 Travis Blanleil 1-0-1

Bryan Sinz 0-1-1

Goalies

Chad Katunar GP 4 4-0 1.50 GAA .940 SV%

Scoring by Lines

Nanne – Soleway – Murphy = 4-9-13

Siemer – Rebry – McClure = 4-6-10

Gropp – Balson – Mellor = 4-6-10

Blanleil – DePourcq – Amantea 1-0-1

Defense= 3-9-12

Players to Watch

Chad Katunar: Cliche and maybe seems like a crutch that I go back to the Vees goalie again, but as cliche it might seem, Katunar will need to be at his best if the Vees are to advance. Katunar, by his standards, had a bit of a slow start in the Salmon Arm series, as he was guilty of letting a couple “softies” get behind him. But he buckled down when the Vees needed him most, and was a reason or maybe the reason why the Vees took games three and four.

Before the playoffs started, Katunar was going through a rough patch, as he had a pedestrian .884 save-percentage in the final ten games of the regular season. No, he didn’t start all ten but he wasn’t his sharpest heading into the playoffs. Give the veteran goalie credit, as he AGAIN silenced his critics. Remember last season? Katunar had to carry the mail in the playoffs after a late season injury to Mike Garteig. Katunar had his fair share of critics heading into the Chilliwack series but quickly put many at ease in Penticton then he muted the noise. Katunar seems to be at his best when the stakes are the highest.

In the all important game three against Salmon Arm he was lights out helping the Vees grab a 3-0 strangle-hold in the series. He then was sensational in the opening ten minutes of game four when Salmon Arm was carpet bombing the Vees goal. Katunar made himself look big, was being aggressive again by cutting down angles and his rebound control was excellent. It doesn’t get any easier in the next round, as the Warriors boast quite a few more weapons than the Silverbacks.

Katunar will be tested, as the Warriors were the highest scoring team in the BCHL in the Regular Season; eight goals better than the Vees. They also found the net quite regularly in their five-game series win against Merritt, which included putting a seven spot on Tyler Steel in game five. Katunar will have to contend with the likes of Seb Lloyd, Max French, Marcus Basara, Danny Gayle, Ambrose Firkus, Matt Anholt and if healthy David Pope and Mitch Nardi. Well, that’s just a few I named, as the Warriors have been getting scoring from everywhere. Now, I’m not saying he will have to be perfect, as that will be a near impossible task with the firepower West Kelowna boasts.

Katunar rather just needs to steady,  like he has been in the first four games, and make the saves he needs to make. Katunar and the Vees can’t afford spotting the Warriors any easy goals in this series; it’s going to be too tight. Katunar was good in the Regular Season against the Tribe, as he won five of his six starts and posted a .925 save-percentage. That Katunar, like the won we saw in the last two games against Salmon Arm, played with a lot of confidence and made some big saves at key times.

The Big Three: A little different, as I’m not going to profile just one player but one line in particular. The Vees don’t rely on just one line as they have four very good lines that bring something to the table. But, Louie Nanne, Jedd Soleway and Wade Murphy will need to be factors if the Vees are going to advance.

Nanne leads the pack with a goal and six points, which is tops in team playoff scoring. Soleway had a strong finish in the series with goals in back-to-back games and had four points in the series. Murphy too was good in the final two games but only had one goal in the four game set. The Vees will need more scoring out of Murphy as he has shown in the past he thrives in pressure situations and likes playing on the “big stage.”

The three will likely see the Tribe’s best checking forwards and top shutdown D pairing in the series. That will help the Vees in other areas when talking about the match-up game but the three will need to pickup where they left off on March 19th. There’s no questioning the threes chemistry and we saw flashes of brilliance in the first round (see Nanne’s setup for Murphy in game four). But the three can’t take naps in this series so to speak. The stakes are higher, the games will be tougher and it won’t be as easy to score like it might have been one round ago. All three found their scoring touch against the Warriors in the Regular Season and will need to rekindle that magic again.

Momentum is big this time of year, some say that’s what the playoffs are all about and which team uses it to their advantage. This is a line that can do many things that can turn the tide so to speak. The three work well together off the rush and down low on the cycle. Jedd Soleway can be a difference maker below the circles with his size, sucking defenders his way and creating space of Nanne and Murphy. Both Nanne and Murphy posses wicked shots and can’t be shy about putting rubber on Tyler Briggs.

The Vees have other lines that can contribute and we saw that in the first round. However the Vees can’t afford these three not contributing going forward. It’s crucial for the three to build off what they started against Salmon Arm.

Mike Rebry: The Vees number two center has been in a bit of a dry spell in recent weeks. Rebry did not score in round one but had three assists. His last goal was back on March 2nd in Trail, in the second period of a 5-4 win. If your keeping track at home that’s a stretch of six games.

The two-way forward hasn’t been stinking up the joint by any means, as he’s been quite productive in other areas. Rebry is considered one of the Vees top face-off men and was solid in the circle against Salmon Arm. He is entrusted to take big draws at key times, in all three zones and he usually comes out on top more often than not. He’s also had a nose for the net in the post-season, as Rebry always seems to be one of the first players crashing the net and is inn and around the action. That’s the encourage thing, as he hasn’t gone stone cold. It would be one thing if Rebry was not getting to the scoring areas; that’s when the red flag goes up.

Rebry will need to start finding his scoring touch once again, especially if the Warriors focus on trying to shutdown the Soleway trio. If the Tribe put their attention on Nanne, Soleway and Murphy, that means Rebry and his line-mates (John Siemer and Brad McClure) will have their opportunities. I really do see “Rebs” as a possible x-factor in this series. His face-off prowess and penalty-killing talents will be counted on heavily but if he can start scoring than it’s jut one more threat for the Tribe to deal with.

FT_TheOtherGuys-shdwV2 Maybe the hottest team in the BCHL stands in the way of the Vees and a spot in the Fred Page Cup final. The Warriors flew under the radar a bit despite having an excellent second half of the BCHL Regular Reason, posting a 17-2-2-2 record from January 1st onward. Including the playoffs, the Warriors are 8-1-1-0 in their last 10 games. The only blemishes involving Merritt, a tie back on March 1st and a loss in game three of the first round.

When the playoff match-ups were set, many thought the West Kelowna-Merritt series had the makings for a classic; a seven game epic. Well, I’m not saying it wasn’t competitive but it certainly didn’t turn out the way many thought. The Warriors winning may not be surprising, as they were the higher seed but in just five games? That might have been shocking to quite a few or maybe not. The Warriors did have their way with the Centennials in the Regular Season, winning all but one of the seven meetings; the other was a tie.

West Kelowna, like the Vees, are a team built to win now as they have a lot of pieces from last year and others that have junior experience. By my count, on their current roster, the Warriors have 12 holdovers from last season and three others that have either played at the junior ‘A’ or major junior level. The results shouldn’t be surprising even though they are to some. Rylan Ferster has built a very good team from the goalie on out.

Tyler Briggs is showing why he was traded for in the summer, as the 20 year-old stopped all but 13 of the 201 shots he faced in the Merritt series. I saw him in person in game five and he was a rock. He made one big save early in the third period, when they Tribe were up by just one. The puck stayed out and the Warriors went the other way and scored and then added two more. Briggs didn’t have the Regular Season success statistically he would have wanted against the Vees, but he was very good in a majority of the games. More than once he has stood on his head against the Vees this season and I don’t expect that to end now we are in the playoffs.

Their blue-line has been quite good in the playoffs even though they have had a couple significant injuries. Ben Tegtmeyer was hurt early on in the series and Braxton Bilous also missed time with an injury. I’m not sure what the status is on the two but the Warriors solider on without them. West Kelowna went with five dressed defensemen at different points in the series and basically played four heavily; at least in game five. The likes of Adam Plant, Josh Monk, Brett Zarazun and Matt Berry deserve a lot of credit for the extra minutes they had to take on. It remains to be seen  if they do get one or both their injured D-man back in this series. Just on odds, I would wager we would at least see of of the two; time will tell.

The forward group had it’s bumps ans bruises as well, as Mitch Nardi, David Pope, Brett McKinnon and Brent Lashuk (might be others I’m missing) went down with injuries late in the season and playoffs. Nardi and McKinnon both picked up injuries on the final weekend of the regular season and have yet to see action in the post-season. Pope was hurt early in the series and Lashuk only did sit out one game. Despite the laundry list of injuries, this team still got the job done and they were led by their veterans.

Max French had a big series with four goals and seven points, including a hat-trick in the series clinching win. But he’s not even the top scorer, as that title belongs to Marcus Basara. The second year Warrior had eight points in the Merritt series and just maybe was the best player in the series. Basara has some stiff competition outside of French, as Ambrose Firkus, Danny Gayle, Seb Lloyd and Matt Anholt all had stellar series. I was thoroughly impressed with both Firkus and Anholt. The two were always making things happen on the ice and were quite impressive in the game five win I took in at RLP. Firkus especially who had four goals and six points in the five games.

The Warriors are very deep up front and like the Vees have many weapons at their disposal. Depth is scrutinized and analyzed this time of the year and the Warriors have the depth needed for a long playoff run. It’s not just one line doing all the damage and that is a big reason for their post-season success. The Warriors come at you from all angles as they have eight players with five or more points and eight with two or more goals.

This team isn’t heavy on one line in particular and the Vees will have a challenge in trying to slow down this high-flying attack. I know the Warriors have pointed out the Vees “potent” offense but the Warriors are no slouches either. Remember they did score eight more goals in the Regular Season than the Vees. This team is as dangerous as the Vees and both teams and will be the Vees stiffest challenge to date.

Regular Season Scoring vs. Penticton

Seb Lloyd  4-5-9 Marcus Basara 3-4-7

Matt Anholt  3-2-5  Max French  1-4-5

Shawn Hochhausen  2-2-4 Josh Monk  0-4-4

Adam Plant  1-2-3  Ambrose Firkus  1-2-3

David Pope  2-0-2   Brent  Lashuk  0-2-2

Brent  Lashuk  0-2-2 Brennan Clark  1-0-1

Matt Berry  0-1-1  Brett Zarazun  0-1-1

Reid Simmonds  0-1-1 Dustin  Cave  0-1-1

Warriors Playoff Scoring  

Basara 3-5-8 French 4-3-7

Firkus 4-2-6 Gayle 3-3-6

Monk 2-4-6 Lloyd 0-6-6

Anholt 2-3-5 Plant 0-5-5

Hochhausen 0-4-4 Clark 2-1-3

Berry 0-3-3 Simmonds 2-0-2

Lashuk 0-2-2 Bilous 0-1-1

Goaltending:
Tyler Briggs: 5 GP 4-1-0 2.52 GAA .935 SV% 0 SO

Warriors Last 10 Games: (Including Playoffs)

G’s      A’s      PTS    PIMS   PPG    PPA   SHG    Streaks

#4 Seb Lloyd

0

11

11

11

0

5

0

8 game point streak(0-11-11)
#5 Ben Tegtmeyer

0

2

2

2

0

2

0

No points in 3 gms.
#7 Matthew Berry

0

4

4

11

0

0

0

1 game point streak(0-1-1)
#8 Adam Plant

1

6

7

8

0

3

0

1 game point streak(0-1-1)
#9 David Pope

3

8

11

2

2

4

0

No points in 2 gms.
#10 Marcus Basara

5

8

13

13

3

2

0

8 game point streak(5-7-12)
#11 Daniel Gayle

5

5

10

4

2

3

0

1 game point streak(1-2-3)
#14 Devon Hascarl

0

1

1

4

0

0

0

No points in 9 gms.
#15 Ambrose Firkus

9

4

13

14

1

3

0

1 game point streak(1-1-2)
#16 Shawn Hochhausen

2

4

6

21

0

0

0

2 game point streak(1-2-3)
#19 Brent Lashuk

1

2

3

2

1

1

0

1 game point streak(0-1-1)
#20 Brennan Clark

3

2

5

6

2

0

0

2 game point streak(1-1-2)
#21 Matt Anholt

4

5

9

13

0

0

1

5 game point streak(2-3-5)
#22 Dustin Cave

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

No points in 10 gms.
#23 Reid Simmonds

2

0

2

15

0

0

0

2 game point streak(2-0-2)
#24 Brett Zarazun

0

0

0

15

0

0

0

No points in 15 gms.
#25 Max French

6

4

10

12

1

3

0

1 game point streak(3-0-3)
#26 Mitch Nardi

1

1

2

6

0

0

0

No points in 4 gms.
#27 Braxton Bilous

0

3

3

10

0

0

0

No points in 3 gms.
#28 Josh Monk

3

9

12

15

2

3

0

6 game point streak(3-4-7)

 

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About CBeauchemin

Director of Broadcasting & Communication for the Penticton Vees
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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