Jan 5th 3-2 (2 OT) Vees (SOEC)
Jan 11th2-1 Eagles (South Surrey Arena)
Fred Page Cup Schedule
Game 1 Friday, April 12th (SSA)
Game 2 Saturday, April 13th (SSA)
Game 3 Monday, April 15th (SOEC)
Game 4 Tuesday, April 16th (SOEC)
Game 5**Thursday, April 18th (SSA)
Game 6** Sunday, April 21st (SOEC)
Game 7** Monday, April 22nd (SSA)
** If necessary
Games in Surrey are at 7:15pm
Games three & four in Penticton are at 7pm; game six is at 5pm
Vees penalty-kill: 29-31 (93.55%) / Road: 14-15 (93.33%)
Eagles power-play: 9-56 (16.07%) / Home: 3-29 (10.34%)
Eagles penalty-kill: 33-37 (89.19%) / Home: 20-21 (95.24%)
The curtains get pulled back, as the BCHL Fred Page Cup Final gets going tonight from the South Surrey Arena. The Vees are looking to defend their 2012 championship and are making their third appearance in the league championship in the last six years. The Eagles finally got over the Coastal Conference hump so to speak. Before this year, the Eagles lost the last three Conference Finals, all to the Powell River Kings and this is their first appearance in the FPC since 2005.
Both sides will be maybe shaking out the rust, as the Vees and Eagles had lengthy layoffs in between rounds. The Vees have had an eight-day break, as they haven’t played since last Thursday when the took out the West Kelowna Warriors in five games. The Eagles haven’t since April 2nd when they swept the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. Certainly both teams will be itching to get this thing going.
The Vees are looking to keep the Fred Page Cup in the South Okanagan and can win their third championship since 2008. The Vees have been on a roll since the playoffs have started, winning eight of their nine playoff games and started the post-season on a seven-game winning streak.
A bit of a role reversal for the Vees, as they are starting a playoff series on the road for the first time in quite some time. In fact, you have to go back to March 19th, 2010 when the Vees didn’t start a playoff series at the SOEC. That year they the Vernon Vipers in the Interior Conference Final; the Vipers winning in six. Doesn’t have much bearing on this series what so ever but an interesting tidbit none the less.
How did the Vees get here? Well, for one they have had some key contributions from up and down the line-up. As I wrote in my preview, the Vees have spread out their scoring, with 12 different players scoring at least one goal and only one regular on the roster doesn’t have at least one point. Goal-scoring has been a tight race too, as there is a two-way tie for the team lead (5), three-way tie for second (4) and a four-way tie (3) for third; nine players have three or more goals.
As you can see above, special teams has been a big key to their success as well. The power-play went through its highs and lows in the regular season but has caught lightning in a bottle in the playoffs. The Vees have the best power-play overall and on the road and are only one of two teams to have hit the double-digits in power-play goals; Alberni Valley the other.
Goaltending has been excellent too, Chad Katunar is playing some of his best hockey and will need to carry on here in the BCHL Final. Katunar is 8-1 through nine games, sports a goals-against of 2.15 and owns a sound .926 save-percentage. He was very good in the Interior Final against the Warriors and out-dueled a veteran puck-stopper in Tyler Briggs. The task gets even harder, as he faces Michael Santaguida, who was the league’s top goaltender in the regular season and owns the best numbers in the playoffs. If there is one thing I know about Katunar, is that he always seems to rise to the occasion.
Health wise the Vees are in decent shape, they will be without Cam Amantea for tonight’s game as he is still on the mend after being hurt in game two of the Interior Final. Josh Blanchard once again takes his spot on the win with Cody DePourcq and Travis Blanleil.
The Eagles have been on their own roll in the playoffs, rattling off 10 wins in 11 games and have won nine in a row dating back to game three of round one versus Langley; a bit under the radar that streak. It’s been a bit of everything that has led to their success and march to the Fred Page Cup.
The Eagles have been rolling offensively with three of their own occupying the top three spots in the BCHL playoff scoring race. Brady Shaw leads the pack with six goals and 16 points, followed by Michael Stenerson (6-8-14) and Adam Tambellini (9-4-13). Shaw is the hottest of the group, riding a five-game point streak, where he has collected three goals and eight points. The Eagles sit tied with the Vees for the most goals in the playoffs with 38 but have played two more games.
They’re not just all offense either, as they’ve been getting the job done on the other side of the puck. It starts with their goaltender Michael Santaguida who’s been lights-out. Santaguida has the most wins (10) bests goals-against (1.61) and save-percentage (.956). He also has the most shutouts in the playoffs with three; one more than he had in the regular season. If they Vees are going to score on Santaguida, they’re going to need to get plenty of traffic in front of him.
The power-play maybe is the only “let down” at this point and this is me just pulling hairs. The Eagles have had the most power-play opportunities but sit seventh. However they have only scored two less goals than the Vees. Numbers drastically change in the special teams department during the playoffs. Put it this way, the Vees aren’t going to go and take liberties on anyone in white tonight. They are well aware there is plenty of weapons on this Eagles team; let a sleeping dog lie.