The Vees opened the home portion of the exhibition schedule with a 2-0 win over the West Kelowna Warriors Monday. Ryan Gropp and Brett Beauvais was the only offense the Vees needed, as Olivier Mantha stopped all 22 shots he faced. A healthy crowd at the SOEC saw a pretty decent hockey game, which was highlighted by some tempers flaring in the third period. It may be only exhibition but the rivalry looked to be in mid-season form.
Like Sunday night, the two teams held each other in check in the first period, as neither side could get on the scoreboard. The Vees had a few good chances in the opening twenty minutes, including Liam Finlay (OK Rockets) being robbed by Cody Porter (POE) in front of the net. The Warriors best chance came off the stick of David Pope who rattled a wrist-shot off the cross-bar.
Neither side was giving up a whole heck of a lot in the first period. The Vees were much sharper in their own zone tonight compared to Sunday and did a relatively good job of keeping the Warriors attack to the outside. There were some breakdowns, that’s expected given how early it is, but when there was a mistake Olivier Mantha was there to stop the puck.
The second started much like the first, as things were tight early but the game started to open up as the period wore on. Likely because both teams had the long chance and tired legs led to open space and back-and-forth hockey. Max Becker had a great chance on the door-step but his quick release was foiled by Cody Porter. The Vees did spend a fair chunk of time in the Tribes end in the second and did have plenty of action around the goal. In all, 20 shots were put on goal but for the first half, Porter was kicking everything out. He fought through traffic and made a handful of nice saves on tipped point shots.
The Warriors swapped out goaltenders midway through the middle frame and the Vees struck shortly after. Ryan Gropp picked up a loose puck just inside his own blue-line and turned up ice. Gropp picked up speed through the neutral zone, made a pair of nice moves to evade fore-checkers and slid a wrister along the ice through Steve Myland who just came on to spell off Porter; it was the first shot he faced. Gropp’s tally coming at 11:43 and the only assist was credited to Brett Beauvais.
The Vees did get their run of power-play time in the second and the man-advantage showed some good signs despite going 0-6 on the night.Keep in my the Vees have had little to none special teams practice yet. The two units did move the puck well for the most part and were smart with their shot selection. The biggest thing that plagued them on their power-play was their accuracy. The points were hammering pucks, especially Alex Coulombe but they just couldn’t get the puck to cooperate. Nothing to worry about, in fact it’s a positive sign that they’re creating chances with the power-play. The second might have been the Vees best period, considering the shots on goal (20-6) and most importantly how they chewed up time in the Warriors end.Shots might have been inflated with their power-play time but like I said, they still spent plenty of time inside the oppositions blue-line.
I’ll be pretty honest, I thought the third period wasn’t much to write home about, expect maybe for the bad blood that flared up toward the end of the game. The third started to become a bit of a grind, as the two teams started to get sloppy likely due to fatigue. The ebb and flow wasn’t there like it was in the second. The Vees did double their lead courtesy of a home-team bounce.
Paul Stoykewych teed up a slapper from the top of the zone which rattled high of the glass behind the net. However, the puck caromed right to Brett Beauvais at the side of the net who crept down from the point; an easy tap-in for his second point of the game at 5:55. After that it was sluggish, as both teams were guilty of mistakes and like I said, game legs aren’t there just yet.
The bad blood did flare up as Anthony Conti and Devon Hascarl got into a nice tilt in front of the Warriors net. Conti was wrestling with Seb Lloyd before Hascarl intervened and the two quickly shed the mitts. It was a spirited bout, as Conti lost his helmet but managed to pop the visor of Hascarl. Both were throwing heavy right hands but both refused to buckle. The tussled ended with Conti wrestling Hascarl to the ice. Tempers rose later when Ambrose Firkus was assessed two penalties for his whack on Ben Dalpe in the corner. As the play carried on, Chris Rygus caught Seb Lloyd on the boards in an awkward spot. That led to a bit of a scrum and Rygus getting involved with Mac Ferner; both given roughing minors. Good to see the rivalry is alive and well.
All in all, a pretty decent exhibition game that had most of the Vees roster playing their first game of the pre-season.Yes it lacked polish but that’s expected and there was room for improvement but the Vees are off to a solid start to their five-game exhibition schedule.