The Vees face another Island Division opponent in the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at the BCHL Bauer Showcase in Chilliwack. The Vees opened the season with a 2-1 win over the Victoria Grizzlies Friday afternoon on the secondary ice sheet. Today they’re on the “big rink” and have a chance to run the table at the Showcase; going back to last season the Vees are 3-0 at this event.
Brad McClure and Ryan Gropp supplied the offense and Olivier Mantha stopped 25 of 26 shots in Friday’s win. Ben Dalpe assisted on both of the Vees goals and was named the game’s first star. McClure, Gropp and Dalpe combined for five points in the win and accounted for all but one point on the score-sheet.
Hunter Miska will make his Vees debut between the pipes, as it’s his turn to guard the net. Also it would appear that Anthony Conti will make his debut up front as well; will pass on line-up information near game time.
Today it’s the Bulldogs season opener as they did not play Friday at the Showcase. The ‘Dogs are coming off a deep playoff run in 2013, as they played into April for the first time since 2010. The Dogs advanced to the Coastal Conference Finals before bowing out to the eventual Fred Page Cup Champion Surrey Eagles.
Alberni Valley has a healthy amount of returning players from last season’s squad. Eleven players from last year’s playoff run are back and they have thirteen players on their roster with Junior ‘A’ experience. Notable returnees include Hunter Stewart, Tryg Strand, Mitch Makin, Jared Wilson, Kurt Gosselin and goalie Brad Rebagliati.
The Bulldogs were dealt a bit of a blow when their two top scorers in Evan Tironese and Ryan Lough left for the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers. Compounding matters is top-scoring defenseman Bo Pellah also going south to play for the Sioux Falls Stampede. Alberni Valley did bring in Justin Georgeson (Express) via trade who will try to help fill the void left by the three departed players. Make no mistake, this team will be ready to play and will be a stiff test for the Vees this afternoon. Under Kevin Willison the ‘Dogs are known for their hard-nosed and relentless style of play.
Trevor Miller and myself will have the pre-game show starting at 3:15pm on Fasthockey and http://www.mixlr.com