The Vees pushed their win streak to three to start the season with a pretty convincing 5-1 win over the Trail Smoke Eaters on Friday. Max Coatta stole the show, registering a hat-trick and finishing with a game high four points. Coatta made the jump from High School hockey in Minnesota, and it’s been a seamless transition.
Coatta’s line-mate Friday and teammate last year at Minnetonka High School, Jack Ramsey finished with a pair of assists; something in the water down there??
“Circling back to tonight, the Vees will need to get some secondary scoring if they’re going to have any success against Trail. Brad McClure, Ben Dalpe and Ryan Gropp account for all but one of the teams five goals and 11 of the teams 15 points.”
That’s what I wrote earlier tonight and the team did just that on Friday. Yes, the line of Brad McClure, Ben Dalpe and Ryan Gropp did manufacture a goal tonight but the team came up with four goals and 10 points outside of their top-line. The secondary scoring, which was key coming into tonight, delivered. Now, the coaches juggled the lines somewhat to try to manufacture more offense throughout their line-up and it worked. Max Coatta teamed up with Cody DePourcq and Jack Ramsey, and the three looked dangerous from start to finish.
(A grind, as it always is at Cominco Arena / Photos: Randy Emery)
Matt Serratore, Riley Alferd and Travis Blanleil had some chemistry going as well.. The three seemed to gel together and a lot of their success came through establishing the cycle down-low. Serratore was buzzing all night and finished with a handful of quality scoring chances. Speed kills at this level and these three bring plenty of speed and it was on display tonight.
The “fourth line” and I use quotations because it’s not your average fourth line, looked dangerous too. Cam Amantea moved down to play alongside Anthony Conti and Max Becker and three manufactured a few quality looks on goal. Conti had a strong game, as he was motivated to play his former team. Conti took the puck to the net with purpose and didn’t shy away from the physicality; just look at the photo at the top of the page. Conti setup Becker for a great scoring chance in the third and had a couple of his own. Amantea and Becker were effective and ate up quality minutes. No need for those two to play a flashy game and they did what was needed.
(Olivier Mantha doing his thing; superb in net. / Photos: Randy Emery)
Mantha turned in another quality performance between the pipes. He was razor-sharp on Friday, and his rebound control was excellent. I can’t recall seeing him out of position off the top of my head. The team in front of him did well at clearing out traffic but Mantha was there when needed and kept making key saves at key moments. Trail tried to make his night difficult by sending lots of traffic his way. He fought through it, took a few knocks in the process but more importantly didn’t lose focus. Mantha is showing he can be one of the top goaltenders in the league with the quality of starts he has put in through exhibition and now the regular season. Yes, some would tell me to pump the brakes but Mantha has been an ace in-goal. It’s great on another level, as it motivates Hunter Miska to keep pushing himself to get better and now tomorrow, if he starts, the Vees are going to have a hungry and highly motivated goalie in net.
The defense was very good through forty-minutes, as was said on the post-game show with Assistant Coach Steve Cawley. They showed lots of poise and weren’t panicking with the puck. But as the lead grew there was some individualism that started to creep in. Somewhat human nature but the defensemen know sometimes the best play is the simplest play. Otherwise. another stingy performance turned in by the Vees back-end.
I could go on and on about all the strong individual efforts but that’s my last point. This team is built around its depth and when we are writing and talking about several individual performances it’s a successful night.
Now it doesn’t get any easier tomorrow, as the Smokies I imagine will be a prickly bunch after tonight. I would also like to thank all the patient fans for staying with us through our technical issues on our radio broadcast. Yes, it’s Friday the 13th and that’s the best way to describe it.