4-2-0-1 (2nd Island) Record 5-2-0-0 (1st Interior)
1-2-0-0 Away / Home 2-0-0-0
3-2 L @ Trail Last Game 4-1 W vs. Merritt
Sep 29th @ Merritt Next Game Oct 4th @ Salmon Arm
Sep 28th @ SOEC / Dec 14th @ Island Savings Centre
The Penticton Vees (5-2-0-0) celebrated their home opener in style on Friday, as they picked up a 4-1 win over the Merritt Centennials (3-5-0) in front of over thirty-six hundred fans at the SOEC; which was celebrating its fifth birthday.
Travis Blanleil (Vermont ’14) and Ben Dalpe (Clarkson ’14) led the way with a goal and an assist each. Captain Brad McClure (Ferris State ’14) picked up two helpers and the Vees got goals from four different players. Hunter Miska picked up the win, stopping 20 of 21 shots and made a few eye-catching saves as he improved his record to 3-1.
Friday’s contest was a tight-checking affair up until midway through the third period, when the Vees erupted for three unanswered goals. Ryan Gropp (North Dakota ’14), Blanleil and Cam Amantea scored in a nine-minute span. The “Trench Line” was reunited for Friday’s contest and they had an immediate impact, as Blanleil, Amantea and Cody DePourcq combined for two goals and four points; all coming in the third period.
Interesting note, with Friday’s win, the Vees are now a perfect 5-0 in home openers at the SOEC.
The Vees looked themselves in the first and third periods of last nights win. They, as Head Coach put it during the second intermission, “got away from the details” in the second period, but played a very good forty-minutes to get past a pesky Merritt squad. The key at this level is to be consistent and play well from minute one to minute sixty, but in junior you’re dealing with young men-kids and consistency won’t be there all the time. What was encouraging was the adjustments they made in the third after that sub-par second period.
Lets be honest, if it wasn’t for the heroics of Devin Kero in the Merritt goal early last night, that game would have been out of reach early. The Vees were all over the Cents’ in the opening period and had them all bungled up. Kero made several key saves, a handful in tight, to keep his team somehow level until the fifteen minute mark. That work ethic, that was duplicated in the third, needs to show up in all three periods tonight; no shortcuts.
One thing I think the Vees need to do a better job of is winning the puck battles along the boards. Last night I thought they weren’t hard enough in those areas and Merritt seem to keep coming out of scrums with the puck. Now, the team did start to turn that part of their game around in the third but for tonight they have to be hard on the puck from start to finish. Don’t let yourself get pushed around and don’t be easy to play against; be a pain in the rear-end.
The line-up as you can see above, only has one change and that’s the goalie switch, as Olivier Mantha gets the call tonight. Hunter Miska, despite a lighter work load for 2/3 of the game, was brilliant in the second period. It isn’t easy for a goalie to see just two shots for twenty minutes, then get pressed into action and face 14 shots in one period alone. Remember, the Cents’ had 21 shots on net in total. Miska’s second period performance was a big reason why the Vees took two points from Merritt last night. Mantha has been as good this year and was full value in the loss in PG last Friday. The twenty year-old will be hungry to get back between the pipes after watching the last two games. What impresses me about Mantha is his calm demeanor. He never panics or gets upset when there is a lot of traffic around his net. You can bump him, clip him or even run him but he won’t get rattled; that frustrates the opposition.
OP Office Products 3 Keys:
- Pedal to the Metal: As mentioned above, the Vees need to press the Caps from start to finish. They played in Trail last night, drove late into the early morning to Penticton. They’re not going to be the freshest bunch and the Vees need to take advantage of some stiff legs. Tempo will be key tonight, if the Vees keep skating, keep pushing the pace, they might tire out their opposition. Tired legs equal tired heads, which equals mistakes and penalties, which equals scoring chances for the Vees. Attack, attack, attack.
- Cycle. Rinse. Repeat: Keeping the puck down low and eating up time in the Caps end will create chances for the Vees. Working the cycle below the circles and getting their defenders to start chasing will open up opportunities. Getting the cycle game established, the bread and butter for this team, is another way to grind down the opposition.
- Nails: All three keys are interconnected; don’t be easy to play against tonight. Don’t let the road team off the hook if they looked fatigued. Don’t pass up a hit on the fore-check or anywhere for that matter. Leaning on the Caps from start to finish is just another way to bag the opposition. If you make it easy on the road team, you’re just shooting yourself in the foot. Be nasty along the boards and behind the net. Get in the way of somebody.
Tonight it’s a non-divisional encounter with the Cowichan Valley Capitals (4-2-0-1) who are in the midst of a three game Interior road-swing. Friday in Trail, the Caps were on the wrong end of a 3-2 score, as the Smoke Eaters scored two goals in under two minutes midway through the third to seal the victory. The Caps are winless in their last two outings, dating back to last Sunday’s 3-2 overtime setback at home to the Surrey Eagles. The Caps wrap-up their road trip tomorrow afternoon at the Nicola Valley Arena in Merritt against the Centennials.
The Caps have some firepower up front, as they have six players with five or more points and two them are in the top twenty in BCHL scoring (Myles Powell and Mason Malkowich). Powell leads the team in scoring with three goals and nine points, and seems to be adjusting nicely to his new surroundings after an off-season trade from Victoria. Close behind Powell is Malkowich who has four goals and eight points. One name to keep tabs on is 16 year-old Colton Kehler, who has three goals in seven games and will play on the top-line tonight for the Caps.
In goal, ex-QMJHL product Robin Gusse (Goose) has down most of the heavy lifting, appearing in all but one of the Caps seven games and on paper, is penciled in to be tonight’s starter.
On our Dairy Queen EZ Rock AM 800 Broadcast: I’ll chat with both Fred Harbinson and Capitals Head Coach Bob Beatty in our Cherry Lane Shopping Centre Pre-Game Show. In the first intermission, it’s part two of the Joey Laleggia feature that ran on the Subway BCHL This Week show on Team 1410. In the second intermission, for our Penticton Herald feature interview, I sit down with all three, yes, all three members of the Vees “Trench Line.” Be prepared to shake your head, as the four of us had some fun.