The Penticton Vees have landed on Vancouver Island, as they continue their Island Division tour with a stop in Nanaimo to face the Clippers. The Vees got their trip started off with a convincing 7-3 win in Powell River on Friday. Brad McClure led all scorers with two goals and four points, with Brett Beauvais picking up four assists. Five different players scored for the Vees and 10 players found the scoresheet.
Jack Ramsey and Matt Serratore bumped a couple of scoring slumps in the win. Ramsey bagged his first goal in nine games and Serratore notched his first in seven. The seven goals ties a sigh high for the Vees, as they also scored seven in Trail back on September 14th. The win was also the Vees first in five games on the road, as they were 0-4-1-0 in their previous five before Friday.
The Vees have had their way with the Island Division so far this season, sporting a perfect 6-0-0-0 record against the Division; 2-0-0-0 on the road. Last season, the Vees split the season series with the Clips, each team winning on home ice; the Vees lost 4-2 in Nanaimo on October 14th last season.
Only line-up change will be Hunter Miska (5-2-1-1 / 2.02 GAA / .925 SV % / 1SO) getting the start in-goal; same forward lines and D pairings from as Friday.
At the start of the season, the easy assumption was the Clippers were in a “rebuilding year” but they’ve quickly shot down that notion. The shipmen are 11-9-0-1 through 21 games and are just two points back of second in the Island Division coming into tonight’s game. The Clips are playing some of their best hockey of the season, winners of four of their last five and six of their last 10; points in seven of 10. The Clippers are a youthful bunch, as their top five scorers are all ‘95’s and they only are carrying three ‘93’s on their 22-man roster. The make-up of their roster is predominantly 19 and 18 year-olds with two 17 year-olds sprinkled in. So they can return all but four players next season (Josh McArdle committed to Brown next fall); good problem to have this spring. The Clips are led upfront by newcomer Sheldon Rempal, who has eight goals and 22 points in 21 games. Right behind Rempal is returning forward Brendan Taylor (7-12-19) and rookie Bo Brauer (9-6-15). Another forward to keep tabs on his Devin Brosseau who has eight goals and 15 points and has a scholarship to Clarkson in two years’ time. Veteran Jayson Argue is back as the teams starter and has played the bulk of the minutes in the Clippers crease; he’s likely tonight’s starter. I like the Clippers roster makeup, as they have nine players from last year’s squad but also have a good mix of fresh faces.
These two teams meet again next weekend, Saturday November 16th to wrap-up this two game season series. The Clippers will be on a three game Interior Division road trip, with the Vees catching them in the middle of games between Trail and Merritt.
- They snapped one streak last night and now will look to start another tonight. As I’ve pointed out several times, the Vees were winless in their five road games before Friday. Now, with that in the rear-view mirror, the Vees will look to string back to back wins on the road for the first time since September 13th and 14th. The road record now is back at .500 and the Vees looked like a confident bunch last night. Here’s to them continuing to trend in the right direction.
- The Vees scoring challenges have been well documented but they’re now averaging an even five goals per-game in their last three; 3.8 in their last five. So, there’s that.
- Travis Blanleil has fashioned together a tidy three game point streak (1-2-3). If you missed it last night on the blog, Blanleil has now surpassed his output from last season (5-9-14) and in just 18 games; he had 12 points in 46 games one year ago.
- Brad McClure is a point per-game player. In 71 career regular season games, he has exactly 71 points. Consistent.
- Another good start is in order versus the Clippers. The Vees are 8-2-0-1 when they score first, whereas the Clippers are 4-5-0-1 when they surrender the game’s first goal. Lots of emphasis will be put on the first period. The Vees are 8-0-0-1 when the take a lead into the first intermission and the Clippers are 5-0-0-0. The first twenty minutes might have a say on how the last forty go.
- The coaching staff is stressing attention to detail ahead of this one. Last night the Vees were very good at executing the fundamentals against Powell River. Their d-zone coverage was pretty good, their transition was spot on and they were excellent on the fore-check. It isn’t rocket science but at the same time it isn’t easy to make sure those three areas are spot on; takes a lot of focus and discipline.
- The power-play has really come around in the last handful of games and that might be the key area tonight. The Vees are 5-18 (27%) on the power-play in their last five games and the Clippers are the third most penalized team in the league (104). The Clippers are a team that can run into penalty trouble if they get frustrated. Their penalty-kill sits 11th (79%) and it’s up to the Vees to find ways to manufacture power-plays.
- Chris Rygus faces his former team for the first time tonight but he’ll quickly tell you he isn’t treating this game any different. He is a team guy and certainly doesn’t want any attention around his return to Nanaimo. As he says, it’s about get the two points tonight.
- Record in last 5 games: 4-1-0-0 (16 GF, 10 GA)
- PP in last 5 games: 6/25 (24.00 %)
- PK in last 5 games: 19/23 (82.61 %)
- NAN PP: Scored a PPG in each of last 5 games
- NAN vs. Interior: In 5 games vs. Interior this season, NAN has two shutouts (vs. TRA, vs. VER)
- Jayson Argue has won his last 4 starts (vs. AV, vs. CV, @PR, vs. TRA)
- Bo Brauer has four points in his last five games; Mason Mitchell has three goals in two games.
On the Broadcast: Pre-Game show gets underway at 6:40 tonight from the Frank Crane Arena. I’ll chat with both coaches and tee things up from the FCA. On the broadcast I’ll speak with Chris Rygus and Brad McClure and Assistant Coach Steve Cawley will join me post-game. We’ll also have a special announcement in regards to the next two home games. Stay tuned.