Post-Game #45: Vees Bump Slump in Vernon

Game Recap 

  • Scoring issues? What issues? After scoring just nine goals in their previous five games, the Vees go out and score six tonight against Vernon. First time they’ve scored more than three goals since January 5th, when coincidentally enough, they hung a six-spot in Merritt.
  • Funny how you can be so dead wrong about a game. Going into tonight’s match up, I fully expected another tight, one-goal affair, much like we saw on January 10th when these two last met and like the Vees previous five games (all decided by one goal). Early on it looked to be just that, as both sides did a good job at holding the other in check. Then Penticton struck for two goals in just eight seconds at the tail end of the first.
  • Backtracking a bit, where I thought this game turned in the Vees favour was just minutes in when they were forced to kill a penalty. Two minutes in and they were down a man but the league’s number one ranked PK kept the Vipers off the scoresheet, in large part because of the goaltending by Olivier Mantha. He made a handful of quality stops during the PK but none better than his lunging blocker save on Demico Hannoun. Mantha came across to his right and stuck out his blocker on a Hannoun one-timer from the circle (look up Lunogo on Sam Gagner from Tuesday in Edmonton). Robbery. The Vees were good from the start but that PK I thought gave them a little something extra.
  • Funny how things can be played pretty close to the chest, then the game can turn drastically in seconds. Eight to be exact. First, Erik Benoit scored a goal Don Cherry would highlight on Coach’s Corner. On their first power-play, Brett Beauvais had his point-shot stopped but the puck fell in the feet of Austin Smith. Benoit was camped out in front and didn’t hesitate, as he literally shoveled the puck across the goal-line. That real estate in front isn’t easy to occupy by any means but Benoit went to the “dirty area” and was rewarded. Don’t look now but Benoit has four goals and nine points in eight games; nice little pickup.
  • If you blinked, you missed the Vees second goal. I know I did. No, seriously, I completely missed it. As I was still jotting down the scoring summary on the Benoit marker, Cody DePourcq doubled the Vees lead. Off the ensuing face-off, Ben Dalpe blocked a clearing attempt along the wall and Jack Ramsey followed up by firing the puck over to DePourcq in the slot. DePourcq, who was left unattended between the circles, quickly put a wrister through Smith. I heard a commotion, looked over to my broadcast partner Trevor Miller, who with a sheepish look on his face, was pointing to the ice. Yup. Missed it.
  • Those three were put together ahead of tonight’s game and had something going from the start. DePourcq finished with two goals, Dalpe had two assists and Ramsey was again rock solid on the PK and in his own end. Bit of an “odd couple” pairing between the three but the trio looked like long-time line-mates.
  • Another good line? Benoit, Shane McColgan and Steen Cooper. Between the three of them, they finished with two goals and five points. The chemistry between Benoit and McColgan shouldn’t come as a surprise, as they were line-mates in Saskatoon last season. But Cooper isn’t just window dressing, as he brings an infectious work ethic to the group. Cooper had an assist but I had him up there for standout performances; the kid works his butt off. Good to see McColgan get his touch back, as he picked up an assist on the Benoit power-play goal and absolutely hammered the puck on his goal late in the second. The timing of his goal was critical, as four minutes earlier the Vipers scored and got some life. Hey, if McColgan doesn’t score, it’s still 3-1 and if Vernon got another, then its a whole different story. McColgan buries, its 4-1 and that goal I think popped the Vipers balloon. Great work on that shift by that line, tiring out the Vipers, (Dylan Chanter losing his stick didn’t hurt) before Benoit spotted McColgan out front with a pass from behind the net.
  • Trevor Miller nailed his three keys tonight. In the pre-game show he talked about the Vees needing to get a push from the back-end to help kick-start the offense and they did, as Jarod Hilderman scored in the second. He stressed the importance of foot speed and the Vees had their feet going tonight and looked to have a step on Vernon. He also spoke about the need for a consistent approach, no lapses, and that also happened; pretty complete game from Penticton. Don’t credit the partner much but his touching points were spot on.
  • Speaking of Hilderman, it seems game by game he gets more confident and with that continues to show more and more. He was again a talking point, as he was very good in his own zone, especially behind his net and in the corners. As Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said post-game, Hilderman maybe had one turnover if that tonight. Oh yes, the goal. Hilderman scored his first career BCHL goal tonight and while it won’t make many highlight reels, it was good in its own ways. First, he brings the puck into the zone with speed and two, he has the presence to side-step a hip check along the wall, whilst not turning over the puck in the process before cutting to the net. He never panicked and after getting to the bottom of the right-circle he dished it out front. At least I think that was intentional. His pass or shot went off of Smith’s goalie stick I believe at the near-post. Nonetheless, a great play by the 16-year-old, scoring his first in Vernon and in a big divisional game.
  • Before the armchair quarterbacks come out and start asking why Hilderman wasn’t playing more earlier, people have to remember his age. He’s a kid. Earlier in the year, maybe the 16-year-old wasn’t ready for the day-to-day workload of being a top six guy in the BCHL. Credit Assistant Coach Mike Hengen, the D coach has put in a lot of time with “Hildy,” going over video and constantly being a positive voice in his ear. Hilderman has matured and has proven he can be a guy that can be relied on and that says a lot for a 16-year-old in a league where defenseman usually come in at 18-year-old.
  •  The D-core as a whole was very good tonight and I thought Chris Rygus had one of his better games of the season. The rugged rear-guard was hard to place against, as he played with a noticeable edge. Patrick Sexton was great in the trenches, Paul Stoykewych seemed to keep finding the open man in the transition game, and Alex Coulombe got involved physically.
  • Matt Serratore took a high-stick to the chops in the first period and didn’t return to the game after leaving to get stitches. Nothing serious of course, just a nice gash under his lip that a few zips won’t fix. There’s no good time to get dinged but Serratore was playing well right before his injury. No official word yet, but at worst, I would say Serratore is a game-time decision tomorrow; wouldn’t shock me to seem him tomorrow.
  • Good to see the power-play break out of the shackles, as they scored twice on three opportunities after only scoring once in the last five games. I think the biggest difference from this week and last week was the Vees ability to get sufficient time together on the ice for practice to help foster some chemistry. The power-play looked more polished and threatening and hopefully it continues that way. The power-play was 2-3 tonight after going 1/19 in its previous five.
  • The Vees are now 21-0-1-2 when leading after two periods; you don’t want to play from behind against them.
  • I could go on and on about tonight but that’s maybe the point, as the Vees had quite a few standout players. Top to bottom, the Vees played a pretty complete game.
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About CBeauchemin

Director of Broadcasting & Communication for the Penticton Vees
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