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- The Vees know how to bounce back, I don’t want to keep rolling this stat out, but they’re 10-4-1-2 coming off a loss; outscored their opponents 60-42 in those 17 games. That stat shows this team knows how to respond and they did that back on February 5th, doubling up Trail 6-3. They were swept the previous weekend by Salmon Arm and that win started their latest three-game winning streak; maybe tonight can kick-start things again.
- Friday was the 12th time the Vees were held to one goal or less this season. The magic number for this teams seems to be three. When they score three or more goals they’re 29-3. No, that’s not a typo, they’re 29-3-0-0 when scoring three or more goals in a game. They’re 3-11-2-4 when they score two or less goals in a game. Three is not a big number but for the Vees this year it is. They need to find a way to score and once they do, build on it.
- Hunter Miska will get the call between the pipes tonight and is making his first start against Victoria this season. Olivier Mantha won the previous two games against the Grizz. Miska is coming off a 29-save shutout of the Surrey Eagles on February 8th. This is Miska’s first start since he committed to Minnesota-Duluth and is 17-6-2-4 on the year, with a 2.29 goals-against average, while sporting a tidy .914 save percentage.
- Cam Amantea will draw back into the line-up, as he replaces Josh Blanchard on the fourth-line. Amantea will skate alongside Max Coatta and Matt Serratore, and those three need to be annoying to play against. All three are undersized but are quick and are relentless on the puck; hungry players.
- Riley Alferd stays on the blue-line in place of Alex Coulombe, who is missing his second game; he’s back home in Quebec attending to a personal matter. Alferd didn’t look out-of-place last night against Vernon and has good feet, so Victoria’s speed shouldn’t be a problem for him.
- When you think about it, what more can the Vees defense do? They held Vernon to just one even strength goal last night and have only coughed up four goals in the last three games. In fact, they’ve only allowed two even strength goals in their last three games, yet are 2-1. Need some run support.
- So far, so good against Victoria this season. The Vees opened up the season on September 6th against the Grizz, and did so with a 2-1 win; that at the BCHL Showcase. Then on December 15th in Victoria, the Vees again bettered the Grizz by a goal, winning 3-2. Two games, just three goals against and only one Fitzgerald has picked up points against the Vees (Gerry: 1-1-2).
- Wrote about it extensively last night but the Vees have to finish their chances tonight. They have to. They’ve struggled all year at trying to put teams away. Even when they win, they’ve found ways to make it harder than it should be. Last night they were buzzing in the Vernon zone during a stretch in the second but couldn’t double their lead. Then when Vernon tied it, the Vees came back down and had their chances but again couldn’t put the puck in the net. This is squarely on the players, hey, if the coaches could take a stick and do it themselves they would. Too many missed nets last night, too many times they got into a scoring area and didn’t get the puck on net. Time to bear down.
- Vernon did a good job at not allowing the Vees to get to the net consistently enough but they’ll need to find ways to get more traffic near the Victoria net tonight. I thought they struggled at not reaching that final few feet, in order to get a quality shot off. Need to find a way to weasel their way in close.
- The Fitzgerald triplets are dangerous. Shifty, quick, creative and hard to play against but the Vees had some success against them this year. You always have to be aware when they are on the ice, as the three have eyes in the back of their heads. They can create chances out of thin air but the Vees need to continue to be physical on them. Chris Rygus and Patrick Sexton will go against those three a lot tonight and need to make sure the triplets feel their presence every time they’re on the ice.
Vees Stat Pack:
Versus the Island Division: 9-1-0-1
Scoring vs. VIC:
Last 5 Games:
Record: 3-2-0-0 (14 GF, 11 GA)
PP: 7/35 (20.00%)
PK: 24/25 (96.00%)
Since Trade Deadline: 7-5-0-1
Vees Post-Christmas Record: 8-5-1-1 (13-8-0-2 post-Christmas break last season)
Miska: Won last 3 starts
Benoit: 15 games without taking a penalty
Goals: McClure (37) (2nd in BCHL)
Assists: Beauvais (42) (4th in BCHL)
Points: McClure (71) (3rd in BCHL)
PIMs: Blanleil/Sexton (56) (T-46th in BCHL)
PPG: McClure (12) (2nd in BCHL)
PPA: Beauvais (22) (2nd in BCHL)
SHG: Pierog (3) (T-5th in BCHL)
- Have now won four in a row, which is the best winning streak going in the BCHL. They outscored the West Kelowna Warriors 8-5 last night in a shootout in West-K.
- In their last three games the Grizz have scored 15 goals, but have also given up nine. Friday it was an 8-5 win over West Kelowna, February 9th it was a 4-3 overtime win against Powell River and on February 8th, they downed Coquitlam 3-1.
- Gerry and Myles Fitzgerald combined, account for 30 percent of the Grizzlies goals this season.When Gerry scores the Grizz are 15-7-0-2 and when Myles scores, they’re 11-5-1-2. The Vees need to find a way to keep those two and Leo quiet.
- After missing a good chuck of the season with a lower-body injury, Leo Fitzgerald was named the BCHL Player of the Week on Tuesday. Leo returned to the Victoria line-up on January 26th and had been out since September 14th. Obviously it took him a few games to get his legs underneath of him, because in his last three he has three goals and five points.
- Myles Fitzgerald leap-frogged Brad McClure for second in the BCHL scoring race on Friday. Myles is one point up on McClure after he picked up a pair of goals and three points in the win over West Kelowna.
- Interesting fact, the Fitzgerald triplets are committed to Bemidji State for next season, the same school Vees rear-guard Brett Beauvais will be going to in the fall. Bemidji is coached by Matt Serratore’s dad, Tom.
- The forgotten man: Jesse Schwartz. When you talk about the Grizzlies, the first thing that comes to mind is the Fitzgeralds and rightfully so. Schwartz doesn’t get much publicity, despite the fact he’s third in team scoring with 20 goals and 54 points in 43 games. When Leo went down in early September, it was Schwartz who filled his spot on the left-wing on the Grizzlies top line. Schwartz is red-hot too, as he has five goals and six points in his last two games. He scored twice last night against the Tribe and was named the game’s first star.
- Nic Renyard will face his former team for the third time this season and will be looking for his first win against Penticton. To date, he’s 13-9-1-1 with a 2.69 goals-against average, while maintaining a .912 save percentage. Against the Vees his save percentage sits at .896, and he’s 4-4 against the Interior with a 2.99 goals-against and a ,899 save percentage.
Grizzlies Stat Pack:
Versus the Interior Division: 6-4-1-2
Scoring vs. PEN:
G. Fitzgerald 1-1-2
G. Fitzgerald: 17 game point streak (15-16-31), multi point games in last 4 games
M. Fitzgerald: 4 game point streak (3-8-11), multi point games in last 4 games
Walchuk: No points in 13 games
McBride: No points in 13 games
Hahn: No points in 12 games
Meek: No points in 8 games
Last 5 Games:
Record: 4-1-0-0 (26 GF, 18 GA)
PP: 6/25 (24.00%)
PK: 13/17 (76.47%)
Only 5 players did not register point in 8-5 W over WK: Kearley, Meek, McBride, Hahn, and L. Fitzgerald
Goals: G. Fitzgerald (32) (3rd in BCHL)
Assists: M. Fitzgerald (49) (2nd in BCHL)
Points: M. Fitzgerald (72) (2nd in BCHL)
PIMs: Albertini (92) (T-4th in BCHL)
PPG: G. Fitzgerald (13) (1st in BCHL)
PPA: M. Fitzgerald (23) (1st in BCHL)
SHG: McLellan (2) (T-8th in BCHL)