(Lewis Zerter-Gossage navigating his way through traffic)
Assistant Coach Nick Fuher
- Can you chalk up a “character” win in pre-season? If not, the Vees came the closest as they possibly could. Friday was the first pre-season game for this group and at home; there were some nerves early. They shook those off as the game grew older and by the third period you could see the chemistry start to build. As the saying goes, “It’s not how you start but how you finish.”
- Excuse me for one second as I put my Vees-coloured glassed on, but despite going down 2-0 in the first, the Vees didn’t play all that bad. The first goal against came while they were down a man and it was the result of a juicy rebound. Smart by Liam Blackburn to find that soft spot in coverage and skate into a position to corral the rebound off the pad of Hunter Miska. The second Warriors goal was the result of some rotten luck for Miska. He makes a great first save but the rebound trickles down his paraphernalia and gets lost in his feet. Kylar Hope was in the perfect spot, as he was the first to spot the loose biscuit and he poked it over the line to double West Kelowna’s lead. West Kelowna was an opportunistic bunch in that opening twenty-minutes. Hey, the Warriors had good spells in the Vees zone but it wasn’t like they were up a pair and about to run the Vees out of the building. You had a feeling going into the second the Vees were going to get it going.
- Before those two West-K tallies, Lewis Zerter-Gossage almost and I mean ALMOST, put the Vees ahead early. He found himself open in the right-circle and his shot got underneath Andy Desautels arm but it hit the fat part of the post on the far-side and stayed out. Zerter-Gossage would make more noise later.
- What else did I like in the first? Tyson Jost looked to have eyes in the back of his helmet at times. There was a couple of instances where he fired crisp tape-to-tape passes in high traffic areas. Two stood out to me and both were to Cody DePourcq and both were great scoring chances. On both occasions the puck jumped over DePourcq’s stick, because I think even he was a bit surprised at the accuracy and strength of Jost’s passes. One play had Jost circling up to the blue-line before spinning a cross-body pass back down-low to DePourcq in the left-circle, who got crossed up nullifying a one-timer chance. The other was on the Vees lone power-play in the first where Jost fired a cross-crease bullet to DePourcq at the back-post but that too just didn’t click. I kept putting stars besides Jost’s name on Friday, as he seemed to be always doing something.
- The other 16-year-old had some great moments too. Dante Fabbro looked confident carrying the puck and had a couple of nice forays into the West Kelowna zone. He’s such an effortless skater, in the sense he’s off and running in just a couple of strides. Once he gets more comfortable, he’ll be a guy that will be a handful once he finds open ice.
- I also had a few stars besides Gabe Bast’s name. He was a noticeable physical presence on the Vees blue-line. He wasn’t shy about throwing his weight around and played tough around his net. On more than one occasion he was leaning on guys as he would angle them to the boards or he was putting a shoulder into someone just off the crease. One play in the first that caught my eye was when he was caught flat-footed by Adam Osczevski. Osczevski looked to have a clear-cut breakaway but Bast had great closing speed and muscled Osczevski off the puck just enough, to snuff out any scoring chance. I keep getting reminded of Troy Stecher when I see Bast play.
- Riley Alferd, who only had one assist tonight, was more than deserving of his first star recognition. He had like what? 45 scoring chances? He hit two posts and setup that Mitch Newsome breakaway goal, that seemed to turn the tide. He was everywhere tonight and he had something going with line-mates Jack Ramsey and Zerter-Gossage. The three combined for a goal and three points. Alferd had a redirect that looked to glance off the outside of the post and then he danced down the middle of the Warriors zone, before clanging his wrist-shot off the cross-bar. Is there anyone who’s been more snake-bitten than Alferd going back to last season?
- Nice to see, what is penciled in as the Vees top-line, generate the game-winning goal. Patrick Newell and Demico Hannoun played pitch-and-catch down the right-wing before Newell wired a wrist-shot for the game-winner. Hannoun had a few bursts down the right-wing that made West Kelowna sweat in this one.
- That Newell wrist-shot was sure deceptive. Shot off his stick like a rocket.
- That third Vees goal doesn’t happen without Steen Cooper. Officially he didn’t get an assist but he practically manufactured the goal with a superb back-check just inside his own blue-line. Cooper wrestled the puck away from the Warriors forward and quickly threw it up ice to Newell, and he and Hannoun took it the rest of the way. That play by Cooper was a payoff from the time he spent in the gym this summer. He packed on more muscle and that extra strength came in handy.
- So, Lewis Zerter-Gossage. He was buzzing tonight. The one play everyone was taking about was his between-the-legs scoop shot he pulled on his breakaway rush in the second. He streaked down the right-wing, stepped around the defender and as he cut across the goal, he pulled the puck back between his legs. It was identical to what Tomas Hertl pulled off last year with San Jose. Zerter-Gossage was stopped and it was only because of a f a glove save by Any Desautels. That was an eye-popping move but just as good was the save to keep Zerter-Gossage off the highlight reel. “LZG” did setup the game-winner, as he burned the defender wide on the left-wing and as he was going to go around the net, he threw the puck back out front to a streaking Jack Ramsey. That’s some great vision and poise for Zerter-Gossage to sling the puck back above the goal-line to Ramsey for the one-touch goal.
Tomorrow the two teams go at it again but this time the scene shifts to Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna. I’ll have an audio-only broadcast on the internet and you can listen to that right HERE (www.mixlr.com/penticton-vees). The plan is to go on the air at 6:45pm with a pre-game, followed by play-by-play at 7pm.