- Appropriate that I use a file photo of Hunter Miska for the post-game recap. He was arguably the Vees best player tonight and was a big reason why the Vees came out of Trail with a win. Miska stopped 31 of 32 shots tonight including 23 of 24 over the final two periods; all 11 in the third period. Miska was at his best in the second where he made half a dozen critical stops. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said post-game that he thought the Vees were outplayed in the latter half the second and Miska was the reason why they had a 2-1 lead after 2. Remember, Laframbroise didn’t score that go-ahead marker until at the very end of the period, well nearly, as there was eight seconds left. Trail made a strong push in the second to grab the lead but the Vees puck-stopper said no. Big-time performance by Miska between the pipes.
- Miska’s best save? There were two in my books. In the second he shut the door on a short-handed breakaway bid by their leading scorer Charlie Zuccarini. Zuccarini tried to go five-hole but Miska swept his legs underneath of himself and kept the puck out. His other eye-popping save came in the third when he stopped Trail’s Craig Martin point-blank from maybe eight feet out. Martin took a pass just off the crease, between the circles but Miska threw out his shoulder. The kid was on his “A” game.
- Speaking of kids, how sneaky good is Mitch Newsome? The 17-year-old had two assists Friday, though officially they only had him down for one; that will change soon. So with the scoring corrections, Newsome now has two goals and seven points and is tied with Tyson Jost for a share in the team scoring lead. Newsome may have more points than words he has spoken this season but the silent assassin plays such a sound game; he does a lot of little things well.
- The first period tonight was a bit frantic and a touch sloppy but both teams struggled with the lively boards and soft ice. Yeah, the ice didn’t seem to be in great shape as the puck looked like a tennis ball out there. There was some minor hockey on the ice up until an hour before the game and it’s still fairly warm out but the ice in Trail gave both teams fits. Ice and board conditions aside, I thought the Vees could have had a sharper start to the game then they did. They, like Trail, were guilty of too many defensive zone turnovers. You could tell the newer faces were trying to learn the nuances of Cominco Arena on the fly.
- I liked the game of Mike Lee on the back-end. Despite the cozier confines, Lee was still at his shifty best, dancing up and down the ice and really helped get the Vees transition game going. Lee had a terrific setup for Jack Ramsey in the first period but the Assistant Captain couldn’t pull the trigger. I also liked Dante Fabbro and Jarod Hilderman on the blue-line. Those two were sneaky good in their own zone tonight and they weren’t noticeable because of how simple they kept things.Throughout the game I kept seeing one of the two make a nice play under pressure and usually in behind the Vees net.
- The Vees most dangerous line tonight, or one that kept bringing it was Newsome, Laframbroise and Steen Cooper. Cooper and Laframboise bagged goals and the three combined for two goals and five points on the night. The three were put together for a reason, as all three play a very direct north-south brand of hockey. They tend to go through not around the opposition and the trio isn’t shy about rolling up the sleeves and going to work in the corners. On both of Newsome’s assists, he barely held onto the puck and again that isn’t a bad thing. He made quick decisions with the puck, getting it to Cooper and Laframbroise and those quick decisions helped his line-mates get into scoring areas.
- After a so-so Showcase weekend, the trio of Cody DePourcq, Demico Hannoun and Patrick Newell were pretty darn solid on Friday as well. Hannoun scored in the win but the three more importantly played “In your face” hockey. Expectations are higher for this line, as it’s three veteran players will be counted on to provided a significant level of offense. A good start for those three and hopefully it carries over to Saturday.
- Critical way to start a tough weekend schedule with a win. The long trip to Trail isn’t lost and now you’re halfway to a four-point weekend for the second straight week. Open the weekend on a loss and the pressure mounts and it sets up for a tough Saturday. Not saying Saturday’s tilt with Merritt will be easy but coming into Merritt after losing would have been that much more difficult. The Vees too got a bit of a taste of what tomorrow will bring with another home opener.