Demico Hannoun 1st Intermission
Riley Alferd 2nd Intermission
- There was plenty of hype surrounding Wednesday’s game between the Vees and Centennials. First place showdown between two 5-1-0 teams and it didn’t disappoint. Like Saturday in Salmon Arm, Wednesday’s clash with Merritt had a bit of everything. The Vees staked themselves out to a three-goal lead and had tremendous pressure on the Cents’ in the second. The third featured the Cents’ rallying back and making it a one goal game. Then a thrilling ending, Merritt pressed but the Vees didn’t break and they earned a hard-fought 4-2 win. Both teams emotions spilled over at the end as well, as several players got mixed up after the whistle. Exciting night.
- The Vees also debuted their brand new Cantex Construction Third Jersey Wednesday. Personally I love the look but I’m biased to the design. I really liked the blue and white striping on the arms, which really popped on the ice. The white helmet was the perfect complement to the black, blue and white jersey. The Vees will wear this jersey for every Wednesday home game and if tonight was any indication, we might seem them more than just on Wednesday’s.
- I don’t know if you want to say “lost” in all the emotions of tonight game, was the fact the Vees, courtesy of Underwriters Insurance and the Penticton Speedway Foundation, raffled off a 2005 Pontiac Sunfire and from what I’m told, to a very deserving young family who just moved to the area. That’s awesome.
- After only scoring first once in their first five games, the Vees found a way to open the scoring Wednesday and for the second straight game. Dante Fabbro showed off his cannon for a shot on the power-play, blasting a slap-shot low and past Anthony Pupplo night-minutes in. Fabbro’s second of his young BCHL career and now both his goals have come at home and on the power-play. Not only does Fabbro possess a heavy shot, he’s got this great ability to get it to the net time after time. Remember, he’s just 16.
- I thought the Vees had a pretty solid first period. Killed-off an early penalty against, got the lead with the power-play and didn’t give up a whole lot to Merritt after the Cents’ first power-play.
- The Vees could have had a great opportunity to build on their lead after James Neil picked up a double-minor high-sticking penalty near the end of the first. But Dante Fabbro picked up a slashing penalty as the first expired, so what would have been a two and a half-minute power-play to start the second, turned into two minutes of four-on-four.That emotional response is what happens with younger players but as Fred Harbinson said pre-game, going forward the Vees have to cut down on the unnecessary penalties.
- Credit the Vees as the missed power-play opportunity didn’t faze them, as they struck quickly in the second period. Tyson Jost showed his skill set, as he drove down the middle of the Cents’ zoned, outnumbered, but still managed to wire a shot from the left-circle over Pupplo’s glove and just inside the far-post. That was Jost’s first goal since his hat-trick against Alberni Valley in the second game of the season. Jost was definitely “on” Wednesday, as he and line-mates Demico Hannoun and Lewis Zerter-Gossage were dangerous all night. Jost was buzzing in the offensive zone, either as a threat with the puck or as a play-maker working along the walls and behind the net.
- Sixty-seconds after Jost bagged his fourth, Patrick Newell scored his second of the year. Some nice skilled shown on the Vees third goal, as Newell uses the defenseman in front as a screen to get his wrist-shot over the Cents’ goalie on the near-side. Gabe Bast made a heads up play to get the puck to Newell, by faking the slap-shot and quickly pushing the puck down to Newell on the wall with a slap-pass. the fake by Bast sucked a forward up to the blue-line to who tried to block the shot, which allowing Newell to move into open space and scored the third goal. Newell must love playing at the SOEC, as he has two goals in as many games.
- Though the Vees scored twice in the second, I still felt they left goal(s) on the table. They outshot Merritt 14-5 in the middle period and the ice was noticeably tilted down towards the Merritt end. Though they didn’t score on their two second period power-plays, I thought the Vees had some great looks and at times it was a bit of a shooting gallery around Pupplo’s net.
- On one of the two power-plays, Fabbro had a sequence where he had two-three of his point-shots blocked and I think his nemesis was his own team-mate Jack Ramsey. I believe two of his blasts from the blue-line during one power-play shift hit Ramsey, who was trying to provide the screen in front. What you like about Fabbro is the confidence he has in himself to want to be shooting the puck; rare to see that from a guy his age. Also, one thing I’ve heard from coaches, is never get discouraged from a blocked shot in those situations. They usually encourage the player to keep shooting, because one, the shot is targeted for the net and two,the defender eventually won’t get in front of an attempt and that’s when good things happen.
- I thought the Vees really owned the boards in the second period, as they seemed to cycle / move the puck at will along the boards and behind the Merritt net. A lot of their chances came from carrying the puck in, creating movement on the boards and finding soft spots in coverage.
- One bad piece of news from the second period and from the game was Cody DePourcq leaving with an injury. He didn’t return to the game and his status is not yet known for this weekend; the team will have more information Thursday. DePourcq got caught up with Rhett Wilcox at the Vees net, the two collided with Hunter Miska and then crashed into the boards behind the net. DePourcq struggled to get up as the play went up ice. In fact, with DePourcq limping at the side of his own net, Cam Amantea had two great scoring chances at the other end. When the play came back down in the Vees zone, despite being in significant pain, DePourcq still had the wherewithal to block a Merritt shot from the slot before the whistle finally went; gutsy.
- You hope DePourcq’s injury isn’t serious, as the Vees are already missing their other Co-Captain in Patrick sexton. Though DePourcq hasn’t put up the numbers he has wanted to in the early going, he’s such a key piece to this team. A “glue” guy. He’s great against the other teams best players and plays on the Vees penalty-kill. Hoping for positive news Thursday.
- In saying that, the team did well stepping up in his absence in the third period, especially after Merritt shaved the Vees lead to one-goal. I thought consistently, the Riley Alferd, Jack Ramsey and Matt Serratore were one of the Vees best lines. Likely the best line outside of Jost, Hannoun and Zerter-Gossage. Alferd and Ramsey both plugged holes on other lines and Serratore was his typical self, being defensively responsible and being a thorn in Merritt’s side. The three for the most part, did a good job at keeping Sam Johnson, John Schiavo and Michael Ederer quiet. The Cents’ didn’t get a even-strength goal from their top two lines, which coming into Wednesday’s game accounted for 58 percent of their scoring. The only top six player to score was Diego Cuglietta but that was on the power-play.
- Though he was the less busy of the two goaltenders, I thought Hunter Miska had a very solid outing in the Vees net. You can’t fault him on either of the two Merritt goals and he pretty much stopped what he saw Wednesday. It isn’t easy for a goalie to go with longer stretches without much action, then have a quality shot against or a scramble in their crease. There were a few scrambles around the net and each time Miska found a way to keep the puck out. His best save was his second to last, as he thwarted Josh Teves on a rebound in close. The pad save was when Merritt had their goalie pulled for the extra-skater and there was less than half a minute left in the game; that’s a clutch save. How clutch? Seconds after the pad stop, Riley Alferd got to a loose puck in the neutral zone and put the game on ice with an empty-netter.
- The SOEC hasn’t treated the Cents’ so kind in the last year. Going back to last season and including the playoffs, Merritt is 0-5-0 in their last five trips to the SOEC and have been outscored 28-8 in those five games.