- Saturday’s game is what coaches love. A game in which they lay out a particular game plan based on pre-scouting the opponent and then the players go out and execute the particulars. That’s what we saw at the SOEC, as two well-coached, organized teams went head-to-head. When you get a match-up like Saturday, the game can turn into a chess match and in the end it’s about execution and managing your mistakes. The Vees capitalized on opportunities that they were given and they gave up very little, if anything, to the Kings.
- The Vees foot speed has been well documented but the Kings can skate too and the game had a great pace to it. Little east-west movement, as these two teams went up and down the ice and in a hurry. No, there wasn’t much physical play on both sides but they didn’t waste time getting the puck from one end to the other. Very few whistles in the first period and this game had a completely different feel than Friday’s contest with Vernon and for obvious reasons. I will say this, Kurt Keats of Powell River can motor. That kid’s wheels are impressive as he only needs to take a few strides before he’s gone. I would put him up near the top of the BCHL for fastest skaters.
- Scoring chances didn’t come by the truck load Saturday and you got that sense of urgency from the Vees because of that. Nice extended shift in the Powell River zone that led to the opening goal of the game. The Vees power-play ended but that unit stayed out and kept the puck in the Kings end. The Vees did a good job of working the puck around down low before the puck came to Gabe Bast. Smart move by the defenseman to creep in from the point, as the Kings attention was focused on the Vees forwards below the circles. Bast took the pass from Jack Ramsey and wired a quick shot post and in. That was Bast’s first goal since November 7th, a stretch of 11 games. Funny, because his goal was eerily similar to his last goal on November 7th. That was in Victoria and Bast did the same thing he did Saturday. Sensed a soft spot in coverage, crept in from the blue-line and one-timed a pass from the corner. Kid’s got a good hockey IQ.
- Off the top of my head I can’t remember the last time the Vees limited their opponent to a single shot on goal in a period. The Vees outshot Powell River 8-1 in the first period. Yup, 8-1. The shot on net wasn’t a scoring chance. Now, the Kings attempted quite a few shots, especially from the blue-line on their two first period power-plays. Give the Vees PK’ers a lot of credit as they got in the way of the puck quite a few times. Jack Ramsey I think led the way in blocked shots, as he got his limbs in front of a handful of Kings shot attempts. When I was watching his performance, and the rest of the Vees PK’ers, I thought of that scene from Happy Gilmore, when Adam Sandler gets into the batting cage, to toughen up for the upcoming hockey season. The clip, if you want to see my reference, is here (warning there is one curse word in the scene).
- Prior to the game, I sent out a Tweet Saturday pointing out that nine Team Canada West camp invitees were on the two teams last night. Funny how three of the Vees five invitees scored and four of the five got points in the win. Gabe Bast, Tyson Jost and Miles Gendron all scored and Demico Hannoun picked up an assist. The five Vees drove to Kelowna last night and flew out this morning to Calgary for the three-day camp. 65 players are vying for 22 spots on Team Canada West for the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, which runs December 14-20 in Kindersley, Saskatchewan.
- I mentioned something about the Vees capitalizing on the opportunities they were given and that’s exactly what they did on their second goal. Kings were slow to make a change as the Vees were coming back into the Powell River zone. Hannoun made a nice play on the boards to force the puck down low to Patrick Newell. Great vision by Newell to quickly spin a pass out of the corner, across the zone and right on the tape of a wide open Jost. Jost didn’t waste any time, as he rifled a one-timer off the Kings goalie’s arm and off the post and in. The sheer force of that shot got that puck to go in the net. An instance were the Vees capitalized on a rear mistake by the Kings. Another move on the chess board if you will.
- I talked about Miles Gendron scoring the third goal and it was a nice two-on-one rush between he and Jost. Gendron though is playing some outstanding hockey in the last few weeks and is going to the Team Canada West camp at the top of his game. Everyone knows about his phenomenal skating ability but the strides (ah, see what I did there?) he has made in his defensive game have been noticeable. He’s very good in front of his own net, as he seems to always be in the right spot, angling off forwards or using his stick to pry the puck free. On his goal that made it 3-0 and sealed the win, Gendron makes a great defensive play before the two-on-one rush developed. As Keats was coming around the net and up the boards, Gendron raced over and tracked him down and threw a shoulder into Keats to rub him out on the boards. Keats coughed up the puck and Gendron and Jost were off to the races against a tired Kings power-play unit. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Gendron return from that Canada West camp next week.
- Hey! Brendan Barry is 9-0-0. Yeah, that’s good eh? No, his workload wasn’t taxing but there were times when he had to make some quality saves. In particular, there was a nice sequence by him in the second period when the Kings were on the power-play. Barry came across to get his blocker on a Jarid Lukosevicius one-timer and then he got his arm on an in-close opportunity right on the doorstep. I want to say that was on Kurt Keats. Also, in the third period Barry made a point-blank save off of JJ Coleshaw with his right leg. Coleshaw was standing literally right on top of the crease, his toes in the blue and Barry had to lunge out with his leg to make the stop. When I watched the video, I don’t think Barry did in fact go down too early on the lone Kings goal. Jacob Pritchard just made one heckuva shot up high on the short side; through the eye of the needle. Pritchard had barely an opening but got it up and over Barry’s shoulder. Unfortunate not to get back-to-back shutout wins but Barry’s last two wins are against Langley and Powell River; those ain’t layups.