- To put into perspective how strong the Vees defensive game has been this year, the Vees have compared the first 36 games this season, to the first 36 games of each of their last eight seasons. Here’s the results:
- 07/08 89 GA = 2.47 GAA (Won Fred Page Cup)
08/09 107 GA = 2.97 GAA
09/10 82 GA = 2.28 GAA
10/11 102 GA = 2.83 GAA
11/12 91 GA = 2.53 GAA (Won Fred Page, Doyle & RBC Cup)
12/13 87 GA = 2.42 GAA (BCHL Finalist)
13/14 89 GA = 2.47 GAA
14/15 70 GA = 1.94 GAA
- 07/08 89 GA = 2.47 GAA (Won Fred Page Cup)
- As the saying goes, defense wins you championships and the Vees seem to be trending in the right direction. What stands out for me is the fact the Vees this year are over a half a goal better defensively than their RBC Cup team from 2011-2012. That year they finished with a 2.12 goals-against average in the 60-game regular season. Not that far off the pace they’re at now but if they continue to trend in the direction they are, then they’ll come in well under that mark at the end of the regular season this year.
- January 10th card/ trade deadline is not too far away, actually two weeks exactly. What will the Vees do? Well, their big additions will be a somewhat full line-up when they hit the ice again on January 2nd. Remember, the Vees were without six regulars in their line-up for their last three games and were without five regulars for the last two weeks. Gabe Bast, Dante Fabbro, Demico Hannoun and Tyson Jost will be in the line-up next Friday when they host Vernon. Jack Ramsey should also be back from his upper-body injury, as he was skating back home in Minnesota during the Christmas break. Getting those five players back in the line-up feels like a mega deadline deal alone.
- Yes, there will be a log-jam on the blue-line when January 2nd roles around as the Vees will have eight healthy defensemen and room for just seven spots. Shayne Gwinner came in early December to help fill a void on the blue-line and has done a very good job in picking up the slack. What will the Vees do? No idea, but it’s at least created some healthy competition among the defense and forced regulars to elevate their game. The Vees coaching staff will have some tough decisions to make. They’re allowed to carry 23 until January 10th, when they have to finalize their final 22-man roster. That means taking Matt Serratore off of the Injury Reserve. The Vees play four games before the January 10th deadline rolls around. Time will tell.
- The Vees have a lot of depth upfront but despite being the second-highest scoring team in the BCHL (142 goals through 36 games), they haven’t necessarily been blowing teams out of the water. But when you’re the best defensive team in the BCHL as well, you don’t have to score a whole heck of a lot. Just look at the Vees scoring, they only have two player on a point per-game pace and that’s Dakota Conroy and Tyson Jost. Conroy has 12 points in 12 games and Jost has 25 points in 24 games. Riley Alferd and Patrick Newell are close with 35 points in 36 games and Demico Hannoun has 28 points in 30 games. When you look at the Vees scoring, you can easily draw the conclusion they don’t rely on just one line or a group of players to carry the mail; everyone has a part to play. Impressive that the Vees have nine players with 20 or more points this season. Good teams, championship contending teams, always boast depth and balanced scoring.
- We saw that depth rise to the occasion in the last two weeks when the Vees posted an impressive 2-1-2-0 record in the five games they were missing four at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge and another two on the shelf with injury. One player who rose to the occasion was Patrick Newell. He quietly has worked his way to second in team scoring, tied on points with Riley Alferd for the team lead (35). In the five games the Vees were missing all those players, Newell picked up four goals and seven points. He really made a mark in that home-and-home against West Kelowna, where he picked up five of his seven points in the weekend sweep. He had two helpers in the 4-2 win on Friday, December 19th and followed that up by scoring a hat-trick in the 7-2 thumping over West-K on Saturday, December 20th. Not bad considering Newell was battling what was a pretty nasty cold in the last week before the break. Newell had some great chemistry with Lewis Zerter-Gossage in the last two weeks and LZG’s numbers show that too. Zerter-Gossage had a monster weekend before the break, picking up four points in the two wins against the Warriors. LZG and Newell were a great combo that gave the Warriors fits. I wonder if they stay together when the reinforcements arrive. One more player to mention is Dakota Conroy, who was very noticeable in the last two weeks. He had four goals and six points in the five games the Vees were short-handed and he too had a big weekend against West Kelowna. In the final two games before the break, Conroy had two goals and four points. In fact, he had four goals in in the five games the Vees were missing all those players.
- I wonder what other teams in the Interior and around the BCHL are thinking. You see the Vees missing five regulars, then a sixth when Jack Ramsey got injured and think it is a great time to cut down their lead. Well, the Vees get points in all but one of their five games before Christmas and sweep the third place team in the Interior. They still have a 12 point lead on Vernon, who still have a game in hand on the Vees. Regardless, the Vees record afforded them a dip but they did a good job of treading water and keeping the rest of the Interior in the rear-view mirror.
- Switching gears, Arizona State University is making quite a splash in the recruiting world, as they’ve been getting commitments from prominent BCHL players. It was widely expected the Sun Devils would go hard after BCHL players when they announced the launch of their Division l NCAA Hockey program. Recently the Sun Devils have got commitments from West Kelowna’s Jordan Masters, Merritt’s Jake Clifford, Trail’s Charlie Zuccarini and most recently Victoria’s Brett Gruber. That’s a strong group so far and you know they’re not done adding to it. ASU looks like it’s quickly becoming an attractive program for aspiring college hockey players. A big school in Tempe, Arizona that already boasts great athletic and academic facilities. A great recruiting angle is playing hockey for an upstart program but the weather and location can’t hurt either. There’s still a few players in the BCHL that are uncommitted who could be targets for the Sun Devils. I’m sure these recent recruiting announcements have the tradition hockey schools a bit nervous. The one hang-up right now is a home for the hockey program, as their current facility won’t be suitable for Division l hockey. It sounds like they’ll play downtown at the NBA arena where the Phoenix Suns play but that’s not a permanent home. Once their arena logistics get sorted out, they’ll be challenging traditional hockey schools for top end recruits.