Post-Game #37: Vees Start off 2015 on Winning Note

Game Recap Jan 2

GAME STORY 

BOXSCORE 

  •  I spoke with both coaches prior to the game and both stressed puck management and minimizing mistakes as keys in the first game after Christmas break; both teams were playing their first game since December 20th. I don’t know if one team made fewer mistakes than the other bu I though the Vees made fewer mistakes at critical times. Look at the opening goal, as Cody DePourcq forced a turnover behind the Vipers net and then setup Demico Hannoun for what turned out to be the game-winning goal. Now, was that goal a result of the Vipers defender being a bit too nonchalant, or was it more due to the fore-check work of DePourcq? You could chalk it up in the mistake category and though the Vipers didn’t make a lot of errors in their own end, tonight was a night where one was one too many.
  • Hey, the Vees weren’t perfect, as they were a touch sloppy with the puck in their own end early in the first and late in the second period. But I didn’t really see any glaring mistakes or turnovers when they were inside their own blue-line. Yes, they were hemmed in on more than one occasion but when they were, they weren’t gifting the Vipers chances; pucks were kept to the outside for the most part.
  • Friday’s game had a feel of several mini-games wrapped into one. The Vipers had an early push-off the start, giving the Vees a real test in the first 12 minutes of the game, as the shots were 10-1 at one point for the Vipers. Then after a power-play late in the first, the Vees outshot the Vipers down the stretch 6-0 going into the first intermission. A bit of a role reversal in the second, as it was the Vees with the strong start. Connor Chartier, Mitch Newsome and Mike Lee all had great chances to score. But as the period wore on, the Vipers got better and forced the Vees into some turnovers late. In the third is where the Vees really buckled down, only surrendering eight shots and never really gave the Vipers a glaring scoring chance. I would score the first in favour of Vernon, split the second and give the Vees the edge in the third. Almost like it was three different games in one.
  • Not sure anyone else in Penticton has had a better 24 hours than Vees defenseman Gabe Bast. Thursday he officially committed to the University of North Dakota and then today picks up a goal and an assist in the Vees win; not bad for an 18-year-old. Bast had a great game and was one of the Vees best defenseman on Friday. Made a heckuva play on the Steen Cooper goal when the Vees went up 2-0. Just after a Vees power-play expired, Bast was pressured at the blue-line but kept the play alive by putting the puck back around behind the net. It eventually came back to him and he moved into space to get a wrist-shot off towards traffic in front of the Vipers net. Cooper was there for the tip and the Vees got some much-needed breathing room early in the third. Lots of poise shown by Bast, as instead of a panicked slap-shot into a shin pad, he moved into space and made sure to put the puck towards the net. Bast has this underrated ability to get pucks on net; a skill coaches rave about.
  • Bast might have scored one of the nicest empty-net goals you’re going to see this year-a bit odd to say that. With Vernon pressing, Bast quickly turned and spun a clearing attempt up off the side glass and past the Vipers point-man. Not only did he achieve his primary objective of just clearing the zone but Bast got a bonus when the puck rolled on end and curled into the net. Bast was standing just to the right of the left-circle in his own zone when he cleared the puck. Lucky to be good and good to be lucky.
  • I find myself saying this a lot this year but Hunter Miska was very good Friday. Miska picked up his BCHL-leading fourth shutout of the season making 30-saves, and if that wasn’t impressive enough, he picked up the only assist on the Vees third goal. Miska now owns a league-best .932 save-percentage and has only allowed six goals in five starts against Vernon. He’s perfect at home against Vernon this year, owning a pair of wins and two shutouts in as many starts; the Vees have outscored Vernon 4-0 at the SOEC this year. Including tonight, Miska is now 5-0-0 against Vernon, while sporting a 0.60 goals-against average and a sparkling .962 save-percentage.
  • The save I liked the most tonight by Miska was his pad stack save late in the second against the Vipers Riley Brandt. The Vipers broke in on a two-on-one but Miska came across (left-to-right) with his legs, kicking them out and stacking them up to deny Brandt’s back-door one-timer. Miska just gave off a very calm and confident vibe on Friday. You even saw it in warm-up and when I mentioned that after the game, one of the Vees coaches quickly corrected me and said he was like that even in practice this week. Dialed in.
  • For the Vipers, that new line of TJ Dumonceaux, Liam Coughlin and Thomas Aldworth were relatively quiet but for my money, their most consistent line was Riley Brandt, Colton McCarthy and Nic Rasovic. All three had at least one scoring attempt tonight. McCarthy ripped a shot off the cross-bar in the first, Brandt was stymied by Miska in the second and Rasovic had a shot from the slot just go up and over the net in the third. McCarthy was the most dangerous out of the three, as he used his size to create time and space. There was one sequence when McCarthy came down the middle of the zone, only to turn his back to the net to shield the back, before backing in then spinning and firing a shot that Miska had to make a challenging pad-save on.
  • It wasn’t like the Vipers played poor Friday, in fact they pushed the Vees more than once and turned in a pretty solid performance. The one thing the Vees did well was not allowing Vernon to attack the middle of the ice a lot. For the most part, the Vipers couldn’t get into that prime shooting area between the circles. They had shots from the wings and from the deep slot but few came from that in-close area; big credit to the Vees defense.
  • Impressive sequence in the first period when Tyson Jost was decked by Riley Guenther at centre ice but only to quickly get up and wallop Mackenize Bauer along the boards in the Vernon end. Jost showed a lot of toughness not only to shake the big hit off after he got caught with his head down but then to return the favour seconds later. Guenther is a tough customer and Jost, who’s just 16, showed he can hang in there with the best of them.
  • Demico Hannoun loves playing his former team. The ex-Viper scored his fourth goal in his fifth game against Vernon Friday; he now has five points in five games against his former mates. Hannoun has played with a bit more gumption when he’s line up against the Vipers. He scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in the second but was also great away from the puck. In particular he had two great back-checks, one in the first against Thomas Aldworth and one in the second where he threw down Mitch Meek. Guy had a fire lit under his rear-end.
  • Really liked the new line of Cam Amantea, Cody DePourcq and Connor Chartier. They weren’t sexy but rolled up their sleeves and put in work. A lot of their time was spent below the circles and around the net in the Vernon end, as all three hounded the puck carrier all night. DePourcq had a great fore-check to set up the Vees first goal and Chartier almost made it 2-0 in the second when he too forced a turnover right in front of the Vipers net.
  • Also should show Mitch Newsome some love. He looked right at home on a line with Riley Alferd and Jack Ramsey. Newsome almost scored early in the second period on a terrific passing play between he and his line-mates. If it wasn’t for a Viper sweeping the puck off the goal-line, I would have been writing about Newsome’s fifth goal of the year. Newsome also made a nice little play at his own blue-line to chip the puck out, which created a two-on-one rush for the Vees. The play ended with Jack Ramsey dishing to Riley Alferd, who just hammered a one-timer over the net.
  • The Vees now lead the season series 5-0-0 and are 2-0-0 at home this year against Vernon. In fact, the Vipers haven’t scored at the SOEC this year, as they’ve been outscored 4-0 in the two games in Penticton. The Vipers last scored in Penticton in game seven of last spring’s Interior Division Final but lets not go there.
  • After tonight, the Vees are now 24-2-1-0 when leading after two periods. That’s incredible. There only two losses came against West Kelowna, so they’re 24-0-1-0 when leading after two against teams not named the Warriors. It’s also automatic when they have a lead going into the third period.
  • It doesn’t get any easier Saturday when the Vees travel to Salmon Arm. the Silverbacks thumped the Warriors 7-1 Friday for their fourth straight win and now are within ear shot of the fourth and final playoff spot in the Interior. Entering Saturday’s action, the ‘Backs are now just six points back of Merritt for fourth and have a game in hand. All this happening with the ‘Backs having a handful of regulars out of the line-up. The two teams played to a thrilling 2-2 tie back on December 12th in Salmon Arm. Saturday is the fourth and final visit to the Shaw Centre in the regular season. The Vees are 3-0-1-0 against the ‘Backs this season.
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About CBeauchemin

Director of Broadcasting & Communication for the Penticton Vees
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