Well that first period was nothing like the first we saw Wednesday back in Penticton. Friday the Vees came out with a full court press, taking it to the Express right from the start and peppered their net with 21 shots. Remember, the Vees had 29 shots total on Wednesday. Friday the practically spent the entire first period in the Express zone and the Express didn’t get their second shot on net until past the 11-minute mark of first. Not sure what was put in the water bottles tonight but it worked.
Despite all the dominance in the first, it took a goalie gaffe to get the Vees on the scoresheet. Odd play, as The Express goalie, Chris Tai, mishandled a dump in by Riley Alferd. With Jack Ramsey barreling down on the net, Tail went to go freeze the puck but flat-out missed it. Ramsey whiffed on one swipe attempt but eventually raked the puck into the open net. Wasn’t how they drew it up but it worked.
Despite that gaff, Tai was the reason why the score wasn’t lopsided. He faced a ton a rubber and yes at times looked uncomfortable but still made some great saves. Give the guy credit, he turned aside 49 shots! He likely needed an IV drip and ice bath after that one.
Hunter Miska, was doing Hunter Miska things. ho-hum, his 21st win.
Nice to see the power-play success carry over from Wednesday. The Vees scored twice Wednesday and scored two more power-play goals on Friday. I thought the two power-play goals in the latter half of the first really put the Vees in the driver seat. The first goal given up was deflating for Coquitlam but any chance of a response was wiped out by Gabe Bast’s and Lewis Zerter-Gossage’s power-play tallies. Three-zip late first and you had that feeling the Vees were on their way.
There’s more to like from those two goals besides the fact they were scored on the power-play. Bast made a simple but effective play, as he got the puck to the net from the point and it winded up in the back of the net. From our broadcast location, we have a direct view down to that Express net and we could see the Bast shoot all the way. Puck came back to him, he didn’t try to hammer it, rather get it through and make something happen. The shot, low, ended up catching a piece of the defenders skate and went underneath Tai. Like I’ve said a million times before, Bast has this uncanny ability to gets pucks through from the point. Highly valued skill for defensemen at this level.
On LZG’s goal to make it 3-0, I loved the strength and poise he showed. Zerter-Gossage looked very confident on Friday and worked extremely well with Dakota Conroy and Mitch Newsome, but on his goal it was all him. Dante Fabbro gave Zerter-Gossage a bit of a lead past and then he went from blue-line to blue-line, before cutting in on the right-side and ripping one top corner. Zerter-Gossage showed a lot of poise by making smart reads with the puck and evaded defenders so well. He, along with Conroy and Newsome were puck hounds and that line really played a heavy game that gave the Express fits.
Gabe Bast and Dante Fabbro looked like their typical selves on Friday. Both would admit they had off games on Wednesday but they rebounded nicely. They looked confident and poised and were dialed right in. Bast rolled up his sleeves in the defensive zone and was a rock in front of his own net. Fabbro was noticeably engaged and was having a hay day shooting the puck from the blue-line. Yep, quite a few were blocked but at least Fabbro was continuing on with the attempts. I chatted with him on the bus after the game and he said he needs to shoot more. Look for him to pull that trigger more frequently starting tomorrow against PG.
The Vees had the puck on their stick for most of the night because of their face-off dominance. The Vees owned the circle on Friday and when you keep winning face-offs you keep starting with the puck. The Vees didn’t have to chase the game on Friday, they were able to set the tempo because they won draw after draw.
To touch on the Vees fourth goal, Tyson Jost showed not only his skill set but strength. He came down the middle on a one-on-one with the defenseman. His initial attempt was blocked in skates and then a couple other Express players arrived on the scene and you thought that was that. Not so, Jost showed his puck protection skills, as he got the puck out of a crowd and then spun and fired a rocket to the top corner from the right-circle. Impressive. A lot of players wouldn’t be able to regroup that quickly, let alone regain the puck and have the poise to blindly turn and fire a laser over the goalie’s shoulder. Not too shabby.
In regards to the CJHL-BCHL roster deadline today, here’s what Fred Harbinson told the Penticton Herald, “I’m not answering my phone. We’ll be getting (Matt) Serratore back soon. That’s our deadline acquisition.” There you go. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.