- To say the Vees wanted a win on Friday would be the biggest understatement of this season. The players were fired up, even in the morning game-day skate that took place earlier in the day. After the game Assistant Coach Nick Fuher, who runs the game-day skates, says they had some fire in their bellies. That was at 10:30 am. The Vees wanted to make amends for their last two outings in Merritt, where they lost 5-1 and 4-1 respectively. They got their revenge Friday.
- The Vees only had one game this weekend and they looked like a team with a free weekend. They pressed down on the gas pedal and never let up. They had a great jump off the start, scoring two goals just over four-minutes into the game, an early 13-3 shot advantage and were 1-1 on power-play; what else could you want? They had lots of speed and were aggressive on the fore-check, giving the Cents’ fits in their own zone. In all honesty, I think it was a minor victory for Merritt to come out of the first only down 2-0. The Vees left some goals on the table.
- That new look first line continues to roll, as Dakota Conroy, who’s been a play-maker of late, turned into a goal-scorer ninety-seconds into the game. What a play though by Patrick Newell who appeared to have eyes in the back of his head, to make that incredible reverse pass to Conroy. In full flight, Newell, who had everyone fooled, looked to be going around the net for a wraparound but instead turned his hands over and spun the puck back out front to Conroy for the quick one-timer. Cents’ goalie Jonah Imoo had no chance as he was still looking over his right-shoulder anticipating the wraparound when the pass was delivered back to Conroy. All the more impressive when you consider Newell is playing through injury but still manages to pull off a play like that.
- Conroy, Newell and Tyson Jost, the new “top-line,” combined for two goals and four points on Friday. Conroy swapped spots with Demico Hannoun on the right-wing and it’s been a pretty smooth transition. Conroy also made that nice pass on a two-on-one with Jost early in the second period. Nearly carbon copy of Jost’s goal Tuesday in West Kelowna where he scored on a two-on-rush with Conroy. Friday, like Tuesday, Conroy carried in on right-wing, showed shot but then put the puck over to Jost for the tap-in. The pass was nearly broken up by the Cents’ defenseman but it still skipped over to Jost for the Vees third goal; you know its your night when that happens. As I mentioned Conroy has been playing some terrific hockey of late and now has one goal and seven points in his last five games.
- Give Hannoun a lot of credit. He moved on a new line with Cody DePourcq and Mitch Newsome. Some players might have putted about being “taken off” the first-line but not “Nooner.” Hannoun simply has put up two goals and five points since his reassignment. He’s looked very good with DePourcq and Newsome, as the three play a heavy north-south game. Great bit of skill and strength from Hannoun on his goal on the power-play. As I said earlier this week, like the Seahawks Marshawn Lynch, Hannoun went into “Beastmode,” on the Vees second goal. He made a power move off the left-wing wall, forced his way to the middle and snapped a shot through traffic and over the goalie’s shoulder. After that, Hannoun was on a different level, playing with a ton of confidence as he had the puck on a string all night. After picking up just one assist in his previous six games, Hannoun now has two goals and five points in his last two. Put some tape over the “on switch” please.
- Great to see Riley Alferd finally break the slump. Alferd scored the Vees fourth goal and his first in 16 games and he picked the perfect time to score. Remember, eight-minutes earlier Merritt made it 3-1 and if the scored remained unchanged going into the intermission, they would have had some hope going into the third. Alferd dashed that with a great rush down the right-wing before cutting to the net and roofing a backhand short-side. That goal came with just over two-minutes left in the second period. I think that goal erased any doubt, no matter how little, if the Vees were going to win this game. 3-1 and the Cents’ might think they can get two within twenty-minutes and that’s quite possible but 4-1 and the shoulders sagged and the writing was one the wall. Not like Alferd was struggling during his dry spell but its huge for a goal-scorer to regain his confidence around the net and a pretty goal is even more beneficial. “Alfie” had 17 in his first 28 games but none in the next 16 but here’s hoping he can use Friday as a springboard for a late season run.
- Buried but how about Mike Lee, or should I say Mike L4e. Four assists for the Vees defenseman and a first start on Friday; in on every Vees goal. He saw the ice so well on Friday, as he was another weapon from the back-end. He was throwing out great passes or he was leading the charge and creating off the rush. The key to his strong play was him keeping his feet moving. Assistant Coach Nick Fuher touched on that post-game, saying the key to being dangerous from the blue-line is making plays at full speed and not gliding or standing still. He’s been a different player since the arrival of Shayne Gwinner and being paired with him. The two have formed some great chemistry and Lee is a much more confident player with Gwinner as his partner; well the kid never lacks confidence but he’s feeling it.
- Quickly want to praise the Vees penalty-kill for an underrated performance on Friday. The PK went 3-for-3 and killed-off penalties at key times. The most important penalty-kill sequence was midway through the second period. The Cents’ had scored four-minutes earlier to make it 3-1 and were on the power-play. A goal against there and it’s 3-2, with the opposition scoring back-to-back goals and this game could have gone in a completely different direction. Jack Ramsey was one of the Vees best PK’ers and was more than deserving of the Energy Player of the Game. He blocked quite a few shots and in crucial spots. The PK was aggressive because of performances like Ramsey’s along with Cam Amantea and Connor Chartier. Remember, the PK had allowed at least one goal against in the last three games but it wasn’t under performing just rotten luck. Friday though I think was reassuring for the PK guys, seeing their hard-work being rewarded.