- For the second time in four years, the Penticton Vees have lifted the Ron Boileau Trophy has BCHL Regular Season Champions. The Vees clinched the BCHL regular season pennant with their win in Trail, combined with Nanaimo’s loss to Vernon earlier Saturday night. The last time the Vees won the BCHL pennant was 2012 and that’s also the last time an Interior team finished on top. Saturday marked the 12th time in franchise history the Vees have finished first overall. More importantly, the Vees now have home ice advantage throughout the BCHL Fred Page Cup playoffs. Important considering they’re 21-3-1-0 at the SOEC with four home games remaining on their schedule.
- Fitting the Vees clinched the Ron Bolieau Trophy in Trail considering how much grief Cominco Arena has given the Vees in the last few seasons; always bounce away from disaster. Also fitting how the Vees clinched, rallying back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits, as this team, despite what their record will tell ya, has overcome adversity more than once this year. Down 2-1 four-minutes into the third period, the Vees scored four unanswered, including the game-tying and game-winning goals three and a half minutes apart.
- The line of Riley Alferd, Steen Cooper and Jack Ramsey were on fire in the third, as they combined for three goals and eight points in 12-minute stretch. Alferd assisted on goals two through four, finishing with three assists. Cooper scored back-to-back goals in three and a half minutes and Ramsey scored the Vees fifth goal, via the empty-net and chipped in with two assists as well. The three ate up a lot of time in the offensive zone and had the puck on a string the way they were moving it around deep in the Trail end. I really liked Alferd’s game, as he had great vision on all three goals but especially the fourth goal, which was the nail in the coffin. He made a couple moves just below the left-wing extended goal-line, then spun a fired a pass right on the tape of Cooper alone in front, who one-timed the puck five-hole on Brett Clark.
- Cooper showed why he such a smart hockey player on both his third period goals. The third goal, he makes a nice defensive play in his own zone, settling the puck down and then out letting it to a streaking Gabe Bast. Cooper doesn’t admire his great pass but rather takes off up the middle of the ice. Cooper knew Bast was shooting, so he made a b-line to the net and was all over the rebound that came off the goalie’s pad. Then, on the fourth goal, again Cooper saw what Alferd was doing in the left corner and splipped into a soft area of coverage right in front of the Trail net for the tap-in.
- Vees Co-Captain Patrick Sexton likely has played his best two games of the season this weekend. He was outstanding Friday against Nanaimo, as the coaching staff thought that was his best game to date, then Saturday he was at it again, being physical and a steady presence in the Vees end. Sexton obliterated Jacob Hanlon of Nanaimo Friday night with a hit at the blue-line and he delivered a similar hit to Trail’s Jordan Passmore Saturday. This time Passmore was moving down the boards on the right-wing but Sexton crunched in up against the glass; Passmore was doubled over after. Sexton, in a rink that makes it hard on defensemen to make plays, was so poised in his own end Saturday. If there was an errant pass or a bad bounce, he was there to pickup his teammate and get the puck out. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said post-game the coaches see how well he’s playing and are now giving him more ice-time against the opposition’s top forwards. The playoffs are just around the corner and Paddy is rounding into form.
- 31-saves will be a miss leading stat line for Hunter Miska but he was given the first star and for good reason. When the game was tied 1-1 late in the second period, Miska made a flurry of acrobatic saves, including one without his glove, as it was knocked off his hand. I mean Miska was lunging left and right, kicking out one-timers and was reacting to tipped pucks in front; even laying out on a scramble or two. The Vees were hanging on late in the second but Miska was there to pick up his teammates to give them the opportunity to turn it around in the third. No Miska, no third period rally.
- How about Miska’s goalie partner Saturday? No, it wasn’t Brendan Barry who didn’t make the trip because of an illness. It was Mitch Newsome, yes, Mitch Newsome backing up Miska. The Vees were in a bind and couldn’t find an AP goalie in time, so they used Newsome, a former goalie in his minor hockey days, as the backup. His teammates gave him the rookie treatment by letting him skate a lap solo as the team was coming on the ice. Newsome made some nice saves, in warm-up, and luckily didn’t have to come into the game. At the end of the day, it will be a great story Newsome can tell his family and friends back home in Surrey this summer.