Mitch Newsome Triple-Overtime, Game-Winner.
(Courtesy of Jayson Moonie from the Vees Video Team)
- After the first seven-minutes, if you were to tell me this game would go to triple-overtime, I would have looked at you like you had a third eye. The Vees scored three times in the first seven-minutes, including twice in a hair under two-minutes to take an early and commanding 3-0 lead. But, like it always is with the Warriors, they never seem to go away and they rallied for three straight and forced overtime. Then another, and then another. Obviously the Vees would have rather won the game in regulation and not see their three-goal lead vanish but hey, they got the win, got a series lead and that’s all you can ask for at this juncture of the season.
- Just an incredible start for the Vees and an unnerving one for AP goaltender Stephen Heslop for the Warriors. The Warriors announced Scott Patton hurt himself in game two and was unable to dress in game three. Andy Desautels is back but not healthy enough to play, so the Warriors turned to Princeton Posse goaltender Stephen Heslop. His Posse were knocked out of the KIJHL Jr. ‘B’ playoffs nearly two weeks ago and hasn’t played since. Imagine getting that call from the Warriors, asking to start in their biggest home game this season to date. Heslop did play in six regular season games for West Kelowna but that still isn’t the pressure cooker of the post-season. He looked nervous early and the Vees capitalized scoring three goals in the first seven-minutes; Jack Ramsey scoring on the game’s first shot. I think every felt for Heslop early on but credit the kid for buckling down and putting that rough start behind him.
- The Vees offense came to life-and early. As mentioned, Ramsey scored 16-seconds in and then Dakota Conroy and Tyson Jost scored 1:59 apart and both by redirecting point-shots from in front of the net. Nice to see the Vees players take their message to heart, as they went to the net, stood in the tough areas, got traffic to the goal and were rewarded with three first period goals. Turns out they wouldn’t score for the next 103-minutes but it was what they wanted from their offense.
- That’s back-to-back overtime games that the line of Cody DePourcq, Mitch Newsome and Matt Serratore have been on the ice for the game-winner. In game two, it was Serratore banging a loose puck past a surprised Scott Patton. One game later, in triple-overtime, Newsome roofs a puck from the bottom of the circle, after DePourcq’s pass from behind the net hit a skate in front. In fact, by watching the video, it looks like DePourcq’s pass was intended for Serratore but it went right off his skate, but luckily Newsome was right there to end it. That line was the Vees best since the first overtime started, as they brought a lot of energy and never seemed to tire out; the three have an engine that never quits.
- The Vees coaches will be thrilled with how the team persevered and didn’t let the game get away from them. Yes, that third period wasn’t their best and certainly they know they have to better with the lead going forward. The Vees started the third period up 3-1 but an early West Kelowna goal put them on their heels. Kylar Hope made it 3-2 just over two-minutes in and the Warriors smelt blood. Wacky goal too and one Hunter Miska would like a mulligan on. Miska fumbled the shot from the right-wing and the puck got all twisted up in his equipment, in the crease. The puck eventually squirted loose and Hope skated in and tapped it in. That goal was like an adrenaline shot for West Kelowna, as they kept pressing and eventually tied it a handful of minutes later. Rylan Yaremko made a nice move on the left-wing, got around a Vees defenseman and then tucked the puck around a prone Miska just before the seven-minute mark. The Tribe scoring twice in four and a half minutes, which nearly blew the roof off Royal LePage Place. That third period was likely the best any teams has done against Penticton this season in a period. West Kelowna in general had a strong game, their best of the series, but that third was the exclamation point.
- I mentioned Miska wanting a Mulligan on one, maybe two of the Warriors goals Friday but he turned his game around in the overtime sessions-big time. You got that sense from him that he was ticked off that those goals went in, the way they did and was going to do everything in his power to make sure the Vees won that game. Right away, in the first overtime, Miska did the splits and made a big glove-save off of Jason Cotton from between the circle; Miska gave it the old “how do you do” for good measure. After seeing that, you had a feeling Miska was “in the zone” in overtime and the Vees were in good hands. That game showed why Miska is a leader and the team’s MVP. No, he didn’t have a stellar first three periods but when the game was on the line, he was there to shut the door and if it wasn’t for him, this game would have gone to West Kelowna. Miska made eye-popping saves on Cotton, Brett Mennear, Liam Blackburn and Kylar Hope. Miska also had a great pad(s) save on Cotton in double-overtime. He came across and did the splits, after Cotton tried to out wait the Vees goalie on a deke. Did he actually face 82-shots or was the shot clock a bit trigger happy? Regardless he did face a lot of rubber and he put on a goaltending clinic in the three overtime periods. After the dust settled, Misk’ had a .963 save-percentage, 9-6-3, in game three.Wow. Good thing he got a fresh set of pads, because if he was wearing his old ones, they likely would have fallen off. Turn to dust.
- The only noticeable sore spot in the Vees game on Friday was their power-play. It went 0-6 and had two cracks in the first two overtime periods but came away empty-handed. In chatting with Assistant Coach Steve Cawley on the post-game show, he said they were maybe just over thinking things, forcing passes that weren’t there and not making the best decisions with the puck. Their second overtime power-play, their sixth of the night, was their best. They seemed to show a little more urgency on that one and almost won the game but Tyson Jost rattled a shot off the post. Going forward, the Vees are going to have to find a way to get more shots to the net with their power-play; grip it and rip it.
- The Vees defense turned in a herculean like effort on the blue-line. Mike Lee went down with a lower-body injury late in the second, so the Vees were forced to play with five defensemen for the entire third period and three overtime periods; 69-minutes with five defensemen. They basically played an entire BCHL regular season game that went to double-overtime, with just five defensemen. Patrick Sexton, Gabe Bast, Dante Fabbro, Miles Gendron and Jarod Hilderman ate up some big, hard and taxing minutes down the stretch and in the OT’s. Sexton blocked a ton of shots, as he was a second goalie at times. Bast also stepped in front of a lot of rubber, including a sequence at the end of the second overtime, where he laid in front of two-three Liam Blackburn shot attempts. Fabbro just eats minutes, takes hits but most importantly kept making plays. Miles Gendron and Jarod Hilderman continue to take steps in the right direction, as those two are really blossoming here in the post-season. Gendy had two chances in the overtime periods to win the game and Hilderman will have two assists besides his name, when scoring changes are submitted.
- Not only did these teams play five and a half periods but they played 309-minutes of tough, bruising hockey. It was nasty out there at times; you could feel the disdain they had for one another. I openly asked during overtime, not matter who wins, would there be any momentum carried over to game four, given the fact everyone was tired? Then when talking with Coach Cawley, he made an astute observation, noting how much the Warriors top players played. The Vees to their benefit rolled four lines consistently and right through to the end. The Warriors did cut their bench short, I don’t think their fourth line had a shift in the last two OT’s, maybe all three. Their top two lines ate up a lot of the time in the overtime periods and a guy like Andrew Johnson, who took practically every key draw from the third period on, played around 45-50 minutes. No joke. I would say the Vees should be the fresher team heading into game four, considering how well they spread the minutes around. How much gas to the Warriors top-six have?
- So, that was 109-minutes of hockey, with both teams combining for 133 shots. That’s a tough act to follow in game four.