Patrick Sexton was playing game 300 of his junior career Saturday and wanting nothing more to get to 301. He got his wish.
The Vees Co-Captain was excellent and so too were all the Vees veteran players in the 5-1 win in game six. Just look at who scored for the Vees. 21-year-olds Connor Chartier and Cam Amantea scored the first three goals and 20-year-old Dakota Conroy scored the fourth goal. That’s leadership.
Steen Cooper also had a whale of game sliding in on the second line with Chartier and Conroy; That new look line showed it’s age and in a good way. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley raved about those and their consistency.
Hunter Miska, was Hunter Miska. The best thing for him was stopping Liam Coughlin on a short-handed breakaway. Coughlin tried to out-wait Miska with a fore-hand deke but the Vees goaltender lunged out and got a toe on the shot. That was midway through the first and kept the game scoreless before Chartier made it 1-0 on the power-play. Miska stopped 36 of 37 and you had that feeling “he was back.”
You want to average one power-play goal per game in the playoffs and the Vees got it. Odd sequence leading up to the goal. The first unit and the Vipers PK was fighting the puck, as it was like a pinball in the neutral zone. The Vees finally got the second unit out and Cody DePourcq made a heckuva pass to Chartier. Little saucer pass on his tape and at full speed. Chartier now has seven goals in eight games. You could argue he’s the Vees playoff MVP.
Back-to-back games the Vees scored three times in the second. Amantea scores twice in four minutes and Conroy adds one late. Amantea, some may have not known, has a really underrated shot; he can pick the corners. Vees see it in practice and we all got to see it Saturday. His first was on another beautiful setup by Depourcq, this time from behind the net and then his second off the rush on a neat dish from Tyson Jost. His second crucial, as he scored as a Viper was stepping out of the penalty-box. Amantea now has three goals in five games. More depth scoring. He’s authoring quite the playoff story. Injuries have plagued him but now hes feeling the best he has in awhile
and now is contributing.
Penalty-kill. Critical 5-on-3 that was killed off in the second. In short succession Sexton, Gabe Bast and Miles Gendron (10-minute misconduct) were sent to the box. All three are regular PK guys. Vernon had a two man-advantage for nearly 90-seconds. This in the second with the Vees up 3-0. Vipers score there and who knows what happens. Huge sequence and a key to the win.
Pat Newell scored the Vees first third period goal to make it 5-1. The Vees were outscored 7-0 in the third period of this series before that goal. Granted two of those goals were empty-netters. That was huge. That goal snuffed out any Vernon thought of a comeback. Demico Hannoun was all-world on that shift. He battled for the puck at his blue-line and then dove to poke it to Newell for the breakaway. Hannoun hasn’t been scoring the last two games but his commitment to his own end has been second to none. Take care of your own end and the rest will take care of itself.
Excellent effort to get to game seven but it’s not over. Nine returnees learned that lesson last year when the Vees lost game seven. They have to seize the moment, embrace it. Hopefully the Vees can feed off of an electric atmosphere at the SOEC.