Fred Page Cup GM 6-Full Highlights
Dakota Conroy Post-Game
Patrick Sexton Post-Game
Fred Harbinson Post-Game
- So, that was something wasn’t it? Dakota Conroy’s name will now be part of Penticton Vees history. The 20-year-old Edmonton, Alberta, native scored just two-minutes into overtime in game six, as the Vees won the 2015 Fred Page Cup Championship in dramatic fashion. Conroy was one of the Vees best forwards down the stretch in this series and finished with two points in the game six win. Night’s like Friday, was exactly why the Vees went out and traded for his CJHL rights in October. Conroy brought a lot of experience and poise to the Vees line-up and it showed in the Fred Page Cup Final.
- How about the comeback? The Vees are the first team since 2004 (as far back as the BCHL records go on their website) to overcome a 2-0 series deficit in the Fred Page Cup Final. In 8 of the last 11 BCHL Finals, one team had gone up 2-0 in the series and all eight times they won the Cup. Until this year. Look at the situation that the Vees were facing. Down 2-0 and going back to Nanaimo for games three and four, needing at least one win and against a team that was 9-1 at home in the playoffs going into the Final. They did what no team could accomplish in the previous 11 years, and did it in the rink of the team that had the best home record in the BCHL playoffs. Chew on that for a bit.
- Taking the comeback a step further, the Vees up until the BCHL Final, had not won a game in Nanaimo since November of 2011. Between then and the Fred Page Cup, the Vees had gone 0-3-0-2 in five games (one of those was a round-robin game). The Clippers were nearly unbeatable at home this year, posting a 30-6-0-3 record at Frank Crane Arena, if you including the regular season and the first three rounds of the BCHL playoffs. AND…the Clippers had only lost back-to-back homes games once in the regular season and never lost three in a row. So with that stacked up against the Vees, what do they do? Well, they promptly sweep the three games in Nanaimo, including the Cup-clinching game six. The Vees outscored Nanaimo 11-8 in their own rink in the three games and won twice in overtime. That’s pretty incredible. Oh, remember, the Vees had to win those three games without their Co-Captain and one of their best two-way forwards in Cody DePourcq.
- Speaking of injuries, the Vees won this series despite missing DePourcq for games three through six and Lewis Zerter-Gossage since game seven against Vernon. Remember, Zerter-Gossage had six points in 11 playoff games before his upper-body injury and finished tied for second in team scoring in the regular season with 46 points in 57 games. To illustrate my point, I think you can compare DePourcq and Zerter-Gossage, to Spencer Hewson and Devin Brosseau. DePourcq and Hewson are both undersized but high-energy, hard-working forwards, that both play center and both are prominent penalty-killers. Brosseau and Zerter-Gossage are both lanky wingers that have a nice mix of size and skill and can play anywhere in the top nine. Brosseau nearly averaged a point per-game with the Clips’, notching 33 in 34 games in a shorten season due to injury. So from a Clippers perspective, it would be like them trying to win the league final without Brosseau and Hewson; not easy. Just one more obstacle the Vees overcame in this series.
- Circling back to Conroy, he was the player the Vees thought he could be when they pulled the trigger on the Liam Finlay trade with Vernon. Looking back at that trade, it worked out for both parties very well. Finlay goes to Vernon, ends up leading them in scoring in the regular season, with 64 points in 55 games and was the Interior Division nominee, for the BCHL Rookie of the Year Award. Conroy, whose rights went to Penticton in the trade, picked up 28 points in 33 regular season games and then another 18 points in 22 playoff games; third-best on the team. Oh, yes he scores the Fred Page Cup winning goal in overtime as well. Pretty good trade for both parties indeed. Conroy really stepped up his play in games three through six of the series. In those four games he had a goal and six points and the goal, was the “THE GOAL.” He made a heckuva pass on the Dante Fabbro 1-0 goal in game six and then in overtime he snags a loose puck off the face-off and makes a nice move on Decelles for the
- Steen Cooper. Loves that Island air. Broadcast partner Trevor Miller had that astute observation during the series. Hey, the number don’t lie, as Cooper had three goals and four points in the three games in Nanaimo. Though he didn’t show up on the scoresheet in game six, Cooper was a beast, as he was double shifting between the second and fourth line from the late in the second period and on. He worked his butt off in this series and was a force on both side of the puck . Glad his line was on the ice when the Vees won in OT. Sweeter for “Coop” that he won the Cup on the Island, considering he grew up 45-minutes down the road in Duncan. He had a ton of family and friends at the game; good for him.
- One more forward I should touch on is Riley Alferd. He had goals in back-to-back games in games five and six, that after being held pointless in the previous seven playoff games. I thought his line, with Jack Ramsey and Matt Serratore were the most consistent lines for the Vees in games four, five and six. Alfie scored that dramatic game-winning goal in game five and then almost had the game-winner in game six. Still, he scored both his goals of the series in the third period and at critical times. I think those goals were an extra boost of confidence, after maybe starting to grip the stick a bit tightly. You could see that confidence in game six, with that sweet move he did on his goal to make it 2-1. He probably wouldn’t have pulled off something like that earlier in the series. The Vees will need his line to keep it going at the Western Canada Cup.
- Hunter Miska. He had to deal with some bad bounces and odd plays in the final two games but managed to put it behind him and win both. It was a best-of-three finish and the Vees swept it and thanks in part to Miska’s perseverance. Most goalies likely would have folded after what he went through in the last two games. He has that puck-playing gaffe in game five that resulted in the Clippers taking a 2-1 lead into the third. But he put that behind him, stopped every shot he faced down the stretch and the Vees came from behind and won 3-2. In game six, he gets scored on twice in the third, when the Vees held two separate one-goal leads, and on two rotten-luck-type-of-bounces. After the Vees go ahead 1-0, Nanaimo scored just 14-seconds later on a bizarre bounce. Spencer Hewson’s shot eventually goes up off Miska, high in the air, then it comes down and trickles down his back and in. Pardon? Then when the Vees were leading 2-1 late, the puck squirts out of the Vees corner, bounces in front, and on an in-between hop, Brett Roulston smacks the puck five-hole. 2-2. What? Like I’ve said before, Miska has a strong mental makeup and he clearly didn’t let those two goals rattle him. In OT, he actually made a clutch save on the only Clippers shot. It was a 3-on-2 for the Clips and Corey Renwick was open in the slot but Miska made the butterfly save and with traffic all around him. I think that save was overlooked when you look back at game six. In the end, he got the job done, winning both games five and six and posted a 1.97 goals-against average and a .927 save-percentage in the two wins. Clutch.
- Credit has to go to the Vees blue-line as well, as they were pretty solid in the final two games of the series. The Vees defensively only allowed fours against in the final two games, not bad after allowing five in game four alone. Gabe Bast, Miles Gendron and Mike Lee really stepped up their game after having some struggles, at different points in the series. All six defenseman pulled their weight and that’s why they have the Fred Page Cup in their dressing room.
- The Vees played nine overtime games in their Fred Page Cup run. That’s a lot of extra hockey, considering they played 22 games. They were a very impressive 6-3 in those nine games and won back-to-back OT games on the road in the Final. In all they played five games that ended in the first OT period, three that went to double-overtime and one that went to triple overtime. If you add it all up, they probably played closer to 24-25 playoff games if not more. All that OT but the three OT’s in the Final, combined, was just 3:23 in length. Winning goals coming 20 seconds, 57 seconds and 2-minutes into the first overtime periods.
- Speaking of OT, Tyson Jost scored 57-seconds into OT in game three to get the Vees back in the series. Think about that for a second. The Vees, at that point, were one shot away from going down 3-0 in the series.
- I’m happy for all 21 players and the AP’s who helped win this Cup for the Vees, but there is a
couplefew I would like to single out individually. Starting with Co-Captain Cody DePourcq. The Penticton kid had his junior career ended abruptly with that jaw injury but he still managed to have a presence within the dressing room. He was in attendance in game five, which no doubt gave the Vees an emotional boost and was in constant contact with his teammates in some shape or form, mostly through text. His injury was a rallying cry, as his teammates wanted to make sure they brought the Cup home to a guy who literally sacrificed himself for his team. DePourcq is a guy that everyone in the room looks up to, the pulse engine, and it’s great to see his teammates rally behind his injury. I know they hung his jersey on the door in the dressing room before every game, as it acted as a constant reminder to the players, on what they needed to do when they stepped on the ice. Also, in a very classy gesture, Paddy Sexton brought out DePourcq’s jersey from the dressing room for the Fred Page Cup ceremony. I’m sure that meant a lot to Cody and his Family back in Penticton. Speaking of Sexton, his final season of junior hockey, the grizzled veteran finally gets his name on the Cup. The guy has played well over 300 junior games now between Ontario and BC but never got out of the first round of the playoffs until he came to Penticton last year. This was his first league final and his last one and he made it count. I’ve since watched the post-game celebration on video and you can see how much that win meant to Paddy; one of those moments that won’t leave your memory any time soon. Also I’m thrilled for Cam Amantea. The guy has gone through a lot of sh*t. He’s had both his shoulders operated on and gutted out that grueling rehad and has played more games hurt than healthy, yet never lets you see that on his face. The kid is one of the positive individuals I’ve been around, always smiling, laughing and keeping the mood light. When he’s on the ice, he’s going 100 percent that’s happening where he makes his living; in the dirty areas. Amantea, outside of DePourcq, was the only other Vee that was on the 2013 team that lost in overtime, in game six, to Surrey in the BCHL final. Two years later, two surgeries, rehab, ice bags and lots of pain, he’s lifting a Fred Page Cup over his head. Speaking of come backs, how about Matt Serratore? He broke his ankle earlier this year, missing two months of action but came back and now is a Fred Page Cup champion. He almost won the game before Conroy did, as Serratore had a shot from the slot that just missed-just.
- I could go on and on about how many guys deserved this Cup but that’s the point. There’s so much character on this team and that’s a big reason why they’re Fred Page Cup champions.