Vees Win WCC Round-Robin Finale; in Final?!?

Post Game_GM 4

Game Recap 

Boxscore 

2015 Western Canada Cup – Game 8 – Penticton Vees vs. Melfort Mustangs from Tyler King on Vimeo.

Fred Harbinson Post-Game 

Pat Newell Post-Game 

  • The Vees have booked a spot in the Western Canada Cup Final after a 3-1 win over the Melfort Mustangs on Wednesday evening in Fort McMurray. It was nice bounce back performance by the Vees, as they scored timely goals in the first and second periods and were really strong on the defensive side of things.
  • As talked about Tuesday, the coaching staff wasn’t happy about the teams’ battle, energy level in that Portage loss and the players received the message loud and clear, as they returned to form. The Vees played with quite a bit of urgency that was missing on Tuesday and they worked their tails off at both ends of the rink. That was key because the game took on that grinding, hard-fought type of feel; like a game seven. Every inch of ice was earned not given on Wednesday and the Vees did much better in the territorial battle.
  • The Vees got a break early in the first and didn’t waste it, as Daktoa Conroy opened the scoring just before the five-minute mark. Connor Chartier wound up for a shot in the slot but his stick broke, however the puck skidded over to Conroy who had an easy tap-in for his second goal of the tournament; an inadvertent back-door pass by Chartier. Timing was huge, as the ‘Stangs were pressing off the get go and just before that goal, Melfort had some good pressure in the Vees zone on the previous shift. That goal looked to have deflated Melfort somewhat and give the Vees a shot in the arm. They took off from there.
  • After Conroy broke the scoreless tie, the Vees were off to the races, as they got the transition game going and that created opportunities. They had a pair of breakaways as Demico Hannoun and Chartier found themselves one-on-one with Melfort goaltender Richard Palmer. Both times Palmer had an answer, first, he got the glove on Hannoun’s attempt and than he closed the wickets on Chartier’s five-hole attempt. The Vees were catching Melfort pinching up in the neutral zone and because of that, they were getting behind their ‘D’ but Palmer was there to bail out his team. If it wasn’t for him in the first, the lead would have been much bigger than just 1-0.
  • You can tell the Vees did their homework before the game. Melfort likes to play an up-tempo game that involves their defensemen being very active in the play down ice. They like to step up in neutral zone and join rush but when caught, it can lead to odd-man rushes the other way. The second Vees goal was a good example of that, as Pat Newell made a heck of a play at his own blue-line, chipping it past the defenseman and getting it out to centre. Newell pushed it to Hannoun and the Vees were breaking back on a two-on-one rush. Hannoun threads the needle to Newell and he got away from the hot glove-hand of Palmer, and threw the puck upstairs on the blocker-side. Smart by Newell, as the Vees were time and again, going glove-side on Palmer but he snagged them all. Newell tries blocker-side and wahla, he doubles the Vees’ lead early in the second.
  • Newell quietly has gone about a strong tournament, as he and three others are tied for the team scoring lead with six points. Newell was named the Player of the Game and it’s hard to argue otherwise. He has been so shifty in the offensive zone, making plays around the net and his play away from the puck has grown leaps and bounds. He’s been very effective at breaking up plays in his own end with his stick and positioning. Look, we all know he ain’t going to out-muscle guys but he can out smart them, and he’s doing that perfectly right now.
  • The Vees Wednesday won more with their work boots than finesse. This wasn’t a game won on skill but hard-work and effort. Great to see that from the Vees after it was sorely missing on Tuesday against the Terriers. Fred Harbinson had a blunt assessment after Tuesday’s loss but was quick to credit his team’s response on Wednesday; he knows how to push the buttons. This team is experienced enough and had been through enough already to know they couldn’t afford back-to-back sub par performances. They buckled down, got back to those “good habits” and rewarded themselves with a spot in the Western Canada Cup Final.
  • Speaking of bounce backs, the “Vitamin C” line was great after a so-so effort Tuesday. Chartier, Conroy and Steen Cooper combined for two goals and five points in the win over Melfort. Their best moment? The empty-net goal to seal the win. Defensive zone face-off with 24-seconds left in the game and clinging to a one-goal lead. Chartier wins the face-off clean back, then Cooper swings off the wall behind his net for the puck. Cooper curls out on the near-side and gets it out to centre. Conroy blocks the dump-in by Melfort and Chartier buries into the yawning cage. That was a set play drawn up at the bench when Melfort called their timeout. A really crafty play by three savvy, veteran players.
  • Remember when Chartier took his team off the power-play late in the third, when they were down a goal against Portage? Well, he gets the key assignment late to protect the lead, wins the draw and gets the empty-net goal. Redemption. Good for Charts’.
  • OK, whats what going into the weekend? Host broadcaster Tyler King laid it out on Twitter (read from the bottom up).

Tie-Breaker 2

Tie-Breaker 1

So, if the Portage Terriers win this afternoon, the Vees play Portage in the WCC Final and also automatically clinch a spot in the RBC Cup. If that doesn’t happen, it muddies the waters and as you can see, we get ourselves into some confusing tie-breakers. Basically, if I understand correctly, the Vees have assured themselves the second place seed at worst, regardless of what happens today; unless we see double-digits scores.

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About frodgers

Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations for the Penticton Vees
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