(Photos: Andy Devlin, Hockey Canada Images)
- The Vees had a knack of bouncing back all season and they showed it again today at the RBC Cup. After a 3-2 loss to Portage Saturday, the Vees bounced back with a solid 60-minute effort, shutting out the Melfort Mustangs 4-0. We’ve seen it against West Kelowna, Vernon, Nanaimo and now here in Portage la Prairie.
- Vees scored first again but unlike Saturday, they were able to build upon their lead. What they were missing Saturday against Portage was the ability to score then add to it. That’s why Jack Ramsey’s goal was huge at the end of the first period. Not only did he score late but he makes it 2-0 with less than four-minutes left in the period. 2-0 after one feels a whole lot better than just leading by a goal. Remember, the Vees limited Melfort to just four first-period shots and I think they might have been frustrated if they were just up 1-0 at the break. That 2-0 goal was some vindication for the hard-work they put into that period.
- Cody DePourcq. Kid plays his first game in three weeks and almost, ALMOSSSSTTTTT, scores on his first shift. Got the puck in front, had the goalie down but skied his shot over the net. Hey, even the goal judge flicked on the light for a second. Quick back story, as I half-jokingly said DePourcq was going to score the Vees first goal today-Video Coach Matt Miller can verify that. Regardless, DePourcq AND Cam Amantea provided a noticeable boost to the line-up and they played very well to boot. Such a difference when you have a couple of veterans added to your line-up. That line of DePourcq, Amantea and Mitch Newsome provided a lot of energy and quality minutes.
- How good have the Vees first periods been? Through two games they’ve outscored their opponents 3-1 and out shot them 31-16. Starts clearly aren’t an issue with this team but are a big key to their success. If you include the BCHL playoffs, the Western Canada Cup and now the RBC Cup, the Vees are 10-0-0 when leading after one; 3-4-0-1 when trailing. Again, that’s why the two first period goals were key, not only to get ahead but stay ahead heading into the intermission.
- Have you seen a team his more posts in just two games? Five, through two games now. The Vees cranked two posts today, Gabe Bast in the first and Connor Chartier in the second. If my counting is correct, I have the Vees hitting four posts whilst on the power-play. Just think if the shot was an inch to the left, right or down, the Vees power-play could be 4-10 and not just 1-10; some perspective. Hey, they finally got a PP goal in the second when Chartier poked in a rebound in the crease. Funny, that the goal that breaks the goose-egg on the power-play comes inside the crease and on effort and not skill; how she goes sometimes. On the flip side, the penalty-kill has been excellent early on in this tournament. The Vees are 8-9 through two games, including going 4-4 this afternoon.
- Goes without saying when you get a shutout, especially at this stage of the game, it was a strong defensive performance. Hey, that’s a league champion the Vees shutout; no easy feat. The defense stood up the Melfort forwards, as they didn’t allow them to penetrate the middle and the forwards back tracked well, as they Vees held their shape nicely in their own end. Not a lot of threatening looks in front of Miska but when there was a chance, he was there making a save. Melfort did have some pressure late, especially when they finished the game on the power-play but Miska made some nice saves through traffic and off scrambles. He had a nice shoulder stop on a point-blank chance by Dexter Bricker too.
- A follow to last night’s comments on my broadcasting issues and that’s a big thank you to the engineering staff at the rink and Hockey Canada staff for being all over the issues and finding a solution. We didn’t have a phone line for our broadcast yesterday but today there was an engineer at the rink first this morning when I got there working on a solution. Sure enough, everything was good to go well before puck drop. Like I said before, it’s been a great group of people to deal with here at the RBC Cup so far.