(Photos: Andy Devlin, Hockey Canada Images)
John Grisdale Interview
Pat Newell Interview
- The Penticton Vees finished the round-robin at the RBC Cup with a 5-2 win over a pesky Soo Thunderbirds squad. Pat Newell led the way for the Vees, scoring twice and finishing with four points and they got singles from Steen Cooper, Dakota Conroy and Tyson Jost. The Vees did built up a 3-0 lead before Brett Jeffries scored back-to-back goals for the Soo to make it 3-2. Jost and Conroy then scored back-to-back power-play goals to ice things in the third period.
- At the time, the Vees moved into first place in the standings with nine points, but Portage won their round-robin finale tonight 3-2 over Melfort and have clinched top spot in the standings. So, the Vees finished second and play the Carleton Place Canadians in the 2 vs. 3 Semi-Final on Saturday, May 16th, at 2 pm CT / 12 om PST. The Portage Terriers face the Melfort Mustangs at 7 pm CT / 5pm PST on Saturday night in the 1 vs. 4 Semi-Final.
- Need tickets? If you’re a traveling Vees fan (parent, family member or avid supporter) you can get your hands on some Semi-Final tickets. Word came down that a block of 100 tickets will be released on Friday morning at 8:30 am and will be up for grabs on a first come, first serve basis. All you have to do is go down to the PCU Centre box office at the rink here in Portage la Prairie, or phone their administration office (204) 239-1520. All you have to do is say your looking for the Vees block of tickets for the Semi-Final game. Of course, if you’re not in Portage la Prairie, you can listen to the game on EZ Rock AM 800, http://www.penticton.myezrock.com, or watch online at http://www.hockeycanada.ca/rbccup.
- OK, the interview with Commissioner John Grisdale is above and there is a few nuggets to breakdown. One, Wenatchee is just waiting for the stamp of approval from Hockey Canada but as Commish Grisdale says above, it’s merely a formality, as BC Hockey approved it last week. So, they’re in, but where will they play? The Wenatchee Wild will play in the Mainland Division for the 2015-2016 season, then realignment will be looked at next off-season; the Wild could be in the Interior for 2016-2017. What about imports? As the Commish revealed, they’ve come out with an import formula, as the Wild will have Washington, Missouri, California and Colorado as their branch. So, that’s where they can get their underage players from, the 16 and 17 year-olds which wouldn’t count as imports. Grisdale says under USA Hockey, they’re allowed four imports, so would that means any players outside of those four states would be considered imports. Americans or Canadians. So my understanding is they’ll be allowed four imports whereas the rest of the BCHL will be allowed six. Please, correct me if I’m wrong.
- Victoria. Lots of news has been swirling around in the last 48 hours about the state of the Victoria Grizzlies franchise as they were in drawn out lease negotiations with Westshore Parks & Rec over their leasing of the Q Centre. It didn’t look good at all just a day ago, as there was strong talk of the team folding or relocating. The Times Colonist newspaper in Victoria had a story on that yesterday. But, as Commissioner John Grisdale said, it’s part of the process of negotiations and late this afternoon, local TV in Victoria had a follow story on their news tonight saying that meetings today went well and there looks to be an agreement in the near future. WATCH HERE.
- Let’s talk about the game shall we? It was a pretty good start for the Vees, as they got up 1-0 after one and 3-0 early in the second period. As Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said post-game, it was pretty solid first 30-minutes from the Vees; however, they did stray away from the game plan somewhat in the last half of the second and that’s where we saw a push by the T-Birds. Hey, the Soo gave the Vees a good fight and today was arguably their best effort in this tournament. But as Coach Cawley said, they seemed to stray away from what was working after they got up by three; human nature to cheat a bit with a cushion.
- What was the turnaround? A crafty timeout by Head Coach Fred Harbinson early in the third. The Soo scored late-ish in the second and then early in the third, both by Brett Jeffries to make it 3-2. Then, Nathan Hebert rattles the cross-bar on an attempt from the bottom of the circle; that shortly after the 3-2 goal. So, the Vees call a timeout, the coach settles down the troops and they go and outscore the Soo 2-0 the rest of the third and end up out shooting them 13-6 in the third. Great turnaround by the Vees and another sign of poise. They saw the game was getting away from them a bit but most importantly, they did something about it.
- Pat Newell eh? A four-point afternoon and finished the round-robin with four goals six points, which is a team-best. He’s such a crafty player, always slipping away from checks and finding soft spots in coverage. I asked him in the interview above how he avoids contact so much and he laughed it off and said it’s about anticipating the play; he’s got great vision. Both of his goals were nice and in different ways. His first was a nice play between him, Demico Hannoun and Gabe Bast. Bast fires the pass up to Hannoun at centre, who sees Newell breaking ahead down the right-wing and has the presence of mind to push it ahead to Newell. Newell knew he wasn’t going to win a race to the net so he fired a shot inside the far-post on the blocker-side; well placed. Then, Connor Chartier makes a great no-look, backhand pass across to Newell and he buries it into the open net. Yes, it was a power-play, but Newell still had the sense creep into a quiet area at the side of the net for the tap-in.
- The top-line was cooking this afternoon. Newell, Hannoun and Jost finished with three goals and eight points. They finally broke out today and in a big way after being somewhat stifled. They were playing very well in the previous three games but didn’t have that break out moment-it came Thursday. The Vees won two of their first three games with those games not putting their fingerprints on the scoresheet. They did that today. Hopefully this was a precursor to the Semi-Final.