The Penticton Vees face the Carleton Place Canadians for the second time in five days, as the two meet in the early Semi-Final Saturday at the PCU Centre in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The Vees did beat the Canadians 4-3 back on Tuesday afternoon, handing CPC their first loss of the tournament and snapping their shutout streak at 125-minutes.
Face-off 2pm CT / 12 pm PST on EZ Rock AM 800
Four teams are left, after 129 teams across 10 leagues started the seasoning chasing the dream of the hoisting the RBC Cup. In the nightcap, the host Portage Terriers face the Melfort Mustangs at 7pm CT / 5pm PST. The winners of today’s Semi-Finals meet in the National Championship game tomorrow night (7pm CT / 5pm PST ON TSN).
The first time in this tournament the Vees are facing elimination but this is nothing new to them. The Vees have faced adversity quite a bit on their long playoff run to the RBC Cup. The Vees were down 3-2 in the BCHL Interior Division Final to Vernon but came back and won two straight. They were down 2-0 to Nanaimo in the Fred Page Cup Final, losing the first two games at home, before winning four straight to capture the league crown. If you want to go one step further, the Vees rebounded to beat Portage in the Western Canada Cup Final after losing to them in the round-robin.
If you want to give yourself a refresher on the round-robin game against CP, CLICK HERE.
Three Vees were recognized at the 2015 RBC Cup Awards Banquet last night. For a full recap, CLICK HERE.
It’s pretty simple for the Vees and for both teams: Win or go home. After today’s game, one team is moving on to the National Championship, while the other is packing their bags and going home. The strategy isn’t overly complicated at this point, as it’s about which team “wants it more.” The Vees beat CPC back on Tuesday because they looked to be the “hungrier” of the two in that afternoon contest. Heck, CPC Head Coach Jason Clarke had a very blunt assessment of his team’s play, saying they “played like boys” and the Vees “played like men.” I’m sure that comment was a direct message to his team but also citing the Vees strong work ethic.
A big key I thought for the Vees in that game against CPC was their second period, as they got into the Canadians end, ate up zone time and were forcing turnovers with their aggressive fore-check. Just look at their two goals in that middle frame, as both Riley Alferd and Steen Cooper scored within inches of the blue paint. More of that will be needed this afternoon.
The Vees will make one line-up change this afternoon, as veteran Cam Amantea comes back in and Mitch Newsome will come up; Amantea sat out on Thursday.
Vees Projected Line-Up
11 Pat Newell 71 Tyson Jost 21 Demico Hannoun
17 Steen Cooper 48 Connor Chariter 67 Dakota Conroy
12 Matt Serratore 91 Riley Alferd 15 Jack Ramsey
74 Cam Amantea 19 Cody DePourcq 77 Lewis Zerter-Gossage
53 Patrick Sexton 2 Dante Fabbro
10 Miles Gendron 4 Gabe Bast
3 Mike Lee 27 Jarod Hilderman
35 Hunter Miska
1 Brendan Barry
The Canadians are trying to get back to the RBC Cup Final after losing last year to Yorkton in dramatic fashion. They have nine players back from last year’s team and all that stands in their way of getting back to the National Championship game is the Penticton Vees.
The Canadians had a great start to the tournament, shutting out the Soo Thunderbirds 4-0 and the Portage Terriers 3-0. They hit a bit of a bump in the road in the back-half of the round-robin, dropping back-to-back 4-3 decisions to the Vees and Melfort Mustangs (OT). The Canadians finished the round-robin with a 2-0-1-1 record for seven points and third place.
As mentioned, they have quite a bit of RBC Cup experience on their roster but non more important than in goal. Guillaume Therien, back from last year’s RBC Cup Finalist squad, was very good in the preliminary round, posting two shutouts and owning a tournament best 1.95 goals-against average and a .932 save-percentage. Those stats earned him the Top Goaltender award at Friday’s Awards Banquet.
There was some talk if their top scorer in the regular season and playoffs, Andy Sturtz, would play today after missing Thursday’s game against Melfort. Sturtz sat out that game but afterwards the coaches said it was for “rest” purposes and he would play Saturday. I’m not sure if or when Sturtz was injured in the game against the Vees but my only guess would be that partial breakaway attempt he had on Hunter Miska. Sturtz got tangled up with Miles Genderon at the tale end of that play. With whats at stake today, I would bet we see Sturtz in the CPC line-up this afternoon.
Canadians Projected Line-Up:
9 Tyson Stewart 21 Jordan Larson 16 Andy Sturtz
26 Stephen Baylis 22 Craig Pefley 18 Vinny Post
10 Wesley Baker 12 Adam Lloyd 19 Bryce Van Horn
17 Connor Merkley 20 Andrew Dodson 25 Maxime St. Pierre
7 Devin Campbell 23 Owen Stewart
4 Willie Brooks 11 Alex Robinson
3 David Eccles 27 Ryker Killins
1 Guillaume Therien
35 Adrian Clark