(Photos: Cherie Morgan Photography)
- 104. That’s how many penalty-minutes were handed out last night in the Vees, Warriors “exhibition” game. The Vees picked up 41-minutes and the Warriors were dinged for 63-minutes. Two game misconducts and three misconducts were handed out too. Oh yes, Brendan Barry also shed the flippers and fought the Warriors’ Paul Lovsin in the first period-again in an exhibition game. Safe to say these two teams likely won’t be scheduling exhibition games against each other next September.
- The tipping point for me was midway through the first period after a physical sequence that saw the Vees land three pretty good licks on Warrior players. Seamus Donohue got a shoulder in on Kyle Uy at centre, Gabe Bast nailed Lane Gilliss in the corner and Colton Poolman erased Jonathan Desbiens behind the Vees’ net. None of those three hits were deemed illegal by the referee but Donohue did end up picking up a penalty but I believe for another incident. The Tribe took exception to two of the hits, the ones by Donohue and Poolman. Both hits had players jostling and face-washing one another in scrums. It was “on” from there.
- It’s funny, because there was considerable talk around the rink on how physical this year’s Vees were/are. I don’t know if it was a pointed effort or the fact they were just responding to the physical brand the Warriors were employing on Wednesday as well. I think the Vees maybe thought the Warriors were trying to push them around a bit early and they decided to push back. That led to a very physical and emotional game over the final 50-minutes. Yeah, it got silly at times, especially late but that’s what happens I suppose when you have two bitter rivals going head-to-head, even in pres-season.
- The focal point of the fieriness was Vees’ starter Brendan Barry fighting the Warriors Paul Lovsin. The play all started after Lovsin crashed into the net trying to chase down a pass. As Lovsin was picking himself up and out of the net, he engaged with Barry in the crease. Barry took exception to Lovsin’s stick getting up high in the chest area-there was a jab. The two continued jawing before they came to blows. Yes, Lovsin looked surprised that the Vees goaltender was dropping his gloves and throwing rights but he wasn’t an innocent bystander in the manner. Besides, Barry is usually a very low-key individual in net, so something had to set him off.
- To the actually game itself and you wouldn’t be surprised to know it was dominated by special teams, given the preamble above. The Vees had 11, yes, ELEVEN power-plays on Wednesday. A few of those were abbreviated ones but at one point, if my math is correct, they had a run of seven straight power-plays. So, it was hard for the game to settle into a rhythm. The Tribe’s power-play was hot early, scoring their first two goals on their first two power-plays. The two teams combined for three goals in the first and all were scored on the man-advantage. Despite only two goals on 11 chances, I liked what I saw from the Vees on the power-play, considering the situation. They had lots of zone time, were zipping the puck around and if it wasn’t for misfires here and there, they could have had more than a pair. Tyson Jost scored a nice one in the first when he ripped a one-timer short-side from the right-circle. With more practice, will come a more polished product.
- The Vees do have some weapons on the power-play and that was evident last night and it will be interesting to watch who works with who. Scott Conway not only has a great shot but great vision and the likes of Dixon Bowen, Gabe Bast and Colton Poolman showed they can be good point-men. Remember, this was without Dante Fabbro who will be a big factor on the power-play. Fabbro is down in the US visiting a couple of NCAA programs.
- Lost in the bitterness of last night was the strong play from Anthony Brodeur. I thought he looked sharp in the 41-ish minutes he played. He only allowed one goal but made some nice stops along the way. His best might have been off of Reed Gunville in the second. Gunville found himself in behind the defense on an odd-man rush but his one-timer on a feed from the right, was kicked out by the right-leg of Brodeur who came across quickly; quick reflexes runs in the family. Brodeur and Barry will each get a game this weekend against Brooks. I look forward to the competitive but friendly battled in the net between the two.
- Tomorrow and Saturday should be fun, as two inter-league rivals (?) face-off. The Brooks Bandits are one of the top programs in the AJHL and usually are leaders in NCAA commitments out there. They play a similar, up-tempo style of hockey the Vees do. Hey, who can’t forget that 2012 Doyle Cup against the two? It was some great hockey and terrific atmosphere.