Fred Harbinson Pre-Game, September 4th
Ryan Papaioannou Pre-Game, September 4th
- The Penticton Vees woke up still undefeated in the pre-season Saturday but I’m sure they weren’t overly thrilled with their performance on Friday night. They did dig themselves out of a 3-0 hole but the coaches won’t be happy how they got there, or the fact they couldn’t hold onto two different leads in the third period but bottom line, they found a way to win against a very tough Brooks side.
- Twelve-minutes in and it was 3-rip for the visitors and the Vees looked a bit stunned. The first goal against comes just two-and-half minutes in and short-handed-that stings. Then it’s a knuckler from the blue-line that somehow loops over Brendan Barry and in. Then a turnover resulting in a quick strike in front of the Vees’ net and boom, they’re down three. Give them a ton of credit for coming all the way back and winning but they don’t want to be repeating that start tonight. Yes, it’s pre-season and the guys will get better with more reps but they seemed to be a half step behind early. Need to be on their toes and not their heels at puck-drop tonight.
- Say what you want about the officiating and the amount of penalties but what’s encouraging is the Vees are cashing-in on the man-advantage. I know its EARLY but the power-play looks more dangerous than it did last year. That’s no slight to last year’s group but the personnel this year seems to be clicking very well. The power-play saved them, as it was Jason Lavallée’s goal that started the rally in the first. Then the Vees tied the game at threes on the power-play in the second, after Griffin Mendel took a scary-looking knee-on-knee hit; he stayed in the game. Like Wednesday, the power-play Friday not only scored but at key times as well. That’s a good sign going forward.
- Were the Vees a bit more “loose” in their own end Friday? Sure but remember, they have some young pups back their learning as they go and Dante Fabbro is absent. So, the Vees have won back-to-back games without one of their top defenseman. There’s some perspective. Being tentative comes with being a rookie in the BCHL and learning the ropes. That’s something that can be corrected with teaching by the coaching staff, so the alarm bells shouldn’t be going off. Remember, Mendel, Jones, Niven are three that are making the jump from prep hockey; that’s half of last night’s back-end. I’m not singling out those three, just pointing out the youth factor. They’ll grow into the position and so will the D-core. Remember how much the defense improved last year? Guys like Mike Lee and Miles Gendron were in the exact same situation. They came from prep hockey, took their bumps early but then blossomed into key defensemen for the Vees down the stretch and into the post-season.
- Hot take: Tyson Jost and Scott Conway are a good pairing. Jost finished with a pair of goals and three points and Conway had two assists in the win. The chemistry is already starting to bubble and the two are dynamic pieces on the power-play. Chris Gerrie seems to be a real good fit on the right-wing with them. Another HOT TAKE: That top-line will get their points this year.
- That’s a deep team Bandits Head Coach Ryan Papaioannou has over there in Brooks. They have a nice blend of size and speed. He said that probably don’t have that “high-end” game-breaker but they have plenty of guys who can step up and contribute. They had five different goal scorers last night and got two goals and four points from their defensemen last night. For me, the forward I kept referencing was Jared Cockrell. The 20-year-old Air Force commit had a lot of touches and seemed to be always buzzing around in the offensive zone. On the back-end I liked Shane Bear who’s not overly big but skates well and was a factor at both ends of the ice.
- Things did get feisty-again on Friday. In his post-game chat with Bandits broadcaster Tyler King, Papaioannou referenced the physical play of Penticton as something his team wasn’t expecting. No, this year’s squad isn’t the reincarnation of the ” Broad Street Bullies” but this Vees squad is playing with some bite. Last night, again, it didn’t feel like a pre-season game and I’ll bet tonight won’t either.
- Why not come tonight? It would be $5 well spent. See you at 6 pm.