- OK, warning, you might see the word “secondary” pop up in this blog post. The coaching staff wanted more secondary scoring going into the weekend and they definitely got that on Saturday night. Before Saturday’s game, the top line of Tyson Jost, Scott Conway and Chris Gerrie had accounted for half of the team’s goals. Well, the Vees scored five goals Friday and none of those three scored and only Conway got an assist (power-play point). So, the Vees got five goals from outside of their top line, two rookies scored their first BCHL goals and they got another goal from their blue-line. It looks like that secondary scoring is starting to come and hopefully it carries into next week too.
- Great to see guys like Dixon Bowen, Jason Lavallee and Ben Brar score. Bowen is starting to heat up after being snake-bitten in the early going. Since last Friday, Bowen now has three goals in as many games. He had two on Saturday against PG and both coming a key times. His first made it 2-1 Penticton midway through the second when he cleaned up a rebound in front. What made that goal even better was the fact the Vees were held without a shot for the first six and a half minutes of the second before getting that power-play marker. Then his second made it 4-1, 25-seconds after the Vees scored their third goal. The Spruce Kings were forced to call a timeout and they even changed their goalies. Bowen has three goals now but he’ll get more, as he is one of, or the fastest skaters in the BCHL. I haven’t seen someone with more explosive first two-three strides than him. He took off short-handed in the third period and was only a few inches away from getting a hat-trick. He’s going to create breakaway chances with that speed, it’s just a matter time before he starts cashing in consistently. Lavallee was due, as he’s been flirting with a goal for quite some time. He actually almost scored seconds before on the shift that saw him in fact score his first BCHL goal. He just missed one tip before moving back in front and tipping in Griffin Mendel’s point-shot. He went in front, camped out in a high traffic area and then showed some great hand-eye coordination to make it 3-1. Like Lavallee, Ben Brar was also knocking on the door in the last few games. Last Friday he had what he thought his first BCHL goal waved off against the Chilliwack Chiefs. Fast-forward to Saturday and he finds a soft spot in coverage out front, takes a nice dish from Easton Brodzinski and one-times the puck past Liam McClusky. That will be a huge confidence boost going forward.
- Special teams, again pretty good for the Vees. Now, they’re probably taking one too many penalties for their liking but the PK was strong Saturday, going five for six and 12 for 14 on the weekend. The Vees have the third-best power-play and penalty-kill in the BCHL right now. Despite the PP going 1-5, I thought it again looked very dangerous throughout the game. The Vees had a few real good looks at the net that they just fumbled on or just missed. This power-play seems to be the real deal and it will only get more dangerous as the season wears on. If it wasn’t for a flub here or there, we could have been talking three power-play goals from Saturday’s game. The PK, operating at 88 and a half percent, is really giving the opposition fits. The Vees’ PK guys are hound that puck carrier and sometimes are the most dangerous of the two units. Demico Hannoun and Griffin Mendel I thought were terrific on the penalty-kill on Saturday. The two were constantly breaking up passes and making plays all while down a skater. I forget sometimes that Mendel is just 16, which is lost on you when you watch him play; so poised. Hannoun has really embraced a newer roll this year with lots of reps on the PK and he was a thorn in the side of the Prince George power-play. Other guys who should get some praise are Colton Poolman and Owen Sillinger. Both very good as well on the PK.
- Zach Driscoll looked good in his Vees debut, stopping 22 of 24 shots in an environment that isn’t always kind to goaltenders. Cramped conditions and lively old boards, means crazy bounces and frantic action at times; not always the best for goalies. However, Driscoll looked composed in the net throughout the game and the two shots that got by him were bombs from Adam Brubacher. I thought he made quite a few under-the-radar type saves throughout the game, including a breakaway stop on Bryan Basilico. But his best was a point-blank glove save off of Jarod Hovde. Puck came right out front to Hovde, who was on the front porch but Driscoll flashed his glove and just got enough of the quick shot to steer it wide. He may not officially look the part yet with those orange pads, but he’s sure playing like it.
- So, Tyson Jost has a lot of points yes, but Dante Fabbro went about a one goal, three point performance, good enough for third star honours Saturday. By my count, Fabbro is now the highest scoring defenseman in the BCHL with three goals and 12 points in 8 games. His heavy shot from the point has developed into a real nice weapon for the Vees and he keeps getting it done in his own end. He’s the real deal too.