- Short on sleep and energy, the Penticton Vees mustered up enough to beat the Trail Smoke Eaters 6-1 Sunday afternoon. No, I’m not crazy, I know it was 6-1 but it definitely didn’t feel like a 6-1 game, especially through two periods. May I point out the Vees last three goals all came inside the final three minutes of the game. This was a close game and it felt like the Vees were hanging on to that 3-1 lead for what seemed to be forever. They truly did grind it out to the bitter end, if you can say that about a 6-1 win.
- The story, outside a page featuring Demico Hannoun, starts and ends with Zach Driscoll. The team needed a big performance from their goalie Sunday, a type of effort where they could lean on him throughout the game. They got just that and more. Driscoll was terrific, what else is there to say? He kicked out 48 of 49, never seemed to tire and never looked panicked. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley commented on the calming presence Driscoll has in the crease and it was very evident on Sunday afternoon. Trail had a big push right from the beginning and again in the second and third but “Drizzy” was there to turn them aside. There wasn’t any “oh my heavens” saves because he was always in position. You realized how good he was when you looked at the shot clock at the end of the game and went “oh.” How about this for a stat, he stopped 75 of 76 shots on the weekend, which is a .987 save-percentage; he also had a shutout streak of over 91-minutes. Driscoll is now first in goals-against average (1.67) and first in save-percentage (.946). Anthony Brodeur is right there too, as he’s second in goals-against average (1.77) and third in save-percentage (.932). The best tandem in the BCHL and quite the story considering Brodeur was signed August 1st and Driscoll didn’t come until late September.
- Demico Hannoun didn’t show any lingering effects of his lower-body injury that kept him sidelined the last week. He returned to the line-up on Friday and scored four goals in two games this weekend. He now has six goals and 11 points in 15 games and that’s pretty good considering how he committed himself to the defensive side of the game this year. He willingly sacrificed offense to make himself a better defensive player and learned to become an excellent penalty-killer, but now he’s putting it all together and truly is a “200 foot player” for the Vees. The coaching staff prior to Sunday’s game raved about some of his back-checks Saturday against Merritt and we saw a couple of instances Sunday, where he got on his horse and broke up a play in his own end. Hannoun, who’s now played over 200 games in the BCHL, has really come into his own this season.
- Speaking of Hannoun, he’ll be a big key moving forward when we talk about secondary scoring. The Vees went out and got Nicholas Jones to help with secondary scoring and taking pressure off the top-line. But the acquisition of Jones also strengthens the line-up in other areas. Look at the new line of Hannoun, Dixon Bowen and Luke Voltin. This “third-line” combined for three goals and six points in Sunday’s win and the new “second-line” of Jones, Owen Sillinger and Chris Gerrie combined for two goals and five points yesterday. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said post-game those two lines will be critical moving forward, as the top three of Easton Brodzinski, Scott Conway and Tyson Jost, will be keyed by the opposition’s best players. Yesterday was a good example, as those three looked a bit gassed and you can’t blame them, but those other two lines mentioned stepped up and filled the void offensively.
- The Vees only coughed up five goals in three games over the weekend and that’s with them playing pretty much four defenseman in two and a half days. I can’t praise enough the efforts of Colton Poolman, David Eccles, Seamus Donohue and Sam Jones. They had a heavy, heavy workload, took their fair share of licks but held down the fort. I’m sure those four woke up pretty sore today but their efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Yesterday they gutted it out, noticeably tired, but they managed to hold Trail to one goal. The forwards did their part too, coming back, collapsing and blocking shots but the four defensemen battled all weekend. Without Gabe Bast, Dante Fabbro and Griffin Mendel, three regular defensemen, the Vees won three more and only gave up five goals and they shutout Merritt. What other team could be missing three key blue-liners and keep on, keeping on.
- Another key to another successful weekend was their special teams. The power-play was excellent, especially Saturday but the penalty-kill was as good. The power-play went 6-9 on the weekend but the PK was 9-10 and they’ve only allowed one power-play goal against in the last six games; only eight in 19 games. No real surprise the Vees have worked themselves into top spot both on the power-play and penalty-kill during their 18-game win streak.
- Speaking of the streak, the 18-games is now the second longest streak in franchise history, only behind the record shattering 42-game streak in the 2011-12 season. Funny too is the fact both streaks are tied to Trail and Cominco Arena. Yesterday they won their 18th in a row in Trail and in November. Four years ago their streak started in Trail and in November (Remembrance Day). Funny how those things play out.