Vees win an OT thriller to keep their win streak intact, remain atop of the CJHL rankings, a defenseman wins gold up in northern BC, and a shining star recognized on the national stage.
A Nail-Bitter to 19
The Vees pushed their win streak to 19-games on Saturday against Nanaimo but it didn’t come without its challenges. The Vees came from behind to beat the Clippers 3-2 in double-overtime, despite a penalty-filled affair at the SOEC. Demico Hannoun was the hero, scoring 49-seconds into three-on-three overtime, sending over 2,900 fans into a frenzy. Penticton trailed 2-1 with just over two-minutes left in the third before Captain Tyson Jost scored on an end-to-end rush to force extra time.
The Vees were short-handed eight times in the game, including having to kill-off a four-minute double minor in the first and a lengthy five-on-three Clippers power-play in the third; the penalty-kill held the league’s second-best power-play off the scoresheet. Saturday was the first time Penticton and Nanaimo met since the 2015 Fred Page Cup Final last spring.
Not only was Scott Conway the Vees’ Player of the Month for October but he was also named the BCHL Player of the Month, and the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s 2nd Star of October. Conway tallied 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points as the Vees went 12-0 in October. The 20-year-old had at least a point each of the 12 games in October and is currently riding an 18-game point streak. Conway had five game-winning goals last month and five games where he had three or more points. He’s only been held pointless once this season.
Whilst the Vees were busy winning their 19th in-a-row Saturday, Vees’ defenseman Griffin Mendel was busy winning gold at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek, BC. Mendel and Team Canada White came back to beat Russia 6-2 in the Gold Medal game in front of a sold out Encana Events Centre. Canada trailed 2-1 at one point but scored five unanswered goals to cruise to the victory. It was the first time a Canadian team won the Under-17’s since Team Ontario struck gold in 2011.
Canada White went 1-2 in round-robin play but peaked at the right time, beating Finland in their Quarter-Final match-up and just edged out Sweden in a thrilling Semi-Final. The Vees’ 16-year-old defenseman picked up one assist in six games and was a key contributor on the blue-line. Mendel has since rejoined his teammates and will be in the line-up Tuesday when the Vees visit Trail.
Staying on Top
The Penticton Vees remain the top ranked team in the weekly CJHL Top 20 national rankings this week. The second straight week they’ve held down the number one spot and the third week this season they’ve been ranked number one; they were the top ranked team in pre-season rankings.
The Vees are the only BCHL team in the Top 20 national rankings this week after Salmon Arm cracked the list last week; West Kelowna was an Honourable Mention one week ago.
The country’s top ranked CJHL team will look to stay atop of the national rankings with games against Trail, West Kelowna and Cowichan Valley this week.
After just one game last week, the Vees schedule picks up starting Tuesday, the first of three games in five days. The Vees travel to the West Kootenays to face the Smoke Eaters (8-11-0-0), who’ve won back-to-back games over Merritt (3-2) and Nanaimo (6-1) last weekend. It was nine days ago the Vees beat the Smokies 6-1 at Cominco Arena to extend their win streak to 18-games.
Friday the Vees head up the Okanagan Valley to face the West Kelowna Warriors (12-6-0-2) at Royal LePage Place. The Warriors have won five of their last six games, including a 7-4 last Sunday against Nanaimo. Going into this week, the Warriors are just three points out of second in the Interior Division.
Penticton wraps up their busy schedule Saturday with their only home game of the week, as they host the Cowichan Valley Capitals (11-6-1-2); puck drop is 6pm. The Caps start the week in first place in the Island Division, two points up on the Clippers. The Vees beat the Caps 5-3 back on October 24th, in Duncan.
Mike Garteig (2012) and Travis St. Denis (2012) helped the Quinnipiac Bobcats to a weekend sweep over Cornell. Garteig won both games on the weekend, backstopping the ‘Cats to a 3-2 win Friday and a 5-4 victory Saturday. Garteig is 8-0 with a 1.75 goals-against average and a .928 save-percentage. St. Denis picked up a goal in Saturday’s win and has seven goals and 10 points in eight games.
Connor Reilly (2012) helped Minnesota to a weekend split at Notre Dame. Reilly scored in Minnesota’s 4-1 win Saturday, as the Gophers rebounded from a 4-3 loss on Friday. Reilly has two points in seven games this season.
Mike Lee (2015) had a milestone night on Friday, as the freshman defenseman at Vermont scored his first NCAA goal in the Catamounts 5-3 loss to UMass-Lowell. Lee has dressed in eight of the Catamounts’ games this season and Friday marked his first point in Vermont colours.
In the professional ranks, Denver Manderson (2008-2010) recently resigned with the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL; an affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Manderson, 26, had 18 goals and 50 points in 52 games with Orlando last season, and had three assists in 20 games with the Toronto Marlies (AHL).