- Do you think Nicholas Jones is proving a point? After being snubbed for the Canada West camp for the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, the 19-year-old forward has scored four goals and eight points in three games, including his two goal, three-point effort Wednesday. Jones was one of a few surprising omissions from the BCHL, when it comes to who was invited to the camp which gets going Sunday in Leduc, Alberta. Jones played on Canada West at the event in 2013 and was a 41-goal scorer in the AJHL. Well, he’s clearly letting his play do all the talking and I sure hope the Canada West staff won’t regret the omission. I have a feeling they will.
- Jones has scored the Vees first goal of the game in two straight now, as he scored 64-seconds in against Trail on Saturday and four and a half minutes in on Wednesday against Merritt. He and Luke Voltin scored 18-seconds apart to quickly put the Vees up by two, just before the five-minute mark. Jones then scored a power-play goal late in the first to give the Vees a 3-0 lead after one, and you have to like how they started in their last two. Going back to last Saturday, the Vees have now not only scored the game’s first goal in back-to-back games but they’ve outscored the opposition 5-0 in those two first periods. The coaching staff challenged the team to be better early going into the game against Saturday, after a few slow starts in the last handful of games. Message received, for the most part.
- I say that because despite being up 3-0 and winning 5-3, it was the Vees goaltending that saved their bacon in the first. Zach Driscoll didn’t have eye-popping numbers Wednesday but the eye test tells you he was more than deserving of a star. The Vees really beat up the puck in their own end early on and gave the Cents’ a few quality looks on net. “Drizzy” had to make a few “Grade A” saves in the early going, two in particular on Michael Regush and Colin Grannary. Driscoll made an excellent reactionary pad save on a Regush tip attempt in front, then after the puck was thrown up the gut, Driscoll stonewalled Grannary with a nice butterfly save on a shot from the slot. Driscoll had Grannary’s number all night, as I had him down for three quality stops on Merritt’s top scorer.One of his toughest came off a play that looked harmless and routine. Gavin Gould lobbed a dump-in from centre that took a wicked in-between-hop that almost ate up Driscoll. The goalie alertly flopped on his back, stretched himself out and kept Grannary’s jam attempt out. Maybe his best play came when he wasn’t even making a save. On the power-play, the Vees got caught up ice and the puck was sent down in their end. A footrace ensued and Merritt’s Gould was going to get to it before any other Vee. Sensing this, Driscoll busted out of his net, raced towards the right-circle and full-out superman dove at the puck, poking it past the charging Gould, and sending the Merritt forward over top of the goalie. The Vees quickly counter-attacked and scored seconds later; an unofficial assist to the goalie. This all happened in the first period. The Vees were up 3-0 but the game could have had a much different feel if it wasn’t for Driscoll.
- I wrote about them on Saturday but they’re worth mentioning again after Wednesday. The line of Mitch Brooks, Demico Hannoun and Luke Voltin have had instant success since being put together. The three have now combined for four goals and 10 points in just two games and the three 20-year-olds have been the spark the Vees have been looking for upfront. The three play physical, play with an edge, always have their feet going and have been creating chances simply off of hard-work. Just look at the game’s first goal. Brooks stays out on the fore-check as his line changes, make a play at the blue-line to keep the puck in, hustles over to the other side of the ice to win a 50-50 battle, then he centers for Jones who goes upstairs for the 1-0 goal. Just hard-work. Brooks, Hannoun and Voltin are all 20-year-olds that are playing like veterans should. I don’t think we will see them separated any time soon either. Now to come up with a good name for that line. Suggestions? Seniors Tour?
- Griffin Mendel doesn’t get a lot of limelight and that’s understandable given his quiet demeanor off the ice and his steady presence on it. He’s not “flashy” per say but he’s smooth, very smooth out there; you forget he’s just 16. He’s been a very confident defender throughout the season, great with his body position, stick and quick on his feet; great at closing the gap. But now he’s getting more confident with the puck in the offensive zone and we’ve seen the net results in the last two games. Friday he was out there, when the Vees were down 3-2 to Vernon, Penticton’s net empty and his wrist-shot from the blue-line led to the tying goal by Conway. Last night he scores a key third period goal to seal the Vees win. Nicholas Jones makes a great reverse pass to “Griff,” who has all sorts of room to lean into a slap-shot that he blew by the goalie. Obviously and deservingly the spotlight on the blue-line is on draft eligible Dante Fabbro this year but make no mistake, Scouts are keeping tabs on Mendel for the 2017 draft. Last night was his second goal of the year and he now has nine points, which is still more words than he’s said to me all season. He lets his play do all the talking.
— Penticton Vees (@PentictonVees) December 3, 2015
- That’s Tyson Jost’s goal in the second period last night that made it 4-0. His 24th of the season which is not only a career high for him but it’s one better than last year’s team best. Jost and Hannoun had 23 a season ago. Jost extended his point streak to 17-games with that short-side snipe. He took over the BCHL scoring lead again after last night, as he now has 58 points in 29 games; one point better than Nanaimo’s Sheldon Rempal. But I don’t think you should leave the BCHL’s top scorer this open:
- That’s Jost, in the bottom left corner, stick in the air, letting his teammates know he has a bit of room to work with.