(Photos: Cherie Morgan Photography)
- The Vees had their chances, so too did the Alberni Valley Bulldogs but in the end, neither could grab the extra point. For the first time this season and for the first time since December 14th, of last year, the Vees tied an opponent. Last year the Vees tied twice and both of those came in December as well and in back-to-back games against Salmon Arm and Chilliwack. The way game unfolded Saturday, a tie was not on the front of your mind, as the Vees had leads of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-2, the latter two coming in the third, but the gas tank started to drain and the Bulldogs kept coming. Considering the extenuating circumstances for the Vees, walking away with a point and not a loss, is still satisfying.
- Going into the game, the Vees had just 10 forwards dressed up front and five regular defensemen on the blue-line, with an AP filling the final spot on the back-end. From Friday to Saturday, the Vees lost, at the time, the BCHL’s leading scorer in Tyson Jost and top scoring defenseman in Dante Fabbro, to the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, and Demico Hannoun due to injury. I crunched the numbers, that was a combined 42 goals and 117 points leaving the line-up in less than 24 hours. tough. In all, six regulars out of the line-up for the Vees, three forwards and three defensemen. Some perspective for you.
- Unfortunate news coming out of Friday’s shutout win against Vernon was that Demico Hannoun suffered a broken arm after being struck by a teammate’s shot on a Vees power-play in the third period. During a five-on-three sequence, Hannoun was standing out front providing a screen and looking for a tip but the point-shot struck him up high in the forearm area. The early prognosis is a six week recovery period, which would peg him for a late January return. Big loss because Hannoun was playing some of his best hockey of the season and had an impressive 7 even-strength goals in the month of November. He also had a plus 17 in shot attempts, meaning not only does he help create offense but helps take it away at the other end too. Hannoun’s absence was noticeable Saturday and will be going forward, as he’s one of the Vees’ best all-around players. Even-strength, power-play and penalty-kill, he does it all.
- Back to Saturday, it was the Alberni Valley Bulldogs who had the better run of play in the first period, as they came out and out shot the Vees 8-2 through the first 11-minutes. I thought Anthony Brodeur was sharp in the opening period, outside of that Quinn Syrydiuk equalizer. He faced 12 shots in the first and there were a few quality looks by the Bulldogs. Brodeur’s best sequence probably came when he stoned Eric Margo twice with his right-pad, as the ‘Dogs Captain was stopped point-blank on the doorstep on back-to-back attempts. It was a game where the Vees were going to need to lean on their tender more than usual and early on his was the backbone.
- The first two goals that got by Brodeur were a couple of odd ones that factored in some bad luck. The 1-1 goal came after Syrydiuk banked it in off his pad and the post. The original pass from behind the net actually hit the side of the goal, so instead of it coming out front, like Brodeur anticipated, it banked right. Brodeur slid off the post anticipating a centering pass and that room at the near post, allowed Syrydiuk to tuck it in. The 2-2 goal came on a freak play, as the linesman inadvertently ran a pick on Sam Jones at the Vees blue-line, allowing Nathan Dingmann, who just stepped out of the penalty-box, to break in down the right-side. As Dingmann moved into the right-circle, his shot was partially blocked by a sliding Domenic Masellis. However, the puck skipped back to Dingmann and he tucked it in on the far-side. Brodeur, if you watch the highlights, thought the puck jumped back behind the net on the glove-side and was unsuspecting on the rebound. Just an odd play all around.
- Brodeur was regrouped for OT and stopped eight, yes, eight shots in the first OT period, as the Bulldogs went for the jugular. He made an eye-popping glove save on Dominic Thom in OT and gave it the old “how do you do,” windmill action on it too.
- When you’re missing quite a few key pieces, you need others to step up and it was great to see Ben Brar and (double-checks boxscore)… Colton Poolman score the Vees first two goals. Brar opened the scoring in the first and against the run of play, as he did it all himself. He cuts in down the middle, moves to his right, had his first shot blocked but it comes right back to him, and he makes a nice toe-drag move before rifling a wrist-shot on the glove-side; that goal coming on just the Vees’ third shot 12-minutes in. For Brar it was his third of the year, first in 16-games and first against a team other than Prince George. Poolman, who was goalless in 30 games this season, scored his first goal as a Vee and first in junior hockey early in the second, reinforcing the hockey cliche of “Go to the net and good things will happen.” Nicholas Jones came down the middle, cut wide right, then fired the puck back in front to Poolman who was driving down the middle. He wanted to tip it in but the pass ended up going off his skate and if you watched the highlights, there was no attempt at a kicking motion. Poolman scoring his first junior hockey goal in 87 career regular season games between Penticton and the Fargo Force of the USHL. He also played a ton on Saturday and that’s maybe why he couldn’t bury the game-winner in three-on-three overtime, when he had that odd-man rush with Nicholas Jones. 87 games in total before Colton scored his first; well worth the wait I’m sure. Big night for the Poolman family, as his older brother Tucker, had a pair of assists in North Dakota’s 4-0 win at home over Denver on Saturday night. Here’s how Poolman’s goal looked:
— Penticton Vees (@PentictonVees) December 6, 2015
- From an Alberni Valley perspective, I thought there most effective line, throughout the game was Eric Margo, Adam Donnelly and Liam Conrad. I know Syrydiuk had two goals and their top-line tied the game, but those three always seemed to give the Vees trouble when they were in the offensive end. Margo and Conrad especially, as those two were around the puck a lot in the third and in the first overtime period. I thought Margo or Conrad were going to end the game on more than one occasion in the first overtime period. Also credit to their goalie, Carson Schamerhorn, who settled into his own as they game progressed. He was at his best in the second period, when the Vees were pressing and in overtime, as he made two great saves on Easton Brodzinski to help preserve the 4-4 tie.
- Watching OT unfold, in the back of year mind, you had a feeling this game might end in a draw. First, Scott Conway was awarded a penalty-shot in four-on-four OT, after Ryan Finnegan hauled him down from behind. A couple of factors at play that resulted in Conway not winning the game right there. One, his ice time was significantly higher Saturday, considering the Vees had only 10 forwards and all the special teams time he had to play; he was a bit banged up too. Two, there’s no scrape before OT, so the ice isn’t in optimal shape, so it was tough sledding trying to stick handle. The puck did jump on him as he moved down to the right-circle but he quickly reeled it back in before trying to go blocker-side. Like Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said after the game, if this was a normal game, Conway likely scores there and the Vees win. Saturday he’s tired, he’s sore, the ice is beat up and that’s not a great recipe for success on a penalty-shot.
- Nic Jones continues to tear up the scoresheet, as the forward now has points in six straight and has six goals and 13 points during his streak. Last night he had a goal and three points, as he factored in on goals two, three and four. He’s going to be a key piece in these next two weeks before the Christmas break and so far, he’s living up to expectations; exceeding them more like it. The thing you have to love about him, is how hard he competes. He’s not shy about getting dirty and scoring the greasy goals and he never not puts in a full effort. His attitude and approach to the game is a great example for his teammates. He’ll be a leader over the next five games.
- The Vees 20-game consecutive home winning streak ends in the tie but they’re now undefeated in their last 21 home games. Alberni Valley is the first team to not allow the Vees to get the full two points at home, since Vernon won in Penticton on February 11th, 2015. So, the Vees are now 20-1-0-0 in their last 21 home games. Still, that’s kind of OK.