Post-Game Blog: Greenfield, Warriors Blank Vees

Post-Game Chart Dec 18

GAME RECAP 

BOXSCORE 

Dec 18

Photo: Kyle Anderson / West Kelowna Warriors

  • It was a night of firsts but ones the Vees won’t recall on fondly. The Vees lost their first regular season game in West Kelowna in nearly two years. They dropped their first game to West Kelowna this season and were shutout for the first time this season. It was the first game for the Warriors Matt Greenfield and his first win and his first shutout. Like I said, a lot of firsts.
  • It was a defensive struggle as it took nearly 58-minutes for a goal to be scored and the Warriors and their marketers must have been sweating, as it was their annual Teddy Bear Toss night. I thought we would see overtime for the second time this year in a Teddy Bear Toss game but Jonathan Desbiens had other ideas. The goalies were good, as Greenfield shown, stopping all 41-shots the Vees threw at him; talk about a good first impression. Zach Driscoll was no slouch either, stopping 24 of 25 shots and he had no chance on the game winner. A real hard-fought contest between two rivals which made for good theater.

  • Above is the game-winner, the only even-strength goal in regulation, as Desbiens pots the rebound after a broken play in the Vees’ end. Some tough luck for the Vees on the winner, especially at the side of their net but first let’s go back to the beginning of the play. Hindsight is 20/20 but there was a chance for a pass to an open Easton Brodzinski on the right side. He’s alone in the circle but Scott Conway didn’t seem to pick him up right away and elects to shoot, which gets blocked by Nick Rutigliano. Watching the video, you wonder why didn’t he pass? Well, Conway is the team’s points leader, leads the team in goals (30) and just had a 4-point night in Vernon Tuesday. You want your tops guys shooting with the game on the line. So, you live with the blocked shot there and remember, he has 10 game-winners to his name and has been in involved in 18 game-winning goals this year. Easy to play armchair quarterback and say “Pass it to Brodz!”
  • The real rotten luck came at the tail end of the play just before the goal. Connor Sodergren comes down the left-wing, wanting to pass it over to Kyle Marino on the far-side. Domenic Masellis makes a great defensive play by coming across and laying down to block the centering feed; good tie-up too by Taylor Ward at the back-post. The puck sticks underneath Masellis though, allowing Sodergren to desperately flick it back out front, where it’s tapped-in by the trailing Desbiens. I thought it was going to be a heck of a defensive play that negated a quality chance but it turns out to be the game-winner. I don’t think the Vees thought the puck was going to come back to Sodergren there for the second chance at passing it; that hesitation cost them. Unfortunate turn of events.
  • Really, really liked the effort level from the Vees on Friday night. They only had four regular defensemen in the line-up but held the Warriors to just seven shots in the first and eight in the second; just 15 after 40-minutes. That’s against a full line-up in West Kelowna, who are the fifth-highest scoring team in the BCHL. It was all about the team defense as Assistant Coach Nick Fuher touched on in the post-game show. Not only were the defenseman good at boxing out in front and consistent at getting pucks quickly out, but the forwards did a great job at back-checking and forcing turnovers at their own blue-line. A lot of good timing with sticks, to deflect shots, poke pucks loose and lift Warriors off the puck. The result was disappointing but their wasn’t much sulking going on after the game. The Vees battled hard, competed for 60-minutes and played a strong defensive game; the bounces didn’t go their way Friday.

  • Great rush and scoring opportunity for the Vees in the third period by Colton Poolman; maybe it was their best chance to score. I think this play exemplifies the confidence by Poolman, as he’s much more involved offensively and partially because he was forced into that role with all the injuries, but a role he’s really embraced. I don’t think he would have done this in October or even mid November. First, he makes a great pivot at the side of his net to elude one fore-checker, then he powers past another behind the goal, before curling out on the far-side. He then finds Luke Voltin at centre ice before turning it on the jump up into the play. Then, in full stride, he takes a return pass from Voltin, makes a great move at the blue-line to dance around Nick Rutigliano but JUST pushed his forehand attempt wide of the corner.You could tell what he means to the team by the benches reaction to the play. They all were off their butts, holding their breath, and when the shot went wide you could see them fall back into themselves into disbelief; they were cheering the puck into the net. Poolman is great kid and is now becoming a heavy presence at both ends of the ice. Too bad that didn’t go in, would have been a great 20th birthday present.
  • OK, lets circle back to the Warriors Matt Greenfield. What a debut. acquired last week from the USHL’s Tri-City Storm, the 20-year-old makes his debut against the BCHL’s best team and shuts them out with a 41-save performance. Got to tip your cap to him. Before the game, Warriors Head Coach Rylan Ferster and I chatted about their goaltending issues and he said “it was no secret” they had some problems between the pipes. They were looking for some stability, as Greenfield was their fifth starter in as many games against the Vees this season. Well, he looked like a veteran as he played with a lot of poise, looked really calm in the net and didn’t seem to be out of position. The Vees kept firing shots but he was there, time and again, squaring up the shooter and not really letting out juicy rebounds. After the game I thought to myself, “Was he THAT good tonight? He didn’t really make any highlight reel saves.” Then I realized maybe he didn’t have anything that jumped out at you because his technical side. He was pretty sound and wasn’t scrambling around so that means he didn’t have to make any real desperate saves. Maybe West-K has finally found their guy.
  • Speaking of calm, technically sound goalies, Zach Driscoll was very good throughout the game for the Vees. He made two really eye-popping saves on two different Warriors power-plays. First, in the second period, he darted out his right-pad to stop Kyle Marino right on the goal-line by the post. Then, in the third, he came across nicely to get a shoulder on a Garrett Forster one-timer attempt. Driscoll was up to his old tricks Friday but unfortunately the offense dried up. You almost want to be an asterisk beside his third loss.
  • The Vees, if they would lament anything in the loss, would be their power-play. They had five opportunities, two in each of the first two periods and one late in the third but they couldn’t crack the Warriors PK. First, credit West Kelowna for getting in front of quite a few shots, as they filled the shooting lanes well. But I just had this overall feeling that the PP was, just, off; some chemistry issues. Maybe it was some hesitation, some over passing but there wasn’t that killer instinct there which we’ve seen and as most recently as Tuesday; they were 2-3 against Vernon. But the Vees did make a few changes to the power-play units, incorporating more forwards to ease some of the minutes for their defensemen, and that had the two units a bit off. Now, with a game of seasoning under their belts, do I expect a more comfortable looking power-play tomorrow? You bet. They’ll have to simplify their approach a bit too, as they need to move the puck a bit quicker and shoot more. One other big key is to hit the net. The Vees missed one too many nets from scoring areas when on the power-play Friday.
  • That was the Vees first loss in West Kelowna, in the regular season, since December 21st, 2013. Almost two years ago to the day and that too, oddly enough, was a shutout loss, as the Tribe blanked the Vees on that night 4-0. What a run that was for the Vees, they had won their last six trips to RLP before Friday. All-time, they’re now 27-7-0-1 in West Kelowna; still a pretty darn good record.
  • Conway’s 31-game streak is now over. All good things have to come to an end. He had 68 points, 30 goals, during the run, which stretched all the way back to September 16th. Like I said on Twitter after the game, we’ll likely never see something like that again.
  • It was just one of those nights. After the game, I packed up my radio gear and went outside to catch the bus but one problem-it wasn’t there. A slight miscommunication saw the team bus leave without me. Unfortunately for a lot of BCHL message board members, the bus did quickly swing back and pick me up; sorry guys. But I thought that scenario kind of summed up the night for the Vees. Just wasn’t meant to be.
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Blog Preview: Vees, Warriors in Weekend Double-Header

Dec 18

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  • The Vees go head to head with the West Kelowna Warriors this weekend to wrap up their pre-Christmas schedule. The Vees are coming off back-to-back double-overtime wins over Salmon Arm Saturday and Vernon Tuesday. West Kelowna is back home after taking two out of three on an Island Division road trip last weekend.
  • Tuesday the Vees made their first visit to Kal-Tire Place in Vernon and came away with a dramatic 5-4 win in OT. Chris Gerrie was the hero, as Scott Conway set him up for the game-winner 1:41 into three-on-three. The Vees had an early 1-0 lead in that game but trailed 3-2 after one and were down 4-3 late in the third, before rallying to beat Vernon for the fourth time.
  • West Kelowna dropped a 4-2 decision to the Bulldogs in Port Alberni Friday, before rebounding with a come-from-behind win over Nanaimo (7-4) Saturday. They concluded their three-game swing with a 5-3 win in Victoria on Sunday afternoon. Tonight is their first home game since December 4th.
  • The Vees have had the Warriors number this season, as they’re 4-0 against the Tribe and have won both of their visits to Royal LePage Place this season, including their last visit, November 13th, when they scored a 3-1 win. The Vees franchise has enjoyed a lot of success in West Kelowna, as they’re 27-6-0-1 at RLP since the Warriors relocated from Langley in 2006.
  • Scott Conway carries his BCHL-best 31-game point streak into tonight’s game. The 20-year-old has 34 goals and 68 points during the run which started way back on September 16th. Conway has just missed two games this year due to a school visit and has points in 31 of the 32 games he’s played. Conway has the most points against West Kelowna this season, scoring three goals and collecting five points in four games.
  • The Vees will dress three affiliate players again tonight, as defensemen Daniel Stone and Ryan Morrell from the Osoyoos Coyotes will be in the line-up. Upfront, the Vees will have 17-year-old Nathan Iannone playing alongside Desi Burgart and Ben Brar. Iannone made his BCHL debut on Tuesday in Vernon and plays at the Okanagan Hockey Academy.
  • Zach Driscoll is back between the pipes and is 12-2 with a 1.93 goals-against average and owns a .935 save percentage. Driscoll is 2-0 against the Warriors this year, sporting 2.50 goals-against average, to go along with a .921 save-percentage.
  • Goaltending has been a sore spot for the Warriors this year, as they’ve used four different goalies in the four games against Penticton this year. The Vees have faced Daniel Mannella, Forbes Ploszaj, Stephen Heslop and most recently Keelan Williams. The Tribe recently signed 20-year-old Matt Greenfield from the Tri-City Storm of the USHL and he’ll likely make his BCHL debut tonight.
  • Liam Blackburn, Kylar Hope and Jonathan Desbiens have been the three-headed monster for the Warriors this year. Blackburn leads the team in scoring with 42 points, closely followed by Hope with 40 and Desbiens is third with 36. Blackburn had a 19-game point streak this season that spanned nearly two months from September 19th to November 13th. Hope has already doubled his point totally from last year and in 24 fewer games. He also carries a 13-game point streak into tonight’s contest, as he hasn’t been held off the scoresheet since these two last played on November 13th; Hope was their Player of the Month for November.
  • Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro and Canada West booked a spot in the Gold Medal game at the 2015 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge Thursday, after they beat Canada East 8-5. Jost led the way for Canada West, picking up a game-high four points, which tied a tournament record, en route to being named the Player of the Game. They’re off today before facing the Russians tomorrow afternoon in the Gold Medal game. A full recap of last night’s win can be found here. 

 

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Canada West Going for Gold

Tyson Jost tied a tournament single-game record, picking up four points, as Canada West beat Canada East 8-5 in Semi-Final action at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Cobourg, Ontario.

Above is Jost’s third-period goal, a period which saw the two teams combine for a tournament record nine goals. Jost was named Canada West Player of the Game.

Canada West will face Russia on Saturday at 1 pm PST, in the Gold Medal game; it will be televised live on TSN.

Hockey Canada Recap:

Tyson Jost (Kelowna, B.C./Penticton, BCHL) tied a tournament record with four points in a wild third period, sparking Canada West to a back-and-forth 8-5 win over Canada East on Thursday night in semifinal action at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge.

The victory sends Canada West back to the gold medal game for the first time since 2012; the Canadians will face Russia in Saturday’s final (4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT on TSN), in search of their fourth gold medal.

Liam Finlay (Kelowna, B.C./Vernon, BCHL) had a goal and two assists, and Joseph Nardi (Edmonton, Alta./Whitecourt, AJHL) added a goal and a helper, all in the final 20 minutes; the two teams combined for a record-setting nine goals in the period, and Canada West became the fourth team to score six times in a single stanza.

Both teams started quickly; Brandon Biro (Sherwood Park, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) poked in a loose puck on a Canada West power play to open the scoring at 2:48, but Owen Grant (Stittsville, Ont./Carleton Place, CCHL) knocked a rebound past Matthew Murray (St. Albert, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) just 69 seconds later.

Adam Smith (Sharon, Ont./Newmarket, OJHL) jumped on another rebound to give Canada East its first lead at 11:08, but Bobby McMann (Bonnyville, Alta./Bonnyville, AJHL) replied 24 seconds later for West.

That would be it for scoring until the third period, and when it came, it came fast and furious.

Cale Makar (Calgary, Alta./Brooks, AJHL) snuck a change-up past Colton Point (North Bay, Ont./Carleton Place, CCHL) on a West power play at 3:38, and Finlay tapped in another goal with the man advantage at 6:14.

But Brett Murray (Bolton, Ont./Carleton Place, CCHL) scored right off the face-off at 7:23, and Luc Brown (Napanee, Ont./Wellington, OJHL) swept in shot at 11:23 to tie the game once again.

Jost restored the West lead 16 seconds later, shaking off an East defencemen before ripping a slap shot over Point’s glove, only to see Josh Kosack (Oakville, Ont./Oakville, OJHL) bat a rebound past Murray at 14:50.

Nardi finally gave West the lead for good at 16:51, going to the net to redirect a Finlay feed, and Tyler Busch (Lloydminster, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) and Noah Bauld (Halifax, N.S./Lloydminster, AJHL) both hit the empty net in the final minute.

Canada East will be right back on the ice Friday night, returning to Whitby, Ont., where it played its preliminary round games and quarter-final, to face the United States in the bronze medal game (7 p.m. ET).

 

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WJAC Semi-Final Thursday

Dante Fabbro, Tyson Jost and Canada West face Canada East in an all-Canadian Semi-Final match up at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Ontario this afternoon; 4 pm PST / 7 pm ET.

Canada West finished 2-0 in round-robin play, after picking up wins over the Czech Republic (7-3) and the United States (3-2). Jost leads Canada West in scoring through two games, with a goal and four points; Fabbro is tied for second with two assists.

Canada East split their two round-robin games, winning big over Switzerland (8-3) before being thumped 6-1 by the Russians. Canada East booked a spot in the Semis after edging the Czechs 3-2 Wednesday.

In other Semi-Final action, USA face Russia, also at 4 pm PST.

Fans can watch the all-Canadian Semi-Final for FREE on www.fasthockey.com 

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Post-Game Blog: Vees, OT Just Go Together

Post-Game Chart Dec 15

GAME RECAP

BOXSCORE 

  • Well, that’s some kind of stat. The Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane had a well publicized 26-game point streak in the NHL, which ironically came to an end last night in their 3-0 loss to Colorado. Kane had 16 goals and 24 assists during the run, which was the second longest in the NHL since Mats Sundin’s 30-game stretch in 1992-93. Why am I telling you this? Well, for comparison’s sake, Conway now has a point in very game but one he’s played in this season. He was shutout on opening night, missed two games due to a school visit but has points in the rest. His streak stretches all the way back to September 16th, ironically enough against Vernon. He’s got 30 goals and 68, SIXTY-EIGHT, points during his run. Just think about that for a moment or two. He was a man amongst boys last night. Two goals, two assists and he scored the game-tying goal and set up the game-winner in double-OT.
  • I think Vernon will deny enter to Kal-Tire Place for Conway next time the Vees come to Vernon. Conway after Tuesday now has seven goals and 11 points (yes that’s not a misprint) in four games against the Vipers. He’s got three two-goal games against Vernon in the season series. Snake charmer.
  • Conway was at the center of it all on Tuesday, not only did he bag four points in the win but he was also at the center of a controversial penalty-shot call against Penticton. This was the play:

  • Sorry, but that’s a textbook stick lift by Conway. The referee pantomimes a “holding” call on the play but as you can clearly see, Conway has both of his hands on his stick, he lifts Hunter Zandee’s stick twice and never turns over his blade. How is it a hold when he comes up from underneath and lifts his stick and then scoops the puck away? You can say I’m wearing my “Vees coloured glasses” but this was a flat-out missed call. Not only was it a terrible call but the time it was called at made it even more puzzling. It’s a 3-3 game with just over six-minutes left in the third period and that call could have decided the game. It was such a great play by Conway, who gave the puck away, to race back, change his angle to come at the side of Zandee and lift up his stick to prevent the shot. Luckily the Vees came back to tie the game and then win it in double-overtime. Heckuva play by Zandee to force the turnover and give himself an opportunity on the breakaway. He even recovered nicely on the penalty-shot, as he bobbled it somewhat before recovering and going five-hole. Fortunately that wasn’t the ending for the Vees.
  • Some Vernon fans won’t be happy about the penalty call that led to Conway tying the game late in the third on the power-play. But the Vernon forward left his feet and hit the back of Colton Poolman just off the boards. Here’s the reverse angle from behind the Vernon net:

  • That’s a textbook charging call. Brandt’s known to be a big hitter and his reputation for that is well-known around the league. So, he’s under the microscope and that hit won’t slide, especially when the optics look like that. I didn’t, from my angle, see him leave his feet when it happened but watching the video it’s pretty cut and dry.
  • Funny, because I thought the officials did a pretty good job last night up until the final minutes when all that controversy broke out. A shame that’s what the fans will remember most and not what was a pretty exciting game in the last two periods.

  • That’s the overtime-winner by Chris Gerrie above. So, this post-game blog is turning into the Scott Conway blog, but he made another great play on the winner. First, smart play by Luke Voltin to elude a defender in the neutral zone, before spotting Conway for the drop pass. He knew Conway was coming straight up the gut and would be in full stride so he just drops it for him to skate onto. Then Conway shows his smarts, as he comes down into the zone at top speed, sucks two defenders over to him, waiting for them to pinch over, before firing a dart back over to Gerrie for the shot. The Vipers knew all too well the OT prowess of Conway and you can see Jagger Williamson and Latrell Charleson key on Conway, as everyone thought he was going to shoot. Crafty play by the veteran to set up Gerrie for the winner.
  • Funny, talking with Vernon Broadcaster Graham Turnbull after the game, he jokingly said the Vees were just playing it safe it four-on-four to just get it to three-on-three and take their chances there. That was the Vees’ fourth double-overtime win this season, as they’re 4-0 in the three-on-three period, so maybe there’s some truth to Mr. Turnbull’s comments. They have a ton of skill and you can see it take over when there’s so much open ice with only six skaters out there. They sure know how to pick their spots and this team is now 7-0-1-0 beyond regulation. Undefeated in eight games.
  • Back to Gerrie for a moment, that was his first goal since November 25th, snapping a six-game scoreless drought. Coincidentally enough his last goal before Tuesday night came against Vernon too. Now, Gerrie and Conway have formed quite the OT pairing, as that’s back-to-back games they’ve manufactured the OT-winner. Saturday it was Gerrie setting up Conway and Tuesday they switched roles. I’m guessing we will see more of those two together in future overtime games.
  • One of the biggest problems for the Vipers this season? Their record against the top three teams in the Interior. They’re now 0-9-0-3 in 12 games against the Vees, Warriors and Silverbacks. Divisional points are so valuable and they’ve struggled to get points against teams that are ahead of them in the standings. Big reason why they’re in a dog fight with Trail for the fourth and final playoff spot. Big, BIG, game tonight in Trail, as the Vipers and Smoke Eaters go head-to-head.
  • How about Anthony Brodeur? Head Coach Fred Harbinson quipped this morning that it was a “Grant Fuhr” performance. He let in a few but didn’t let in the next one. After allowing three in the first period, Brodeur stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced over the final 46-minutes and 41 seconds. He made an eye-popping pad save on Steven Jandric in the second to keep the game tied 3-3 and then, with the Vees down 4-3, he made three “Grade A” saves on Jagger Williamson and Riley Brandt. He stops Williamson on a breakaway, then stops his rebound AND THEN he stops Brandt on the follow-up try. He made the big saves when his team needed him to. Still undefeated.
  • Speaking of Brandt, some Vernon Vipers and their fans were upset there was no call when Andrew Shortridge got bowled over in his crease late in the third. Well, here’s the video:

  • Some friendly fire by Brandt, as he went to go make a hit on Voltin just at the top of the crease as Voltin was cutting to the net. Unfortunately when Brandt went to throw the hit he bounces right off of Voltin and flies into his own goalie. Voltin goes in after Brandt, as he trips over the sprawled out goaltender. You wonder if the risk there was worth it, as there’s a very good chance the goalie is going to absorb some of the impact when a hit is attempted that close to the crease. That just a bad luck collision in the Vernon crease.
  • Some solid play but three veteran blue-liners in Poolman, David Eccles and Dom Masellis. I thought the three really stepped up when the Vees needed a push from the back-end in the second and third period. Poolman did Poolman things, logging a lot of ice and playing in all situations. Same goes for Eccles but I thought Masellis took a step forward last night. He was solid in his own end and was effective at the offensive blue-line make nice plays by keeping pucks in and firing intentional shots off the end boards, looking for the lively bounce back out front.
  • Not to be buried at the bottom of the blog but Nic Jones may have been the Vees best forward outside of Conway. He had two assists in the win and was a puck magnet all night. Shift after shift, he was making things happen in the offensive zone. I’ve said it quite a few times before, but he’s one of the most competitive and hardest-working forwards I’ve come across.
  • Shots seemed to be a bit off too last night, as in building they had them 41-29 Vernon but the Vees had it 33-29 Penticton on their shot tracker app. Odd, because the Vees weren’t credited with a shot in OT, despite scoring. Head scratcher.
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Blog Preview: Vees First Visit to Kal-Tire Place

Dec 15

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For an in-depth look at the Vernon Vipers, check-out the Vipers blog here. 

  • The Vees play two of their final three games before the Christmas break on the road, and it starts tonight in at Kal-Tire Place with a match up against the  Vipers. This is the Vees first trip to Vernon this season, as the first three games of the season series were at the SOEC; the Vees won the previous three meetings.
  • It’s a two-for-one game day special, as prior to the Vees-Vipers game, Canada West face the United States at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Ontario; puck drop is 4pm PST. Both teams enter the game 1-0 records, as Canada West scored a 7-3 win over the Czechs Sunday; USA beast the Czechs 6-0 yesterday. Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro each had two points in their opener. You can watch the game, for free, on Fasthockey.com
  • The Vees snapped a two-game winless “skid” last Saturday, scoring a 4-3 double-overtime win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Vees were up 3-0 and 3-1 heading into the third period against the ‘Backs but the visitors rallied to force OT. Scott Conway saved the day, scoring his fourth OT-winner in three-on-three, as the Vees picked up their first win against the Silverbacks this season. Vernon is coming off a 7-4 road win in Langley Saturday, as they were led by Odeen Tufto, who bagged four points in the win; Jimmy Lambert had two goals and three points.
  • Though the ‘Backs have given the Vees some fits, they’ve enjoyed quite a bit of success against Vernon. As mentioned, the Vees have won the first three games in the season series, scoring 3-2, 4-3 (OT) and 3-0 wins at the SOEC. Kal-Tire Place has been a comfort of sorts in recent memory too, as the Vees won all three regular season games in Vernon last year and have won seven of their last 10 trips to the “snake pit.” The Vees are 12-3-0-0 on the road, the best road record in the BCHL, but they’ve dropped two of their last three away from the SOEC.
  • Vernon has won three of their last five home games but on the flip side have lost two of their last three at home, including a 5-2 loss to Salmon Arm on December 9th; Vernon is 9-8-0-1 at Kal-Tire Place this season.
  • Patrick Kane’s 26-game point streak has been well publicized but how about the Vees’ Scott Conway? The 20-year-old enters Tuesday riding a 30-game point streak that stretches all the way back to the Vees home opener on September 16th, coincidentally enough against Vernon. Conway has 28 goals and 64 points in his 30-game streak, which is far and away, the longest streak in the BCHL this season.
  • The Vees will be short-handed yet again entering tonight’s game, as they’ll be missing six regulars from their line-up. They’ll only dress four regulars on the blue-line as well, as they’ve called up Daniel Stone and Ryan Morrell from the Osoyoos Coyotes; they’re the highest scoring defenseman on the Coyotes. Not dressing due to injury is Gabe Bast, Dixon Bowen, Seamus Donohue and Demico Hannoun. Dante Fabbro and Tyson Jost are away with Team Canada West at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge.
  • Penticton native and 17-year-old Nathan Iannone makes his Vees debut tonight in Vernon. The forward plays next door at the Okanagan Hockey Academy for the Prep Red team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. Iannone has 10 goals and 20 points in 18 games in the CSSHL. He’s also plays with a noticeable edge, as he has 72 penalty-minutes in those 18 games; 3rd most in the CSSHL. He played in the pre-season for the Vees when they hosted the Brooks Bandits and didn’t look out-of-place. Expect the AP to bring plenty of energy to the line-up.
  • With only four regular defensemen in the line-up the Vees will once again need big contributions from their veterans. Colton Poolman, David Eccles and Dom Masellis will need to be a factor on the blue-line. Poolman is a tone setter back there and the 20-year-old is coming off of one of his best outings of the season on Saturday. He’ll likely see a lot of the Odeen Tufto line, which has been hot for Vernon. The D-core needs to keep it simple with clean exits and not get burned by unforced turnovers.
  • Anthony Brodeur gets the start in goal and will be putting his undefeated record on the line. Entering tonight’s game, Brodeur is 16-0-1-0 on the season, sporting a 1.91 goals-against average and owns a .934 save percentage; he’s 2-0 against Vernon, owning a .912 save percentage.
  • The Vipers will be missing Liam Finlay from their line-up tonight, as he too is playing for Canada West. In his absence, Odeen Tufto has led the way, as the forward now leads the Vipes in scoring with 14 goals and 36 points. Tufto has seven points (3-4-7) in his last three games and points in four of his last six.
  • Andrew Shortridge is the likely starter for the Vipers, as he’s been a workhorse between the pipes for Vernon; he’s seventh in games played (24) and fourth in minutes played (1466). Shortridge has started all three games against the Vees this season, sporting a 0-2-0-1 record, with a 3.31 goals-against average and owns a .903 save percentage.
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Vees Bumped Out of Top Spot in CJHL Rankings

CJHL Top 20

From the CJHL:

As the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge gets underway in Coburg and Whitby, another battle is shaping up for number one overall in the CJHL between the newest top team, the Trenton Golden Hawks of the OJHL, and the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. This looks to be a long-term battle with both teams as we move into the second part of the season.

The Vees had a small stumble this past week in Salmon Arm, but got back on the winning track against those same Silverbacks back in their home rink on the weekend.

The Lloydminster Bobcats have also stumbled slightly in the AJHL, and have seen the Whitecourt Wolverines and the Brooks Bandits move closer to the Bobcats.

The Melfort Mustangs have been joined by the Battlefords North Stars as the two top teams in the SJHL.

The Portage Terriers remain strong at the top of the MJHL, but the Winkler Flyers and the Steinbach Pistons are right behind them in the overall MJHL standings.

The Fort Frances Lakers in the Superior International Junior Hockey League continue their strong grip on first place, while the Soo Thunderbirds, Powassan Voodoos, and Cochrane Crunch are continuing to separate themselves from the rest of the NOJHL.

The Trenton Golden Hawks are still running away from the rest of the OJHL, while the Carleton Place Canadians and the Cumberland Grads are holding their positioning in at the top of the overall standings of the CCHL.

The College Francais de Longueuil of the QJHL are tied in points with the Montagnards de Sainte-Agathe, but have one more regulation win and a game in hand on the Montagnards.

Meanwhile, the Summerside Western Capitals are locked in a pitched battle with the Dieppe Commandos for top spot in the overall standings in the Maritime Hockey League.

Top 20 Rankings

  1. Trenton Golden Hawks (OJHL) (2)
  2. Penticton Vees (BCHL) (1)
  3. Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHL) (3)
  4. Portage Terriers (MJHL) (5)
  5. Fort Frances Lakers (SIJHL) (6)
  6. Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL) (4)
  7. Winkler Flyers  (MJHL) (11)
  8. Powassan Voodoos (NOJHL) (8)
  9. Lloydminster Bobcats (AJHL)  (7)
  10. Melfort Mustangs (SJHL) (10)
  11. Carleton Place Canadians (CCHL) (9)
  12. Brooks Bandits (AJHL) (13)
  13. Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL) (12)
  14. Cochrane Crunch (NOJHL) (14)
  15. Whitecourt Wolverines (AJHL) (16)
  16. College Francais de Longeueil (QJHL) (15)
  17. Battlefords North Stars (SJHL) (20)
  18. Cumberland Grads (CCHL) (17)
  19. Summerside Western Capitals (MHL) (HM)
  20. Steinbach Pistons (MJHL) (NR)

Honourable Mention: Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL), Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL), Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL), Kingston Voyageurs (OJHL), Dieppe Commandos (MHL) 

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