Recapping a Memorable Game

I spoke with Co-Captain Patrick Sexton this afternoon about his game-winning goal and Sunday night’s atmosphere.

 

(As you can see, Mr. Sexton drew quite the crowd for our interview today) 

    •  Well, that was something wasn’t it? A game seven that will be talked about for quite some time. Sunday night definitely had a “game seven” feel to it, as you could sense the urgency, desperation from both teams. It was a game that was decided on guts, sheer will rather than skill. Yes, the Vees won on a lucky bounce but I remind you so did Vernon in game five in Penticton. I remember saying out loud something of the effect “The Vees had NO puck luck in this series,” after Luke Voltin’s  game-winner in game five went off a Vee and in. Well, the favour was repaid in full, as the Vees finally got a bounce to go their way in this series. It so happens to be the final bounce and in the deciding game. Funny how that works out.
    •  Raise your hand if you picked Patrick Sexton to win the series for the Vees. OK, maybe these two did: Paddy
    • What a night for the Vees Co-Captain. Sexton scored his first ever BCHL playoff goal last night and his first goal since December 19th against West Kelowna; 34 games between goals. To make it an even more memorable night, his dad Randy, who works for the Pittsburgh Penguins, was in attendance watching last night’s game. Last night was also Sexton’s 301st of his junior career. I’m sure 53 won’t soon forget March 22nd, 2015.
    • Sexton’s goal reminded me of one he scored against Vernon last year. I looked it up and sure enough they were eerily similar. On February 14th, 2014, Sexton scored 14-seconds into the game from the same position at the same blue-line and almost at the exact same spot. On that night, his point-shot went off the glove of Riley Guenther and floated over…yes, the goalie’s glove; that goalie was Austin Smith. Last night, Sexton drags the puck from the left-wing and his point-shot hits Riley Brandt and flutters in over Todosyhcuk on the…glove-side. You can watch the video from last year here. Seriously? How crazy is that? Him scoring almost identical goals and from nearly the same spot and against the same team but over a year apart.
    • I mentioned guts off the top and it was a gutsy effort from the Vees. They lost Lewis Zerter-Gossage to an upper-body injury on his very first shift and had to play with 11 forwards the rest of the way; a game like that felt like playing with two forwards down. The Vees had to double-shift guys and that meant increased minutes in a game where every inch of ice gained had to be earned; tough sledding. Game sevens tend to take on a unique feel, a game within a game and we saw that Sunday. Guys were throwing themselves at one another, tackling each other and wrestling each other for contested pucks. The Vees showed a lot of heart to battle right to the bitter end and squeeze out that win. I’m sure the jubilation of the series win was masking the bumps and bruises some of the Vees were feeling this morning.
    • Hunter Miska  looked like an MVP last night and in the last two games. When the chips were down, he came up with two clutch efforts. Miska, with his team facing elimination twice, went 2-0 in the final two games with a .05 goals-against average and a .984 save-percentage. Oh, and had a shutout in game seven. He fought through a lot of, umm…”traffic” in this series but he didn’t let it get to him. Yeah, he had an off game in game three but he rose to the occasion in game six and again in game seven. He was a target, that’s clear to see and that comes with being one of the best players in the league. He handled it extremely well and didn’t let that sideshow in game two sidetrack his post-season. After “slumping” somewhat through games two-five, Miska was there when it mattered the most. MVP. Last night he made some great saves, especially late through traffic when the Vipers had the extra-attacker out. He looked so confident in such a hectic environment and he’s a calming influence for his team. He made two clutch saves during a Vipers power-play sequence in the third that proved to me he was “back.” He stopped the blast from the point and as if it was a Tuesday afternoon practice drill, he did the splits as he moved to his left and snatched a Anthony Latina rebound attempt. No big deal.
    • I mentioned more than once the Vees struggles in the third period in this series. Well after being outscored 7-0 in the third through games 1-5, the Vees outscored the Vipers 3-0 in the third period in games six and seven. The Vees got a crucial goal in game six from Pat Newell to ice a 5-1 win and setup game 7.1 Then in game seven the Vees scored both of their goals in the third and inside the final three-minutes. That’s how you turn the tables.
    • Liam Coughlin led the Vipers in playoff scoring with 10 points and had three goals and five points in this series; he was a handful. However, when it mattered the Vees found a way to keep him at bay. In game six and seven, Coughlin was held pointless after picking up three goals and five points in games three, four and five; all Vernon wins. Yes, Coughlin had a couple of quality chances over the last two games but the Vees and their goalie managed to thwart Coughlin. A big reason why the Vees came back to win this series was shutting down the top-line of Vernon, as the Coughlin, TJ Dumonceaux and Thomas Aldworth trio had just two points between each other in the last two games; Aldworth assisting on Dumonceaux’s goal in game six.  A good chunk of credit has to go to the line of Riley Alferd, Jack Ramsey and Matt Serratore. Those three saw a lot of the Vipers top-line in the series and responded well. The three even managed to put up some numbers, as a line they combined for four goals and eight points in seven games. Fitting that two-thirds of that line was on the ice when the Vees sealed the game and series with an empty-net goal. Fitting it was Serratore scoring it too, as he likely had the Vees best chance in the game. He rifled a shot off the cross-bar after a great rush down the right-win in the second period.
    • Connor Chartier: Playoff MVP? Five goals and seven points in the series versus Vernon and his line had eight goals and 15 points. Chartier, 21, is embracing his last junior hockey playoff run. He and his line-mates have formed a really good 1-A option for the Vees.
    • The Vees depth has been much publicized but it was another key to winning this series. Every line scored at least a goal in the series and the Vees had only one player not register at least a single point in the series, and that player only played in two of the seven games. The parity was uncanny, as the Vees first line had 16 points, their second line 15 and the third and fourth line chipped in with 8; talk about spreading it around. Now, the team is quick to shoot down any labeling of their lines, as Fred Harbinson doesn’t hesitate to play any of his four lines at any time of the game. When you can get production out of all four lines and have trust in all four, you have a good chance to go a long way. I really do think the Vees consistently using their whole bench went a long way in pulling out a game seven win. It was three games in three nights with double-overtime mixed in there in game five, to closeout the series. The Vees saved enough gas for game seven and they used every once of their reserves last night.
    • It was great to see this team win a series on home ice after dropping last year’s Interior Championship at the SOEC. Go back a year before and the Vees lost the Fred Page Cup at home too. Cam Amantea and Cody DePourcq played on both of those Vees teams and I’m sure it ate at them. Great to see the Vees buck that trend and get to win on home ice and in front of an awesome crowd. They’re now 6-2 at home in the post-season but both of those losses came in overtime. Good to see this team use that home-ice advantage they fought for in the regular season.
    • A huge thank you to the over 32-hundred fans who had the SOEC rocking. It was an electric atmosphere and one that I will not forget. I had goose bumps when Serratore scored that empty-net goal. The noise was deafening and I thought the fans were going to blow the roof off the joint. It was hard not to get somewhat emotional with the late-game dramatics, the crowd and what last night meant to the players and their supporters. Hopefully we can see that awesome support carry over into the round robin AND hopefully the Final.
    • Speaking of the BCHL Double Round Robin, the league office released the schedule for it and a helpful, fan-friendly “tracker.” Check that out here.  
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Interior Final: GM 7 Post-Game Links

Great pictures from team photographer Cherie Morgan 

GAME STORY 

BOXSCORE 

What a game and what a series. I’ll have a full rundown on a memorable game seven and series on Monday.

In regards to the BCHL Round Robin, it starts in Penticton on Wednesday, when the Vees host the Nanaimo Clippers.

Here’s a note from the BCHL:

Penticton defeated Vernon 2-0 to claim the Interior title while Nanaimo held off Powell River 3-2 to claim the Island crown. Last week, Chilliwack claimed the Mainland Division.

Based on their regular-season points totals, this means Penticton is the #1 seed for our Round 3 Double Round Robin with Nanaimo the #2 seed and Chilliwack #3.

The schedule for the Round 3 Double Round Robin is as follows:

Wednesday March 25: Nanaimo Clippers @ Penticton Vees, 7pm

Friday, March 27: Chilliwack Chiefs @ Nanaimo Clippers, 7pm

Sunday, March 29: Penticton Vees @ Chilliwack Chiefs, TBA

Tuesday, March 31: Chilliwack Chiefs @ Penticton Vees, 7pm

*Thursday, April 2: Penticton Vees @ Nanaimo Clippers, 7pm

*Saturday, April 4: Nanaimo Clippers @ Chilliwack Chiefs, 7pm

*Monday, April 6: Tiebreaker game

*If necessary

The Round 3 Double Round Robin will eliminate one team with the remaining two advancing to the Fred Page Cup BCHL Finals best-of-seven starting April 10.

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Interior Division Final: Game 7

Just. Win.

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Vees Force Game 7

Patrick Sexton was playing game 300 of his junior career Saturday and wanting nothing more to get to 301. He got his wish.

The Vees Co-Captain was excellent and so too were all the Vees veteran players in the 5-1 win in game six. Just look at who scored for the Vees. 21-year-olds Connor Chartier and Cam Amantea scored the first three goals and 20-year-old Dakota Conroy scored the fourth goal. That’s leadership.

Steen Cooper also had a whale of game sliding in on the second line with Chartier and Conroy; That new look line showed it’s age and in a good way. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley raved about those and their consistency.

Hunter Miska, was Hunter Miska. The best thing for him was stopping Liam Coughlin on a short-handed breakaway. Coughlin tried to out-wait Miska with a fore-hand deke but the Vees goaltender lunged out and got a toe on the shot. That was midway through the first and kept the game scoreless before Chartier made it 1-0 on the power-play. Miska stopped 36 of 37 and you had that feeling “he was back.”

You want to average one power-play goal per game in the playoffs and the Vees got it. Odd sequence leading up to the goal. The first unit and the Vipers PK was fighting the puck, as it was like a pinball in the neutral zone. The Vees finally got the second unit out and Cody DePourcq made a heckuva pass to Chartier. Little saucer pass on his tape and at full speed. Chartier now has seven goals in eight games. You could argue he’s the Vees playoff MVP.

Back-to-back games the Vees scored three times in the second. Amantea scores twice in four minutes and Conroy adds one late. Amantea, some may have not known, has a really underrated shot; he can pick the corners. Vees see it in practice and we all got to see it Saturday. His first was on another beautiful setup by Depourcq, this time from behind the net and then his second off the rush on a neat dish from Tyson Jost. His second crucial, as he scored as a Viper was stepping out of the penalty-box. Amantea now has three goals in five games. More depth scoring. He’s authoring quite the playoff story. Injuries have plagued him but now hes feeling the best he has in awhile
and now is contributing.

Penalty-kill. Critical 5-on-3 that was killed off in the second. In short succession Sexton, Gabe Bast and Miles Gendron (10-minute misconduct) were sent to the box. All three are regular PK guys. Vernon had a two man-advantage for nearly 90-seconds. This in the second with the Vees up 3-0. Vipers score there and who knows what happens. Huge sequence and a key to the win.

Pat Newell scored the Vees first third period goal to make it 5-1. The Vees were outscored 7-0 in the third period of this series before that goal. Granted two of those goals were empty-netters. That was huge. That goal snuffed out any Vernon thought of a comeback. Demico Hannoun was all-world on that shift. He battled for the puck at his blue-line and then dove to poke it to Newell for the breakaway. Hannoun hasn’t been scoring the last two games but his commitment to his own end has been second to none. Take care of your own end and the rest will take care of itself.

Excellent effort to get to game seven but it’s not over. Nine returnees learned that lesson last year when the Vees lost game seven. They have to seize the moment, embrace it. Hopefully the Vees can feed off of an electric atmosphere at the SOEC.

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Interior Division Final: GM 6 Preview

 

 

 

 

Just. Win.

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Post-Game Five Links

Post-Game RD 2_GM 5

GAME STORY 

BOXSCORE 

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Interior Division Final: GM 5, Series 2-2

Penticton Vees (6-2-0-1) (44-9-3-2, 1st in Interior)

Vernon Vipers (6-1-0-1) (36-18-1-3, 2nd in Interior)

GM 5 Venue: SOEC

GM 5 Face-Off: 7pm

Season Series: Oct 17th 3-1 Vees, Oct 25th 1-0 Vees, Nov 14th 4-2 Vees, Dec 5th 4-3 Vees, Jan 2nd 3-0 Vees, Feb 11th 2-1 Vipers, Feb 27th 3-2 Vees.

Playoff Series Schedule

Game 1: 4-3 Vees (2 OT)

Game 2: 5-2 Vees

Game 3: 5-2 Vipers

Game 4: 5-2 Vipers

Game 5 March 20th (SOEC) 7pm

Game 6 March 21st (Kal-Tire Place) 6pm

Game 7* March 22nd (SOEC) 6pm

* If necessary

It’s now a best-of-three, as the Penticton Vees and Vernon Vipers are all square at two in their best-of-seven Interior Division Final.

The Vipers evened the series with a pair of home ice wins on Tuesday and Wednesday, winning by identical 5-2 scores. Home ice dominance has been a major storyline in this series, as the home team undefeated through the first four games.

The Vees got out to a good start in game four, as Riley Alferd scored nine-minutes into the first to open up the scoring. The Vipers however responded with two late first period goals, to take a 2-1 lead into the break.

Cody DePourcq brought the Vees back level early in the second, as he fired the puck into an open net after a nice dish from Steen Cooper; DePourcq’s first since February 7th.

Vipers Captain Riley Guenther broke a 2-2 midway through the third period, when he buried a rebound in front of the Vees net. Liam Coughlin then iced the game with a couple freebies into an empty Vees net inside the final minute of the third period.

Wednesday marked just the third time all year the Vees dropped back-to-back games and the first time since February 8th & 11th.

The Vees top-line of Demico Hannoun, Tyson Jost and Patrick Newell are hoping a return home sparks some offense. The three combined for three goals and 11 points in the first two games of the series but were held pointless in the two games in Vernon. Hannoun still leads the Vees in playoff scoring with three goals and 10 points.

The Vipers duo of Liam Coughlin Thomas Aldworth made a significant impact at home, as they paired up for five goals and 11 points in the two wins this week. Their centerman TJ Dumonceaux has chipped in with a pair of assists in the series.

The Vees will look to get their power-play back on track in game five, as it went 0-12 in Vernon after scoring three goals in games one and two; the series has been dominated by the penalty-kill.

Not likely to be any line-up changes between the two teams, as the goaltending match up will be Hunter Miska versus the Vipers Danny Todosychuk.  Todosychuk has won his last two starts after sitting on the sidelines since March 3rd with an undisclosed injury.

What to Watch For

Vees logo

 

 

 

  1. Home Cooking: The Vees look to continue the trend of home ice dominance in the series, as they host Vernon in game five at the SOEC. The home team has won every game in this series and the Vees and Vipers combined are 7-1 on at home in the playoffs. The Vees only blemish in the post-season at the SOEC was 4-3 overtime setback to West Kelowna in the series opener on March 3rd. The Vees have outscored the opposition 22-11 at home in the playoffs and their power-play is better, as it’s 4-22 at the SOEC and so too is the penalty-kill, killing-off 14 of 16 penalties (87.5 %). The Vees have scored all their power-play goals at home and like most teams, look more comfortable on home ice. Can the recapture that swagger they’ve played with before at home? Can they continue to use home ice to their advantage? Going back to Vernon up 3-2 is a whole lot better than going there facing elimination; give yourself some cushion.
  2. Special Teams: I know many, including myself, are tired of talking about special teams in this series but that’s been the difference with two evenly matched teams. The team that has scored a at least one power-play goal per game is 3-1 in this series. So, when teams are neck-and-beck, the deciding factor comes down to what they do when they’re not playing at even strength. In the series, the Vees are 3-23 with the man-advantage and those three goals have come at home, where they got their two wins in this series. If they would have scored a power-play goal in game four, maybe we’re talking about a Vees win and a 3-1 series lead. The Vees power-play might be the deciding factor tonight and they’re going to need to find a way to break through and put a dent into the stingy Vipers PK. It might just be the difference between a win or a loss.
  3. Neutralizing A-D-L: The Vipers top-line of Thomas Aldworth, TJ Dumonceaux and Liam Coughlin have combined for three goals and 11 points in four games. Coughlin and Aldworth were key pieces when the series was in Vernon. Coughlin especially, as he had three goals and six points in games three and four. The Vipers are playing mostly three lines and a lot of that top trio. The Vees, like they did in game two, are going to need to find a way to muzzle the Vipers big guns and force them to play down their line-up. On the flip side, the Vees trio of Demico Hannoun, Tyson Jost and Pat Newell have to be a factor tonight. They were dynamite in games one and two, as they combined for 11 points but were held off the scoresheet in games three and four. Vees big guns, are going to have to out-gun Vernon’s.

Vipers

 

 

 

  1. Bucking the Trend: Can the Vipers be the first road team to pick up a win in the series? They were close in game one, losing in double-overtime but weren’t at their best in game two, losing 5-2. They refocused at home and came out with two really solid outings and evened the series. Now, can they translate that home success on the road? They won both their road games in round one, beating Merritt 1-0 and 6-5, en route to a series sweep.  If the Vipers are going to win tonight, they’ll have to be more disciplined than they were in games one and two. The Vipers took 11 penalties in those two games, seven in game two, as they spent a lot of time in the penalty-box. Do we see the Vipers squad we saw in Vernon, or the one we saw in games one and two?
  2. Secondary Scoring: I’ve talked about how good that Vipers top-line has been but they’re getting some pretty solid production out of a new second-line unit. Luke Voltin, Colton McCarthy and Riley Brandt have emerged as a nice compliment to the Aldworth, Coughlin and Dumonceaux trio. Brandt, McCarthy and Voltin have combined for three goals and eight points in four games. That’s the same production the Vees are getting out of Connor Chartier, Dakota Conroy and Lewis Zerter-Gossage; so they’re a legit second-line now. Those three for Vernon have been key because Liam Finlay hasn’t dressed the last two games because of injury. They’re not only brash, in-your-face players but a line that is showing they can put up numbers. The key for Vernon is to have those three to keep focused on the points and not the PIMS. We’ve seen McCarthy and Brandt run into some penalty trouble in this series. The Vipers will need that line to make an impact again tonight.
  3. More of the Same: Danny Todosychuk has been a nice story for the Vipers. The 20-year-old Vernon, BC, product came in to start game three and has never looked back. He’s 2-0 in the playoffs and has a sparkling .944 save-percentage in three starts. He was injured in the playoff opener on March 3rd, and didn’t play again for two weeks. He has allowed only two goals in his two starts and, despite not looking 100 percent healthy, has help the Vees offense at bay. He’s made some great stops in games three and four and is doing more than enough to put his team in a position to win. He now gets his first road start and can he continue that high level of play in Penticton? He did pick up a win in Penticton on February 11th, a 2-1 result and he was named first star after stopping 39 of 40 shots. Can the Vipers get that again tonight?
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