Vees Hosting International Exhibition at SOEC

Red Bull Salzberg

The Vees, in conjunction with the BCHL, announced a special international exhibition game coming to the SOEC in January. Austrian hockey club EC Red Bull Salzburg (Under-20 team), will play the Vees in an exhibition game on Wednesday, January 20th. Details of the game and the exhibition series is below.

Press Release:

The Penticton Vees Jr ‘A’ Hockey Club, in conjunction with the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) are pleased to announce a special international exhibition game coming to the SOEC on Wednesday, January 20th.

 Hockey club Red Bull Salzburg (Under-20 team) will be coming to the South Okanagan in late January, as part of a BCHL exhibition tour by the Austrian club’s youth team. Other dates and BCHL opponents for this tour are still being finalized. The Red Bull Salzburg club will be arriving in B.C. on Jan. 15 and leaving on January 28. It is expected they will be playing four or five games against BCHL teams.

Tickets for the Vees games against Red Bull Salzburg are priced at just $5 for adults and seniors and students and children (18 and under) are free, courtesy of Peters Brothers Construction. Tickets for the game will go on sale next Tuesday, December 15th, and season ticket holders will have two weeks to reserve their seat(s) for the game.

 The last time an international club came through the BCHL was in the 2009-10 season when the Malmo Redhawks of Sweden played in Powell River, Alberni Valley and Nanaimo. In 2008-09, the Sweden U18 side featuring Colorado Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog played a series of exhibition games against BCHL teams.

The Red Bull Salzburg club, like the BCHL teams they’ll face, will include players born anywhere from 1995 to 1999. Most of the players are Austrian but there are some German-born players as well.

“We very much look forward to hosting Red Bull Salzburg in January,” said BCHL commissioner John Grisdale. “This is a first-rate organization and I know the club they’re sending will provide a true test for our teams and great entertainment for our fans.”

Red Bull Salzburg has several familiar faces in its executive including club director and former NHL head coach Pierre Pagé and skills coach, former NCAA star and NHLer Brian Savage.

Other BCHL teams that will be hosting games against Red Bull Salzburg will be making their own announcements when the dates and times are determined.

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Vees Still Atop of CJHL Top 20 Rankings

CJHL Top 20

After putting together a five-game win streak and winning two of their three games last week, the Penticton Vees remain atop of the CJHL Top 20 Weekly Rankings. It’s the sixth straight week the Vees have occupied the top spot.

Also cracking the list is the red-hot Nanaimo Clippers, who’ve won nine in a row and the Chilliwack Chiefs are the other two BCHL teams to crack the list.

From the CJHL:

Another strong week in the CJHL has wrapped up and new teams such as the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL, and the Dieppe Commandos of the Maritime Hockey League have cracked the Top 20 Rankings with strong play and winning records of late..

The Penticton Vees of the BCHL hold on as Canada’s top Junior ‘A’ team, while the Chilliwack Chiefs and the aforementioned Clippers round out the top three spots in the BCHL.

The Spruce Grove Saints and Lloydminster Bobcats continue to be pursued by the Whitecourt Wolverines in the AJHL’s Viterra North Division, and the Brooks Bandits move forward to 13th overall in the CJHL Rankings and top spot in the AJHL’s Viterra South Division.

The Melfort Mustangs continue to dominate the SJHL, while the Portage Terriers and Winkler Flyers remain at the top of the MJHL, but 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 the Cochrane Crunch are continuing to move ahead of the rest of the NOJHL.

Despite a strong effort lately by the OJHL’s Kingston Voyageurs, the Trenton Golden Hawks are still the class of the OJHL, while the Carleton Place Canadians and the Cumberland Grads continue to strengthen their positioning in the overall standings of the CCHL.

The College Francais de Longueuil have gained some room atop the standings in the QJHL and are followed closely by the Montagnards de Sainte-Agathe, and Les Cobras de Terrebonne.

The Dieppe Commandos have jumped into a tie with the Summerside Western Capitals in the overall standings in the Maritme Hockey League, by virtue of a nice overtime victory over Summerside this past week.

Top 20 Rankings

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

Honourable Mention: Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL), Steinbach Pistons (MJHL), Dryden Ice Dogs (SIJHL), Kingston Voyageurs (OJHL), Summerside Western Capitals (MHL)

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Post-Game Blog: Vees, Bulldogs Battle to 4-4 Draw

Post-Game Chart Dec 5

GAME RECAP 

BOXSCORE

HIGHLIGHTS 

(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:
  • 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.

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Blog Preview: Vees, Vipers Meet Again at SOEC

Dec 4

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(Photos Courtesy of: Jack Murray)

  • The Vees and Vernon Vipers meet again, just nine days after the Vees toppled the Vipes 4-3 in OT last week. Down 3-1 in the third, Chris Gerrie and Scott Conway, late, scored to tie it up and force overtime. Conway was the hero in OT, again, scoring three-minutes into four-on-four. Need a refresher? Watch the highlights here.
  • The Vees have won the first two games of the season series, both those at the SOEC as well. So far, it’s been close, as the Vees two wins were both by one goal. They downed the Vipers 3-2 in their home opener and most recently last Wednesday 4-3. The rivalry picks up after laying dormant for most of the season. In the first 11 weeks these two teams met just once, and starting tonight, they’ll play three times in the next five weeks; four weeks if you take out the Christmas break. After tonight, the Vees head to Vernon for the first time on December 15th and then the two teams ring in New Year at Kal-Tire place on January 1st.
  • Even though the Vees’ well documented win streak ended three weeks ago, they still have one going at home. Going into the weekend, the Vees are the only remaining undefeated team at home this season, posting a 15-0 record; 14 wins coming at the SOEC. If you go back to last season, the Vees have won 19 straight regular season games at home. Oddly enough, the last loss at home came against Vernon, way back on February 11th, the Vipers taking a 2-1 decision. One could argue the Vipers have come the closest to beating the Vees at the SOEC this season.
  • Speaking of the Vees’ home record, all-time at the SOEC, in 216 games, they’re now 171-30-4-11. That’s an .826 winning percentage since the building opened in September of 2008. The Vees are 8-2 in their last 10 home games against Vernon and if you go back to last season, the Vees are 8-1 in the regular season against the Vipers.
  • Prior to the game the Vees will have a short presentation for their Player of the Month award for November. Now, I won’t play spoiler, as you’ll have to come to the game to find out, or tune-in on the radio / Fasthockey. But, I will point out two candidates for the award. Anthony Brodeur was sensational last month, going 5-0 in five starts and posting a 1.34 goals-against average and sparkling .955 save percentage; he had one shutout too. The other contender is Captain Tyson Jost, who racked up 27 points in just 10 games; eight of those were goals. Jost had six multi-point games in November and pushed his point streak to 16-games at the end of the month.
  • Jost carries a 17-game point streak into tonight’s game, a streak which dates back all the way to October 17th; he wears that number too. Odd coincidence. He scored his 24th goal of the season on Wednesday, which is a new career high for him and surpasses last year’s team-best too. Jost isn’t just excelling at the offensive end, as he was on the ice for only one, ONE, even-strength goal-against in the month of November. Griffin Mendel and him both a team-best in the category. So, in 10 games last month, outside of the PK, he was only on the ice for one opposition goal; he takes care of his own end too That nugget courtesy of Steven Cocker in the Vees’ Hockey Operations department.
  • Jost has been a thorn in the Vipers side this year, like he has for most teams, but no player has caused more trouble for Vernon than Scott Conway. The 20-year-old has back-to-back two-goal games against Vernon and has scored both game-winners so far. He’s responsible for three key goals if you factor in the game-tying goal he scored last Wednesday. On the Vernon side, Liam Finlay has been at the source of the Vipers offense, not only all season, but against the Vees. He has four assists in two games and his teammate Odeen Tufto has a goal and three points.
  • Zach Driscoll will get the start in goal for the Vees, his third straight start but his first against Vernon this year. Driscoll is 10-1 on the year, sporting a 1.91 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage. Anthony Brodeur was nursing a minor ailment this week, as he was given a couple of days off but he might start tomorrow against Alberni Valley. Despite the 5-3 win two nights ago against Merritt, Driscoll was one of the Vees best players. He stopped 13-shots in the first period and 31 of 34 in total. If he wasn’t at his best in that opening frame, the score could have been much different.
  • The Vees will ice the same line-up as they did on Wednesday. One line that could be the “x-factor” tonight is the 20-year-old trio of Mitch Brooks, Demico Hannoun and Luke Voltin. The three veterans have so far combined for four goals and 10 points in two games. They’ve brought a noticeable spark to the line-up and the Vees will need that energy again tonight against a hungry Vernon team.
  • One forward to keep tabs on will be Nicholas Jones. He has eight points in three games and has scored in three straight; he has also scored the Vees’ first goal in back-to-back games. Once Jost leaves for the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge, Jones will move up with the top-line and be a center piece to the Vees offense. It seems like he’s playing with a chip on his shoulder and the Vees hope that continues tonight.
  • Another area of focus tonight will be the start. The Vees had a much better start Saturday, outscoring Trail 2-0 and they outscored Merritt 3-0 in the first period Wednesday. Vernon’s first periods have been somewhat of an issue in the last three, as they’ve been outscored 8-1 in the first twenty-minutes, going back to November 27th. The Vees had a slow start against Vernon, as they trailed 1-0 after one and 2-1 after two. Why is the start so important? Well, the Vees are 22-0 when they score first and the Vipers are 7-4-0-2 when they get the game’s first goal. When the Vees take a lead into the first intermission, they’re 13-0-0, whereas the Vipers are 6-2-0-1. The first period might be everything tonight.

 

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Post-Game Blog: Hot Start Pushes Vees Past Cents’

Dec 2

GAME RECAP

BOXSCORE 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 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.
  • 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:

IMG_0023

  • 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.

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Blog Preview: Vees Continue Home Stand versus Merritt

Dec 2

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  • The Vees five-game home stand continues tonight, when the Merritt Centennials stroll into town, on another “Wicked Wednesday” (Tickets $5, beer $3.75). The Vees started the home stand with wins over Vernon (4-3 OT) and Trail (8-1) last Wednesday and Saturday respectively, and it wraps up with games against Vernon (Friday) and Alberni Valley (Saturday) this weekend. The Vees are the only remaining team that hasn’t lost at home this season, sporting a 14-0 record and they’re 13-0 at the SOEC this season; one “home” win came at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack.
  • Merritt snapped a six-game losing skid on Saturday, going down to Langley and surprising the Rivermen with a 2-1 road win. That’s not a slight to Merritt but they had lost their previous six going into that game and were coming off an 11-8 loss at home to Surrey three nights earlier. The Cents’ are in the middle of a stretch that seems them play six of seven on the road. After tonight they return home Saturday to face West Kelowna, before heading out on a 3-game Island Division road trip next weekend. Yes, Merritt has struggled this year but they actually have a better road record (5-9-0-0), than home record (4-10-0-2).
  • Like Trail last Saturday, the Vees have had the advantage in the season series leading up to tonight’s game. Penticton is 3-0 against the Cents’ this year and have won the previous two games at the SOEC by a combined score of 11-2. They last met Merritt on Halloween weekend, when the Vees swept the Cents’, winning 5-0 at home before picking up an 8-4 road win on Halloween night. The Vees have also had their way with the Interior Division, owning a 12-1 record and are 7-0 at home against the Interior. The Cents’ meanwhile have struggled with the Interior, posting a 5-13-0-1 record in 19 games. Their biggest Achilles heel has been the Smokies, as they’re 0-4 against Trail this season.
  • Steering the conversation away from the game for a moment, International Scouting Services (ISS) came out with its latest draft rankings for December, and the Vees Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro are still projected as top 15 picks. Jost climbed up four spots this month to 13th, as he leads the BCHL in scoring with 57 points in 28 games. Jost is the second highest non-CHL player ranked in the draft. Fabbro slipped two spots to 15th but is the third-highest ranked defenseman and is the leading scorer among defensemen not just in the BCHL but the entire Canadian Junior Hockey League; he has 37 points in just 22 games. The complete ISS rankings for December can be found here.
  • Speaking of Fabbro, Andrew Schopp over at the scouting service, FutureConsiderations, profiled the Vees blue-liner in a recent article for their website. It’s a good read and you can find that by clicking here. 
  • One more tid-bit comes from the Minnesota Wild, as they announced today they’ve recalled defenseman and former Penticton Vee, Mike Reilly, from their affiliate in Iowa. Reilly is in his first pro season in the AHL and has nine points on the year. Wild beat writer, Michael Russo, has a story on today’s development. Read here.
  • Back to tonight’s game and there’s a piece of good news when it comes to the line-up. Easton Brodzinski will dress tonight and will be reunited with line-mates Tyson Jost and Scott Conway. Brodzinski had missed the last two games with a lingering lower-body injury that he had to get treated for. Not only does his return reunite one of the best lines in the BCHL, but it’s also a big boost for the BCHL’s best power-play. Brodzinski leads the entire league in power-play goals with 12.
  • Brodzinski back means a bit of line shuffling, back to what it was before. Owen Sillinger moves back to the wing and he and Chris Gerrie will be centered by Nicholas Jones. Ben Brar moves back to play alongside Desi Burgart and Taylor Ward, and Luke Voltin’s line of he, Mitch Brooks and Demico Hannoun remains intact. The Vees are still without Dixon Bowen up front but you got to like how things are shaping up with their forwards. Burgart and Ward scored Saturday and played with a lot of confidence and you hope that can continue tonight. I think the Voltin line, all 20-year-olds, is due for a breakout performance; well they did have six points Saturday. Still a lot of depth upfront, despite injuries.
  • Zach Driscoll gets the call between the pipes tonight and picked up his ninth win on the season last Saturday, stopping 27 of 28 shots. He’s 9-1 on the year with a 1.80 goals-against average and owns a .939 save percentage; second to only teammate Anthony Brodeur. Brodeur will likely get the start Friday, as he gets a “maintenance day.”
  • Another small piece of good news was the fact defenseman Gabe Bast skated this morning with the team, as he continues to rehab from a lower-body injury. Bast hasn’t played since September 25th and this morning’s skate was “light” but it’s a least a step, all be it a small one, in the right direction. He and Seamus Donohue are still targeting post-Christmas Break returns.
  • It sounds cliché and seems quite obvious but the Cents’ will want to keep this game at even-strength for long as possible. The Vees own the league’s best power-play and have carved the Cents’ PK in the season series. In three games, the Vees are 9-15 on the man-advantage. They went 5-7 in their last meeting with Merritt and the Cents’ PK ranks last in the league at just over 66 percent; they’re nine percentage points behind the next closest team (PG).
  • Scott Conway and Tyson Jost carry lengthy point streaks into tonight’s game, as Conway has points in 25 straight games, the longest active point streak in the BCHL. Conway had four goals and six points in two games last week, as he was given an Honourable Mention for the BCHL Player of the Week award on Monday. Jost has points in his last 16 games and had 27 points in 10 games in November.
  • The Vees are 170-30-4-11 all-time at the SOEC since the 2008-09 season and have won seven straight regular season games against Merritt at home. The Cents’ haven’t had a whole lot of good fortunate in Penticton, as they’re 5-19-0-2 in 26 regular season games since the SOEC opened. But, as I’ve wrote before, tonight could be labeled as a “trap game.” The Vees can’t look past Merritt and think about the rematch with Vernon. If that happens, they’ll get burned.
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Vees Week in Review: Nov 23-29

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The Penticton Vees continued their winning ways, picking up two more wins last week, they’re still number one in the country, two Vees are off to represent Canada at the World Junior A Challenge, a monthly honour for the Captain and milestones for alumni, in this edition of the “Vees Week in Review.”

Two Up, Two Down

The Vees started their five-game home stand last week on a winning note, picking up a pair of wins over Vernon and Trail at the SOEC. First, it was a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win against the Vipers Wednesday, followed by an 8-1 drubbing of the Smoke Eaters Saturday.

Scott Conway scored the game-tying and game winning goals in the Vees comeback win against Vernon. Penticton trailed 3-1 in the third period, before Chris Gerrie and Conway scored to tie the game. Conway then was the hero, again, in overtime, scoring three-minutes into the extra frame.

Saturday the Vees overwhelmed the Smoke Eaters, scoring a lopsided win to end the week. The Vees blew the game wide open in the second period against Trail, scoring three times in just over three minutes to go up by five, and had a 6-1 lead after two. They added two more in the third period to cruise to the 8-1 victory. Conway led the way again, scoring twice and finished with a game-high four points.

On Deck

The home stand continues this week, with three more games at the SOEC and it gets going Wednesday, when the Vees host the Merritt Centennials. Wednesday will be the fourth meeting between the two teams this season, with the Vees winning the previous three over the Cents’, but Merritt is coming off a road win in Langley last Saturday.

Then it’s back-to-back games against Vernon and Alberni Valley Friday and Saturday night. Nine days after beating the Vipers in OT, the Vees welcome back their Okanagan rivals to the SOEC on December 4th. Then the Bulldogs make a stop in Penticton on December 5th, on their Interior Division road swing. The Vees last met the Bulldogs on September 24th, a 4-1 win, at the BCHL Showcase in Chilliwack.

Penticton enters this week with a 26-2-0-0 record, first overall in the BCHL and they’re undefeated at home, sporting a 14-0-0 record.

Making the Honour Roll

Scott Conway’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed by the league office, as the Vees forward was given an Honourable Mention for the BCHL Player of the Week award, for the week ending November 29th.

Conway, who’s twice been named the Player of the Week, had four goals and six points in two games last week. He had two goals in the Vees OT win over Vernon and another two goals and four points, in the Vees thumping of Trail. Conway was named the game’s third star Wednesday and was the first star on Saturday night. Conway is third in league scoring with 23 goals and 54 points, just three back of his teammate Tyson Jost for top spot.

 Go West, Young Men

Captain Tyson Jost and his Assistant, Dante Fabbro, were among 18 BCHL hopefuls selected for Team Canada West Camp for the 2015 World Junior ‘A’ Challenge.

In total, 60 players were invited to Canada West Camp in Leduc, Alberta from December 5th-8th. Canada West’s roster will be selected from players in the BCHL, Alberta Junior Hockey League, Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League, Manitoba Junior Hockey League and Superior International Junior Hockey League.

Jost and Fabbro played on Canada West last year and are locks to make this year’s squad, which will compete for gold in Whitby and Cobourg, Ontario, from December 13th-19th. Canada West last won gold in 2011, when the event was held in Langley, BC.

Another Week, Another Top Billing

For the fifth straight week, the Vees are the top ranked team in the CJHL Top 20 weekly rankings. The Vees have held down the top spot since November 2nd, and if you include the pre-season rankings, the Vees have held the number one ranking for six weeks this season.

Salmon Arm (14) and Chilliwack (15) are the other two BCHL teams ranked this week.

Alumni Update

Quinnipiac senior goaltender Mike Garteig (2012) hit a milestone this week, as he tied the program’s all-time wins record of 59, after the Bobcats swept Massachusetts. The milestone win came Saturday, as Garteig and Quinnipiac shutout the Minutemen 1-0. Garteig made 28-saves for his fifth shutout of the season. Garteig leads the country in wins (13), is second in shutouts (5) and fourth in save percentage (.946).

Travis St. Denis (2012) had a pair of assists in the Bobcats 4-1 win Friday night against UMass.

Joey Benik (2011-2012) and Patrick Newell (2015) helped the St. Cloud State Huskies to a weekend sweep, on the road, over the Minnesota Gophers. Benik picked up a goal and Newell had a helper in the Huskies 3-2 win Friday night, then the two combined for three assists in SCSU’s 7-4 win Sunday afternoon. Benik is tied for 14th in the country in goal-scoring with eight.

Speaking of Benik, Mick Hatten of the St. Cloud Times recently profiled the Huskies Sniper. The article can be found here.

Lewis Zerter-Gossage (2015) won’t soon forget Harvard’s win in South Bend, Indiana, Friday. The freshman forward scored his first career NCAA goal, as Harvard knocked-off Notre Dame 4-1. Mario Lucia (2012) scored the only goal for ND in the loss.

Bryce Gervais (2012) was all over the scoresheet for Minnesota State on the weekend, as the Mavericks swept Alaska-Anchorage at home. Friday Gervais has a goal in the Mavs’ 2-0 win over the Seawolves, and then on Saturday he had a pair of goals as Minnesota State thumped UAA 6-2.

On Sunday, Troy Stecher (2011-2013) had an assist in North Dakota’s 4-1 road win at Michigan State, as the Fighting Hawks swept the Spartans; Stecher is tied for 12th in scoring by defensemen in the NCAA, with three goals and 13 points.

Curtis Loik (2011-2012) had an assist in Penn State’s 4-0 win over Mike Lee (2015), Travis Blanleil (2013-2014) and Vermont on Sunday, at the Philadelphia College Hockey Face-Off, at the Wells Fargo Center.

Joey Laleggia (2010-2011) had a big game for the Bakersfield Condors in the American Hockey League last week, as he scored and finished with three points in a 6-5 win over Stockton last Tuesday. Laleggia has six points in 15 games and is a plus five with the Edmonton Oilers farm team.

Curtis McKenzie’s (2007-2009) stint in the AHL after a long-term injury is off to a good start, as he scored in the Texas Stars’ 3-2 win over the San Jose Barracuda on Sunday. McKenzie has six points in eight games with the Dallas Stars’ affiliate, after missing a month with a hip injury.

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Vees Remain Top Ranked Team in CJHL

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After winning their two games last week and improving their record to 26-2-0-0, the Vees remain the top ranked team in the country. For the fifth straight week, the Vees are ranked number one in the CJHL Top 20 Weekly Rankings.

An interesting note, that the five-team field from last year’s RBC Cup in Portage, Manitoba, is in the Top 20 rankings this week; four of the five in the top 10. Penticton (2), Soo Thunderbirds (2) Portage Terriers (5), Carleton Place Canadians (10) and Melfort Mustangs (11) are national ranked again this week.

Salmon Arm (14) and Chilliwack (15) are the other two BCHL teams to crack the list this week.

From the CJHL:

As the top players in the CJHL prepare for upcoming Selection Camps for the upcoming World Junior A Challenge in Coburg and Whitby in December, the final week of November saw several moves by top teams in the CJHL both upwards and downwards, as the competition for placement in standings intensifies.

The Penticton Vees continue another week as Canada’s top Junior ‘A’ team, while the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and the Chilliwack Chiefs round out the top three spots in the BCHL.

The Spruce Grove Saints and Lloydminster Bobcats are being pursued by the Whitecourt Wolverines in the AJHL’s VIterra North Division, and the Brooks Bandits move forward from an Honourable Mention to the top spot in the Viterra South Division.

The Melfort Mustangs continue to dominate the SJHL, while the Portage Terriers and Winkler Flyers remain the cream of the crop in the MJHL, however, the Steinbach Pistons are beginning to close in on  both them in the 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 beginning to separate themselves from the rest of the NOJHL.

The Trenton Golden Hawks are running away with the lead from the rest of the OJHL, while the Carleton Place Canadians and the Cumberland Grads have strengthened their positioning in the overall standings of the CCHL.

The College Francais de Longueuil, and the Montagnards de Sainte-Agathe remain in a dogfight for the top spot in the QJHL, but are followed closely by Les Cobras de Terrebonne.

The Summerside Western Capitals continue to roll along atop the overall standings in the MHL, where a mere four points separate four teams from second place overall.

Top 20 Rankings

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

Honourable Mention: Battlefords North Stars (SJHL), Weyburn Red Wings (SJHL), Steinbach Pistons (MJHL), Brockville Braves (CCHL), Ottawa Jr. ‘A’ Senators (CCHL) 

 

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Post-Game Blog: Gr-Eight Scott! Conway, Vees Torch Trail

Post-Game Chart Nov 28

GAME RECAP

BOXSCORE 

HIGHLIGHTS 

(Demico Hannoun, left, and Scott Conway had big nights Saturday)

  • If you recognized the Back to the Future reference in the title of the blog, then take a bow. Doc Brown had the trademark line “Great Scott!” in the series and it could have been applied Saturday to the Vees win over Trail and the performance of Scott Conway. The Vees torched the Smokies for eight goals and Conway had a game-high four points in the win. Saturday was the second time in just THREE games the Vees have scored eight in a game and third time this season. Also, they’ve now outscored Trail 26-6 through four games this season and 21-3 in just the last three games in the season series. Wrap your head around that.
  • It wasn’t just Conway on Saturday and that’s what made the win so satisfying for the team. Six different players scored and all four lines had at least on goal in the game. Depth players like Mitch Brooks, Desi Burgart and Taylor Ward all found the scoresheet, as it was not just the veterans contributing either. Five rookies combined for two goals and six points in the win, as Burgart led the young pups with a goal and an assist. There wasn’t one weak link on Saturday as the Vees got contributions from up and down their line-up and even from their blue-line, as they combined for eight points, all assists, in the win. In all, once scoring corrections are submitted, 14 of the Vees 18 skaters on Saturday had at least a single point; that’s what you call a team effort.
  • Before the game, the message was energy. The coaches wanted their team to play with a lot more energy Saturday after it was noticeably missing in their game against Vernon Wednesday. The very first shift of the game was a tone setter, as the line of Mitch Brooks, Demico Hannoun and Luke Voltin went right into the Trail zone, threw their weight around and ate up some clock; the standard was set. The day off Thursday and no game Friday, definitely helped the Vees but they still made the conscious effort to  play at a higher pace than they did the game before and it paid dividends Saturday. Trail, who played in Wenatchee Friday, had trouble keeping up with the Vees speed early and that got them into trouble as the game went on; a bit road weary too. It’s great to watch a plan come together and then get executed very well. It’s not only satisfactory for the coaches to see their team go about the plan that was laid out before them, but it shows the players the benefits of sticking to the plan at hand. The coaches wanted more energy, quicker pace and that netted not only the win but eight goals. At this level, keeping you feet constantly moving, shift by shift, is what separates the good teams from the great teams. No let downs from the Vees last night.
  • Speaking of moving their feet, Demico Hannoun arguably is one of the best players in the BCHL when he’s playing a top speed. When the 20-year-old is going, keeping his feet moving, shift after shift, he’s hard to stop. Just look at his second goal of the game Saturday, as he blazes down the left-wing, beats the defenseman wide, and in one fluid motion, the right-handed shot forward turns the puck back onto his forehand and as he’s about to go around the net, he flips it over the goalie’s glove on the far-side. Patented Hannoun dangle. I’ve written about how well-rounded his game has become this year but it’s nice to see him finding the offensive touch again and consistently; three goals in three games for the 20-year-old.
  • I really liked the line Hannoun was playing on with fellow 20-year-olds in Brooks and Voltin. As Brooks dubbed it post-game, the “Old Boys Club.” The three veteran players had a very effective game Saturday, combining for three goals and six points; all three had two-point nights. They were hard in on the fore-check, played a heavy game and didn’t cut corners in their own end. An example? With the score 8-1 Vees, I watched Brooks bust his butt to get back to the back-post and break up a pass across for Trail’s Evan MacEachern. A small thing like that is what makes coaches smile. Great example set by a 20-year-old in Brooks, showing he’s not cutting corners, no matter the score.
  • Staying with the veterans, how about the pass by Voltin to Scott Conway, that eventually led to the Nicholas Jones opening goal? Voltin, from his own left-circle, fires a saucer pass all the way out to the far-side of the neutral zone, that lands right on the tape of Conway’s stick. Conway then moved in and found Jones at the back-post. That was purty.
  • Scott Conway is rounding into form and that’s scary, considering he’s still be putting up points. Conway was back to his usual self on Saturday, making plays, hounding the puck and being a factor at both ends of the ice. He had two great setups on the Vees’ two first goals, dishing great passes to Nicholas Jones and Hannoun. Then, he sniped top corner on his first goal of the second period, then rolled his sleeves up, went to a greasy area and banged-in his second. He was good in his own end too, breaking up plays and getting in on the back-check. The key to the Vees is their best players are their hardest-working players.
  • Another check-mark? Their start. Going into Saturday’s game, the Vees had given up the game’s first goal in three straight. Well, that Jones goal came 64-seconds into the game, on their first shot, then they added a power-play marker late to take a two-goal lead into the break. Big, because the Vees are now 21-0 when they scored first and 12-0 when they lead after 20-minutes.
  • Quietly (?) Dante Fabbro picked up three assists Saturday and now is fifth in BCHL scoring with 37 points in just 22 games. That’s fifth overall, as in, only four forwards in the entire league have more points than him. Decent.
  • Talked about young guys earlier and it was great to see Taylor Ward have a big night. A 17-year-old rookie and a guy playing a depth role but he had a big impact Saturday. Scores a beauty of a goal, a rocket from the right-wing circle and then has a great scrap with Trail’s John Laurito. Well, he even drew a penalty right after his goal, that to Mitch Brooks making it 4-0. Big confidence boost for “Wardo” and for the team as well, when young guys like him can be a spark plug. Here’s his goal:

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Blog Preview: Vees Looking to Stay Perfect at Home vs. Smokies

Nov 28

LISTEN LIVE 

WATCH

  • The Penticton Vees continue their five-game home stand tonight, when they host the Trail Smoke Eaters at the SOEC; face-off 6 pm. The Vees had Friday off after winning 4-3 in OT over the Vernon Vipers Wednesday. Trail went across the border last night and picked up a 4-2 win in Wenatchee. The Vees play again Wednesday against Merritt and the Smokies hit the road again to West Kelowna on Tuesday.
  • Tonight is the fourth meeting between the two teams and the Vees have won the first three, two in Trail. They won in Penticton 4-3 back on October 7th, and picked up two lopsided wins at Cominco Arena, 6-1 on November 1st and 7-1 on November 10th. Those last two wins are impressive, not only by the combined 13-2 score but the Vees historically have had trouble in Trail over the years. After tonight, they play each other three more times, twice in Penticton and those coming in late January and in mid-February. The last two years the Vees have had their way with Trail, as they were 6-0-0-1 against them in seven games last season.
  • How good have the Vees been at home? Well, they’ve won 17 straight regular season home games going back to February 11th, 2015. In their last 30 regular season home games, they’re 27-0-1-2. That’s OK.
  • The Vees did get some good news with their roster, as Ben Brar is back after serving a two-game suspension, under the Jr. ‘A’ Supplement. Brar was handed the two-game ban after taking a major penalty for checking from behind against Langley. Dixon Bowen and Easton Brodzinski are still out with upper and lower body injuries respectively. Brodzinski could be back next Wednesday but that’s just speculation at this point. Gabe Bast and Seamus Donohue are nursing longer-term injuries and both are targeting post-Christmas returns. Well, Bast has been cleared to resume “light skating” and might have a chance to play before the Christmas break but that’s a slim possibility at this point.
  • The Vees will go with 11 forwards and six defensemen tonight. Tyson Jost, Owen Sillinger or Luke Voltin will take turns centering the Vees fourth line. Nicholas Jones moves up to play with Jost and Scott Conway, Owen Sillinger will center Ben Brar and Chris Gerrie, and Demico Hannoun slides over to the left-wing, with Voltin in the middle and Mitch Brooks on the right-side.
  • Another streak going is the respective point streaks for Scott Conway and Tyson Jost. Conway has points in 24 straight games and Jost 15. Conway’s stretches all the way back to September 16th, and Jost has 14 goals and 33 points during his streak. It’s been awfully entertaining, watching him and Nanaimo’s Sheldon Rempal battle for the BCHL scoring lead. Entering tonight’s action, both have 56 points but Rempal has the tie-breaker with 28 goals.
  • Zach Driscoll will get the start in net for the Vees and will be highly motivated. Driscoll was unfortunately saddled with his first loss last Friday in Langley and will want to put that behind him and in a hurry. His numbers are still excellent, as he’s 8-1 on the year .936 save percentage and 1.89 goals-against average. He’s been spectacular against Trail this year too, going 2-0, while posting a eye-popping .974 save percentage in those two starts.
  • Where Driscoll has excelled against Trail, Bailey MacBurnie hasn’t against Penticton. The 20-year-old is 0-2 against the Vees with some inflated stats. He sports a 6.45 goals-against average and a .731 save percentage in just 65-minutes against Penticton. He took the loss on October 7th, and was hooked after just six-minutes against the Vees on November 10th; three goals on the first four shots. He’s be sound otherwise on the year, and has won two of his last three starts. He was the second star in Wenatchee last night and I’m sure he’ll be motivated to show his worth against the Vees tonight.
  • The start will be my focus tonight, as it’s come under some scrutiny of late. The Vees have given up the first goal of the game in three straight and four of their last five. They’ve trailed or were tied after the first period in three of those five games. Yes, they’ve won four of those five and it looks like I might be splitting hairs, but the coaching staff has reiterated they need to establish good habits now, as they’re “trying to get better every day.” The stats don’t lie either, the Vees are 20-0 when they score first and 11-0 when they lead after one. When they get scored on first they’re 5-2, not bad and 2-1 when trailing after one. Still solid but that’s a big difference. Plus, Trail had a great start against Wenatchee last night, scoring three goals in less than three-minutes to start the game. The Vees better be ready right at puck drop.
  • Cherry Lane Shopping Centre pre-game show goes at 5:40 pm, play-by-play at 6 pm on EZ Rock AM 800, and on http://www.fasthockey.com
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