Mat Robson does not fear Jordan Kawaguchi, the B.C. Hockey League’s leading sniper in the playoffs.
Even if the Chilliwack Chiefs captain is scoring at nearly a goal-a-game clip (12 in 16).
“I’m definitely looking forward to shutting them down,” said the Vees goalie Robson, just days before the Fred Page Cup Final was set to begin in Chilliwack on Friday and Saturday. “This is why we play the game. For these big stages, these big moments. I like to think the best players come through in the clutch. Like I’ve said to our guys before, pressure creates diamonds. What we have here, we have a precious situation and it can create something special within our room. It’s not just going to be me shutting them down. It’s going to be a 20-man effort to shut down their team top to bottom.”
In the regular season, the Vees won both meetings. The last was the Vees’ final regular season game, a 3-0 shutout in which Robson turned aside 27 shots.
“We’re definitely expecting a very speedy, skilled team,” said Robson, who will join the Minnesota Golden Gophers next fall. “That’s what we have seen from them from our two previous meetings. We think we match up well against that. We have just as much skill and just as much speed, if not more. I like where we’re at with our team.”
Robson also realizes the Chiefs are on a roll, dispatching the Victoria Grizzlies in six games after punting the BCHL’s top team, the Wenatchee Wild in four. In goal, Mark Sinclair, committed to the University of Alabama Huntsville, is second in goals against average at 2.02 and has a .927 save percentage. Robson has a 2.22 goals against average and .921 save percentage.
Robson will also lean on his past experience when he won the Ontario Junior Hockey League championship with the Toronto Patriots in 2015 for success in this series. Robson let his teammates know that series started with a 6-1 loss for the Patriots.
“Things weren’t looking very good. There are ups and downs in a series,” the 20-year-old said. “One game isn’t going to win you a series. One game isn’t going to lose you a series. You got to make the other team earn all four. You can’t afford to give any away. I’ll be using that experience to keep a cool head. Kind of just enjoy the ride. Everyone is dialed in and ready to go for this final series.”
Games three and four of the Fred Page Cup return to Penticton on April 18 and 19 at the South Okanagan Events Centre at 7 p.m.
With the Vees advancing to the BCHL Final, and being hosts of the Western Canada Cup (WCC), they helped the Chiefs earn an automatic spot in the WCC.
Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson said the team used the days leading up to the Fred Page Cup to fine tune things.
“We want to continue the momentum from the last series,” he said.
Harbinson also said on Friday they would learn if defenceman Sam Rossini would be cleared for contact. Rossini missed the entire season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury. If he is given clearance, he would be available to play in Game 3. That would give Harbinson and his coaching staff a decision to make, but it is one he welcomes.
“It’s outstanding to have that decision,” said Harbinson, who didn’t have that luxury last year.
On Wednesday, the Vees announced single-game tickets for the 2017 WCC, presented by Sun Life Financial, are on sale to the public.
There are three pricing structures for single-game WCC tickets, as Vees round-robin games will be $20 for adults and seniors, and non-Vees round-robin games will be $15. Tickets for the WCC Championship game and the RBC Cup “Play-In” game are $25. Local students and children (18 and under) are free courtesy of Peter Bros. Construction. Single game tickets can be purchased at the Valley First box office, or online at www.valleyfirsttix.com.