Outside the Penticton Vees dressing room is a sign saying “Home ice is an advantage” accompanied by the Vees’ record in the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Thus far in their second round series against the Vernon Vipers, that advantage hasn’t been completely evident. In either building. Both teams stole the opening game. It also makes it difficult to predict what will happen in what has turned into a best-of-three series.
I’m not making any predictions. Back in my Camosun College days, I was part of a radio talk show called All-Star Sports on the campus’ CKMO station, formerly known as Village 900 AM. One of the things I enjoyed doing on the show were my NHL picks. I wasn’t very good. That is an understatement. I downright stunk at it. A mutual friend who listened used to make picks on Sports Action and chose the opposite of what I did.
My only prediction, when it came to this BCHL series, is that it would likely go the distance. Yeah, I’m the next Nostradamus.
One thing Vees fans can take comfort in is that the boys in blue tend to follow a loss with a win. While what happened in the regular season means little in the playoffs, I will point out the Vees only had three losing streaks the entire year. Against the Centennials in the second round, the Vees bounced back in a big way after watching their 3-1 lead slip away.
After being shutout (the first time since Oct. 15 against Nanaimo) 3-0 at Kal Tire Centre in Vernon Tuesday, Vees captain Nicholas Jones told the Vernon Morning Star that “it’s going to be a war for the next best-of-three here.”
Well, strap on your boots because things are about to get even more exciting, especially once Game Five is decided and one of these teams is facing elimination. Already this series has already seen its fair share of beauty hits.
“It’s been an intense series, but any time you get to games five through seven, it’s obviously going to amp up a little bit,” said Jones. “You are playing for your season. Everybody wants to go to the next round.”
“They come out really hard. We just got to match that each and every game,” said Leahy, adding they are only focused on winning Game Five. “It’s pretty intense. There’s obviously not too much love between the two teams. Stepping in as a new guy to the B.C. rivalry is pretty fun to play in.”
The team that has scored first in every game this series has gone on to win, but Leahy said they are not thinking about that too much.
“Just coming out with an energetic start, a focused start,” said Leahy, committed to Cornell University for 2018-19. “We’re most just focused on having a good start. It doesn’t always mean the first goal, but a lot of times it does.”
The Vees can get off to a quick start by using their speed and physicality to their advantage. Sure the Vipers like to play a physical game, and have talked about wearing down the Vees. It’s not like the Vees can’t do the same. They have the players who bring that.
If that sign outside the Vees dressing room is going to carry the weight intended, the Vees will have to take the initiative to make it happen with their fans behind them. Maybe starting that Go Vees Go chant from the start will help. Don’t wait for your beloved Vees to do something great to encourage you to spit that out.