Work remains as the Smile Enhancement Bantam Tier 2 Vees strive to be a top team.
The Vees won two of four games during their host tournament on the weekend. It’s the two games they didn’t win that bothered coach Doug MacMillan. Facing the Calgary Wranglers, the Vees played well but lost 5-2. Against the North Shore Winter Club Winterhawks they lost 3-2. MacMillan intentionally pitted his team against what he considered as the two top teams in the tournament to see how they would respond.
“We need to get to that level,” said MacMillan. “It’s not where you are today, it’s where you end the season. We need to push our kids to be better.”
Their two wins came against the Ridge Meadows Rustlers, 2-0, and Castlegar Rebels, 5-0. The Rebels finished the game with six skaters due to injury, suspension and one player skate blade breaking during the game. The Vees built up a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. Jayden Doell deflected a point shot by Daylan Devlin to make it 3-0. Josh Maser scored the final two goals. His last one was a beauty as he took advantage of a Rebels turnover in their zone and let go a wrist shot that beat Solomon Burk high glove.
“That’s what happens when you pressure the puck,” said MacMillan on the final goal. “When you pressure the puck, everybody gets a little nervous and the next thing you know you have the puck on your stick.”
That pressure game is what the Vees coaches preach. MacMillan was also impressed at how disciplined his group was the last two games. Their game against the Rebels was physical at times with players dishing out big hits, not all of them clean. MacMillan said that’s what you get in games that “don’t mean much” and some teams can get “undisciplined.”
Devlin said he felt the Vees played well after a tough start. Against the Rebels, he said they communicated well and took the body.
“We were putting the puck on net and getting the goals,” said Devlin, adding that Castlegar played well, but weren’t one of the stronger teams they played. Finishing the tournament with back-to-back shutouts by Shane Farkas and Alyck Coombes, MacMillan said it’s hard to complain with their play.
The Vees, who are 4-2-2 in the Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association standings, now have seven shutouts on the season. Maser led the team in tournament scoring with three goals and singles were scored by Nathan Iannone, Myle Thibodeau, Raphael Bassot, Owen Haggerty, Doell, Greg Brydon, Michael MacLean and Devlin. They received strong defensive play from Brydon, Devlin, Haggerty, Simon Snyman, Nick Graham and Aiden Hutcheson helping the team allow only seven goals.
The Vees’ next opponent are the Trail Smoke Eaters. MacMillan said it will be important t to be disciplined against them.
Campbell River defeated Langley 4-3 to win the tournament.