As soon as Scott Conway netted his BCHL-leading eighth game-winning goal, teddy bears rained down on the South Okanagan Events Centre.
The Penticton Vees, Canada’s top junior A team, made their fans wait to be able to throw teddy bears as the game was scoreless through regulation time. The winner didn’t come until 16 seconds into double overtime in a 1-0 victory over the Coquitlam Express. Conway busted through the Express zone and snapped a shot at Tyger Howat who couldn’t handle it after it hit him.
“It felt good to get that goal. Just for the teddies … great experience,” said Conway. “I’ve never been part of some thing like that before. I tried to make the celebration a bit worth while.”
When asked what it was like to see the toys fly, Conway said it was an experience.
“I can’t imagine that many teddy bears. I wish they were all on my bed so I could snuggle them,” Conway joked.
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said it was a cool way for the night to finish.
“The last thing you want to do is get shutout at home during Teddy Bear Toss,” joked Harbinson, whose team remains undefeated at the SOEC this season at 12-0-0 and extended their winning streak to 23 games.
The game didn’t start well for the Vees, who were handed two penalties in the first four minutes. Colton Poolman was assessed a delay of game penalty for being late leaving the ice after the warm-up and then Scott Conway was tagged with a high-sticking infraction. The Vees were outshot 11-0, though Demico Hannoun hit the post with a wrist shot while shorthanded. His was among many posts the Vees hit.
“We were struggling moving pucks cleanly but at the same time I think we might have hit the pipe about five or six times,” said Harbinson. “We had an open net at the end of the first period we missed. It almost started feeling like one of those games that could go the wrong way on us.”
In the first and second period, the Express outshot the Vees 27-18. Harbinson said the Express did a good job of congesting the neutral zone, though he added the players created their own problems from not handling the puck as well as usual. Harbinson credited the Express for their play saying they worked hard and won many small battles.
“It wasn’t a pretty game for us. We found a way to get that extra point,” said Harbinson. Keep the winning streak at home alive.”
Conway said they worked hard but got unlucky a few times. One of their missed chances came late in the first period when Tyson Jost put the puck through the crease with an empty net.
“We put pucks to the net. I guess the goalie got lucky with a couple of plays,” said Conway, adding they will be looking for better than a 1-0 win when they play in Coquitlam on Saturday. “We battled through adversity.”
Anthony Brodeur had another stellar performance in goal. He saved the game for his team with a desperation move on a two-on-one as Colton Kerfoot fed Blake Hayward, who created odd-man rush coming out of the penalty box. Starting at an open net, Brodeur used his paddle to keep it out.
“I was kind of stuck and the guy made a really nice pass over our defenceman,” said Brodeur, who finished with 33 saves for his second shutout of the season. “The only thing I could do was poke at his skate. It ended up working out somehow. You have to hope for the best. You just battle as hard as you can and try to keep the puck out.”
With Jost and defenceman Dante Fabbro assisting on the winner, all three extended their point streaks — Conway 21, Fabbro 16 and Jost 12. Jost took over the BCHL scoring lead with his assist Wednesday and is second in Canada with 47 points. Brodeur is still perfect at 14-0 between the pipes. The Vees remain undefeated at home as they improve their record to 10-0 at the SOEC. They are 7-0 against the Mainland Division.
Penticton (23-1-0-0) puts their 23-game win streak on the line Friday as they visit the Langley Rivermen. The Vees beat the Rivermen 4-3 on Oct. 17 at the SOEC. Friday is the start of a two-game Mainland Division road trip for the Vees; they’re in Coquitlam Saturday.
Vees alumni update
St. Cloud State senior Joey Benik (2011-2012) had quite the weekend for the Huskies. Benik scored five goals and finished with six points in a weekend sweep against Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich. Benik was named the NCHC First Star of the Week. Benik’s seven goalls is tied for 14th in the NCAA hockey scoring.
Staying within the NCHC, Troy Stecher (2010-2013) and North Dakota swept Miami-Ohio at home, including a 6-2 win on Friday. Stecher had a pair of assists in the win, and assisted on what many are saying, is the goal of the year in college hockey (watch here).
Seven Vees alumni were featured in a weekend series between Minnesota and Minnesota State Mankato. Brothers, Connor (2012) and Ryan (2012) Reilly and Jack Ramsey (2014-2015) of the Gophers shutout the Mavericks on the road 4-0 Friday in Mankato. The Mavs rebounded the following night, rallying in for a 3-2 overtime win on the road. Bryce Gervais (2012) had a goal and two points in the win for Mankato; Brad McClure (2013-2014) picked up an assist. Mankato’s roster also features Steen Cooper (2014-2015) and Sean Flanagan (2013).
Olivier Mantha (2014) picked up his first shutout of the season on Saturday making 25-saves as Alaska-Anchorage shutout Ferris State 5-0. Mantha sports a 5-3-1 record and owns a .921 save percentage.
Mike Garteig (2012) & Travis St. Denis (2012) helped Quinnipiac to a weekend sweep. St. Denis picked a pair of assists on the weekend, and Garteig backstopped the Bobcats to wins over Dartmouth and Harvard. Garteig leads all goalies in wins (10) and is eighth in save percentage (.929) and tied for second in shutouts (2). St. Denis is tied for 14th in the country in scoring, with seven goals and 12 points.
Air Force freshman Matt Serratore (2014-2015) had a goal in the Falcons’ 5-1 win over Holy Cross on Friday. Serratore is off a solid start with two goals and four points in 10 games.
In the professional ranks, Joel Rumpel (2010-2011), who was signed by the San Jose Sharks last spring, is 9-3 with a .915 save percentage with the Sharks ECHL Affiliate, the Allen Americans. Rumpel joined the Americans last spring, as he was part of their Kelly Cup championship.
Curtis McKenzie (2007-2009) was recently activated from the injured reserve by the Dallas Stars and assigned to their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. McKenzie was on the shelf for nearly a month with hip injury. He has a four assists in two games.