A rematch of last year’s Fred Page Cup championship hits the ice at the South Okanagan Events Centre at 6 p.m. with the Nanaimo Clippers.
“We’re excited about that. Playing at home on Saturday, it should be a good week to get ready for the one game,” said Penticton Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson.
It’s a matchup that also features the top four scorers (Tyson Jost, Scott Conway, Sheldon Rempal (18-16-20-36) and Matthew Hoover (18-15-11-26) in the league.
The Clippers, 11-7-0, last played on Halloween and lost 4-2 to the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. The Clippers will be in Trail Friday taking on the Smoke Eaters before facing the Vees, ranked No.1 in the Canadian Junior Hockey League.
After playing three games in under three days, the Vees, who are 18-1-0, got back to work on Wednesday. The Vees coaching staff gave the players an extra day off to recuperate from injuries. The Vees received another blow to its blue line as Seamus Donohue was placed on long-term injury reserve after getting hurt in Trail on Nov. 1. Gabe Bast is out indefinitely and Dante Fabbro has missed six games with a lower body injury. To help the blue line, Harbinson traded future considerations to the Langley Rivermen for 18-year-old Domenic Masellis. The Burnaby product is six-foot-three and listed at 225 pounds. In 118 career regular season games with the Rivermen and Surrey Eagles, Masellis has two goals and 12 points to go with 165 penalty minutes.
When asked what fans can expect from him, Masellis said “a big presence out there.”
“I like to hit. I like to get shots on net, make a good first pass,” he said. “I get a little chippy. I guess that gets the fans excited a little bit.”
He also won’t be afraid to drop his mitts if required.
“I can stand my own. I can throw them,” he said.
Masellis, who also has 12 playoff games under his belt with the Eagles and Rivermen, is excited to join the Vees. He was getting ready to step on the ice at Langley Events Centre for practice when coach and general manager Bobby Henderson called Masellis into his office.
“When I asked him to who, he told me Penticton,” said Masellis. “I hate to say it, but a big smile came on my face when I heard Penticton.”
Masellis looks forward to making his debut in such a big game.
“Considering the Vees and the Clippers went toe-to-toe last year for the Fred Page Cup, I think it’s going to be pretty intense,” he said.
Masellis said they have a strong front line and “their team is pretty good as a whole.”
“They got Rempal up there and a couple of pretty exceptional forwards,” he said. “I think if we shut them down we should be able to win.”
Vees alumni are performing well in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The Quinnipiac Bobcats have had a terrific start with the help of Travis St. Denis (2012) and Mike Garteig (2012), both seniors, were given monthly awards by the ECAC Wednesday. St. Denis was named the Player of the Month as he led the ECAC in goals with six per game and two multi-goal games. Garteig was named the goalie of the month after starting 6-0 with a .947 save percentage and a 1.33 goals-against average. Garteig leads all ECAC goaltenders in wins and is ranked fourth in goals-against average and fifth in save percentage.
Former captain Cody DePourcq (2012-2015) scored his first NCAA goal. DePourcq scored in Bentley’s 6-2 win over Arm on Nov.1 in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center.
Penn State’s Curtis Loik( 2011-2012) is still inside the top 10 in NCAA scoring, with 10 points, which good enough for eight. The Onward State website, www.onwardstate.com wrote a story on Loik’s success with the Littany Lions. Coach Guy Gadowsky saw his potential when Loik was with the Vees.
“He’s having a great start, his impact on the team is when he’s shooting the puck and when he’s a power forward,” Gadowsky told Onward State. “When he plays the power forward game he’s really really effective, when he plays a perimeter game he’s not. His effect on the team right now is he is leading the team in shots. He has a very positive effect on the team. His challenge is going to be consistency in that way. We’ve seen years in the past where he’s also started out extremely focused in that sense and he’s let it slide a little bit, and I think his challenge is to be consistent in doing what makes him really good. This is no offense to his stick-handling, he is a good stick-handler, but he’s a power forward. He is a very powerful guy — a very, very powerful guy — and he’s got a great shot, and when he does that, he’s really really good. When he starts to get perimeter…sometimes the more success he gets, the more apt he is to make fancy plays, and his challenge is to never forget what makes him really successful.”