Being on the losing side of the Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects game Jan. 26 didn’t diminish the experience for Tyson Jost and Dante Fabbro.
Jost, the Penticton Vees captain, said it was a fun game and Surrey did a great job hosting.
“It’s too bad that we lost 3-1,” said Jost, days before the team headed to Vancouver Island. “It seemed like we had all the chances in the world, but we just couldn’t put one in the net. It was definitely a cool experience. It’s a fun thing to be a part of.”
While Jost and Fabbro had some familiar faces to play with from their Canada West experience, there were new guys to get used to. That made it a bit tough, especially when they are trying to build quick chemistry without a real practice. Play was a bit choppy according to Fabbro, but it was an easy adjustment period to get along with the players.
“I thought Dante and I had really strong games,” said Jost, ranked 15th among North American skaters in the NHL Draft midterm rankings. “We just couldn’t find the back of the net. I thought we proved that we can play at that level.”
“It was definitely pretty cool,” said Fabbro, who is 18th in those same rankings. “To play against other kids from across the country, representing the Vees was something special.”
Fabbro, who is second among BCHL blue liners in scoring with 11 goals and 51 points in 35 games, was on the fence of whether it was a reward for the season he has had.
“There is a lot of kids that deserve to be there too,” he said. “We’re not taking it lightly. We wanted to go out there, obviously showcase what we have. I think we’re proud with what we did and how we went about things down there.”
Fabbro was impressed with the capacity crowd of 1,500 and the 150 scouts from all 30 NHL teams. It became an experience and the Coquitlam product couldn’t ask for anything else.
Leading up to Christmas, Fabbro had another great experience when he and Jost helped Canada West win gold at the World Junior A Challenge. It’s his second gold medal after helping Canada win the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament last summer. Fabbro said the key to winning the WJAC was the group coming together quickly. Fabbro assisted on the winning tally in which Jost and Liam Finlay took a swat at the puck against the Russians in a 2-1 final.
“It was really kind of a nothing shot. I threw it in there and luckily Finlay and Jost got a stick on it,” recalled Fabbro. “It was definitely something I will remember.”
Fabbro had some hesitant moments in that championship game. Then Jost, captain of Canada West, and his best friend, came up to him and told him to do his thing. That was all Fabbro needed to start playing better.
“I thought I had a pretty strong tournament. I wasn’t too offensive,” said Fabbro, who collected five assists in four games. “I really focused on my defence. I think that’s what you got to do sometimes. When one isn’t working for you, kind of divert to the other one. My defence was kind of going for me there.”
Vees notes: Rookie forward Desi Burgart is about a week away from recovering from an upper body injury, while defenceman David Eccles was injured in the second game against the Trail Smoke Eaters and isn’t expected to return until before the playoffs. St. Cloud State senior forward Joey Benik has been named the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Player of the Month for January. Benik, who helped the Vees win the 2012 RBC Cup, had a monster month racking up 15 points in 10 games while leading the third-ranked Huskies to an 8-1-1 record. His 15 points were tops among all NCHC players and ranked in the top 10 nationally during the month, while his six goals were second in the conference. He also collected nine assists while averaging 1.50 points per game. Benik tallied multiple points in five of his 10 games while recording at least a point in seven of the contests. Benik also earned NCHC Offensive Player of the Week and NCAA First Star of the Week. In 28 games this season, Benik has 17 goals and 33 points. In 124 career games with the Huskies, Benik has 53 goals and 111 points. Troy Stecher, a junior defenceman with the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, received NCHC defenceman of the week honours for the second time this season on Jan. 18. Stecher topped all defencemen in scoring that weekend and anchored a defensive effort against the University of Nebraska-Omaha to 52 shots in the series and killed eight of nine UNO power plays. The Richmond product scored a power-play goal and added a third-period assist in a 5-1 win. In an overtime loss, Stecher had a goal and an assist while adding a team-high five shots on goal and three blocked shots. He also extended his point streak to four games, a new career high. In 28 games this season, Stecher has five goals and 19 points.