The crease hasn’t always been a safe haven for Penticton Vees goalie Hunter Miska.
In the first round he had run-ins with the West Kelowna Warriors. Same thing in the second round against the Vernon Vipers. Now in the BCHL’s double round-robin series he got knocked around by the Nanaimo Clippers Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre during a 4-1 Vees win.
“Yeah, it was pretty fun,” said Miska, when asked about the company he had.
It didn’t rattle him, though.
“I’m so used to it,” continued Miska, adding that it gives him fuel to win. “I’m not letting anything like that get to me. I know that’s what they are going to try to do to throw me off my game. I’m just fighting through the adversity of them trying to go after me and take me out of my game. I’m just going to keep doing what I do and keep getting wins.”
Every time it happens, the boo birds thunder from the bowels of the SOEC. However this time a price is being paid. In the first period Colin Renwick decided to pay Miska a visit and received a double minor for it, the second being for unsportsmanlike conduct. In the third period, Jacob Jackson, the Clippers top offensive weapon and a San Jose Sharks draft pick, received a game misconduct for crashing on top of Miska. He will miss the Clippers next game Friday in Nanaimo against the Chilliwack Chiefs. Miska said he’s glad the league has taken action. After the first period ended he spoke with the officials.
“He was commenting to me saying don’t do anything like, exaggeration tripping, he said they have been watching the last couple series,” said Miska, now sporting the best save percentage in the playoffs at .937. “They know what’s going on. I don’t need to exaggerate. If you get hit, you get hit. Just get back up and keep doing your thing. We got your back.”
Clippers coach Mike Vandekamp denied they were using it as a tactic and didn’t comment further. Alferd said with the Vees having a goalie like they have, the Clippers have to try everything they can.
“Vernon tried to do it. West Kelowna tried to do it,” he said. “It doesn’t surprise me that they try and do it. We just have to hope that it will be called right. We can’t just stop playing our game and take penalties from that.”
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said his goalie has been run about 10 times during the playoffs. The BCHL doesn’t comment on decisions made by officials. The ruling on Jackson follows the guidelines in the Junior A Supplement followed by the Western Canadian junior A teams.
The Clippers opened the scoring when Cole Maier blasted a shot past Hunter Miska at 8:07 on a set up by Anthony Rinaldi. The visitors capitalized on an opportunity created when Vees defenceman Mike Lee lost his footing in the defensive zone and lost Rinaldi. The Clippers forward made his way behind the net and snuck the puck between Miska and the post and it slowly made its way in the high slot for Maier tee up. The Vees outshot the Clippers 11-7 in the opening period but couldn’t solve goalie Guillaume Decelles, who entered the third round with the best save percentage in the playoffs at .937.
The Vees got back on even terms when Dante Fabbro wired a shot high over Decelles shoulder. That got the crowd of 2,433 out of their seats. After that, Riley Alferd buried the winner, while Patrick Newell and Dakota Conroy pocketed the other goals. Decelles finished with 32 saves, while Miska made 27 saves. After a slow first period, Harbinson said his team was outstanding.
“We moved our feet, we attacked their net,” said Harbinson. “I thought we put pucks where we could get to them first. We didn’t let them play a lot of extended minutes in our own end.”
The two teams with the best records will advance to the Fred Page Cup.