Penticton midget Vees place fourth at home tournament

Coach pleased with club's progress in early stage of the season

PENTICTON MIDGET TIER 2 VEES netminder Brandon Locket prepares to drop on the loose puck as Kelowna Rockets Murray Gaffney (left) and Vees Aiden Hutcheson watch for a rebound during semifinal action in the Penticton Fall Classic tournament at Memorial Arena. Kelowna advanced to the finals with 4-0 win  but lost the championship game to Coquitlam. Below

PENTICTON MIDGET TIER 2 VEES netminder Brandon Locket prepares to drop on the loose puck as Kelowna Rockets Murray Gaffney (left) and Vees Aiden Hutcheson watch for a rebound during semifinal action in the Penticton Fall Classic tournament at Memorial Arena. Kelowna advanced to the finals with 4-0 win but lost the championship game to Coquitlam. Below

Effort and focus were the theme for the Penticton Tier 2 midget Vees last weekend during their Fall Classic tournament.

Coach Lance Vaillancourt said he wanted players coming to the rink with the right mental preparation and bringing work ethic to execute.

“For the most part I really believe they embodied those themes,” said Vaillancourt.

The Vees reached the semifinal and lost to Kelowna 4-0. Kelowna then lost to Coquitlam in the final.

“Kelowna’s roster is deep because of the sheer size of their association, so by comparison this early in the season, our team played well,” said Vaillancourt.

The Vees opened the tournament against the Vancouver Thunderbirds with a 3-2 loss, despite outshooting them by a three to one margin. The Vees then started Saturday with a 5-2 win against Williams Lake and ended it pushing aside the Burnaby Bulldogs 8-4. Vaillancourt said his players competed with high intensity, which was what he wanted to see. The players also used the weekend to build chemistry.

“A couple of our veteran players led by example this weekend and some of our first year players adjusted quicker than I expected,” said Vaillancourt.

To the Vees’ coach, parity in the tournament was OK. Kelowna and Coquitlam were the top teams, both were 3-0 in the round robin.

“Coquitlam is a Tier 1 team so that is to be expected, but Kelowna is Tier 2 so that speaks to their depth,” he said. “This early in the season you never know what it is going to be.”

The Vees were led offensively by Liam Hutcheson with five goals and one assist. Dennis Zoeller finished with four goals and six points with other multiple point efforts by Reid Newson, Sammy Gabriel, Daylan Devlin and Rylan Douglas. Brandon Locket won his first games of the season in goal.  Other members of the team are Nick Graham, Aiden Hutcheson, Owen Haggerty, Justin Thornton, Jesse Keylock, Spencer Hook, Michael MacLean, Myles Thibodeau, Franky Anderson and Graham Smith-Boyle.

With the Vees hosting provincials and being the defending champs,Vaillancourt said the  goal this  season is repeating the feat.

Midget notes: The midget team’s annual pie-making day is Nov. 2 in which they will sell four for $25 or $8 each. Anyone interested in supporting the fundraiser should send orders to administrator@pentictonminorhockey.com. Send cheques payable to Midget Tier 2 Jr Vees and drop them off at the Penticton Minor Hockey Association office in Memorial Arena at the top of the stairs. Place cheque and order in an envelope addressed to the team. Pies may be picked up at Pen High between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Please use main entrance 158 Eckhardt Ave and bring boxes for your pies. Penticton Minor Hockey Association’s next tournament will be bantam Tier 3, Oct. 18 to 22, featuring 12 teams.