Penticton Vees defenceman Nicky Leivermann is second overall on team scoring and had a hat trick the last time squaring off against the West Kelowna Warriors. Western News file photo

Penticton Vees defensemen offering punch of offence

Penticton Vees Nicky Leivermann leading the charge on point production

Penticton Vees defenceman Nicky Leivermann lists Christmas Day as his favourite on the calendar, however that soon might be trumped by anytime he suits up against the West Kelowna Warriors.

“Yeah, yeah that is nice,” said Leivermann, who had a hat trick the last time the two teams tangled and the Vees came out with a resounding 11-3 victory. “I like playing them obviously, but I think they will be a bit tougher than they were last weekend.”

In the two other contests against the Warriors, Leivermann has also had his way with them, earning four assists. In fact, he leads all the Vees in point production against the Warriors so far this year.

Related: An avalanche of growth for Vees defenceman

“If I am scoring, or someone else is scoring, there is five other guys helping along the way so it is not just about me,” said Leivermann, who was the Colorado Avalanche’s seventh round pick (187th overall) at the NHL Entry Draft. “I may be putting the puck in the back of the net the last time we played them but if you look at all three of the goals its hard work down low on the first, Massimo Rizzo making a really good play on the second one and then the third one was just I tried to make a move and got away with it so it probably won’t work on every single defenceman in the league but that time it did so I will take it.”

Forwards like Rizzo will continue to serve the puck up to their blueliners.

“All our D have great shots. So when I am moving it I know they have a good chance of scoring. Any way we can get it to them, they are able to get it off quick and really accurately,” said Rizzo, who had five assists in the last game against the Warriors. “It’s huge for us. We are having a lot of success from it and the D are definitely putting up big numbers and they are scoring goals for us too which helps.”

Leivermann is second overall in team scoring, followed by defenceman Jonny Tychonick and then Ryan O’Connell sits in ninth on the roster. However, as the saying goes — good defence leads to good offence.

“We struggled for a couple of games. Coach (Jason) Becker really got on us and (coach) Fred (Harbinson) to figure it out and turn it around. I think the last five of our six games most of the goals have come from really good plays in our own zone first then turning it around to the other end and scoring,” said Leivermann, who is in his rookie season with the Vees coming from the USHL.

Related: Getting to know – Nick Leivermann

When the Vees were going through a rough patch last month, Leivermann became more critical of his own play.

“I was struggling for a little bit and it was an adjustment for me to come here … I was too easy in the first 10 games or so and the last five or six I just was a bit more physical. And it’s not just blowing guys up, it is being hard to play against on the walls and having that mentality that I want to be the guy that other teams don’t want to see on the ice. I want to be the guy that gets the puck out and be able to make plays in the other zone.”

The heart to heart with himself seems to have gone over well. In the last 10 games, Leivermann has five goals and six assists. Facing the Warriors for the fourth time this season (Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre), the defenceman said they don’t expect it to be a cakewalk, no matter what the last score was.

“They probably will be a little more physical, I would assume, and playing in our rink we have to use our energy from our fans and our own bench to do exactly what we can do as a team because we have been rolling pretty well here.”

 

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