The Riley Alferd-Matt Serratore-Jack Ramsey line pulled out all the stops to lead the Penticton Vees past the Langley Rivermen 4-1.
The trio combined for three goals and four assists on Wicked Wednesday at the South Okanagan Events Centre to improve their record against Mainland Division teams to 5-0-0 and 20-3-0-1 overall in the BCHL, and third in Canada.
It started with the Vees trailing 1-0 and Alferd pulled an inside out move on the Rivermen defender to setup the first of Serratore’s two-goals.
“It was a great play by Alfie. He came in and kind of went under the stick of the defenceman, brought him in and he kind of just left it for me,” recalled Serratore, who has lit the red lamp 13 times in 24 games. “I was able to have a pretty good shot there and luckily it went in (low blocker). I think the goalie started leaning when he saw Alfie still had the puck.”
Alferd, the game’s first star, was at it again as he potted the winner that gave the Vees a 2-1 lead. However, it didn’t come until the line of Demico Hannoun, Tyson Jost and Patrick Newell buzzed in the offensive zone. Their work on the shift led to Hannoun hitting a cross bar and post.
“That sequence there created a lot of momentum for us,” said Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson. “Next shift, Alferd goes and scores. We kind of came at them in waves with utilizing our whole bench.”
Alferd’s goal was a thing of beauty as he raced down the left side and snapped a shot past Bo Didur’s glove side.
“We’ve been playing pretty well. Things have just been going right for us,” said Serratore, who hammered home the Vees’ fourth goal and 100th of the season on a setup by Ramsey.
Leading 2-1, Jost, gave the Vees a two-goal cushion as he weaved into the Rivermen’s zone avoiding the stick of the defender who had dropped to the ice. Once Jost got past him, he snapped a wrist shot top corner. The Vees’ only blemish came on the Rivermen’s goal by Dante Hahn. He was able to beat Hunter Miska, who finished with 20 saves, stick side off the post on a three-on-one play. Harbinson felt his team didn’t make many mistakes in their zone after that.
“We were pretty efficient getting out of our end,” said Harbinson. “Just not a lot of turnovers.”
Known for their physical play, the Rivermen didn’t disappoint as they knocked some Vees around. However, the Vees bounced back and responded giving the game a playoff-style look.
“It was a good challenge for us,” said Serratore.
“They came in and played really hard, really physical in our building and we rose to the challenge.”
He agreed about the playoff feel and added there was not a lot of time and space. Harbinson added that the Rivermen came at them hard and finish their checks more than most teams. That style suited new Vee Connor Chartier just fine.
“Coming from a team like Spokane (in the WHL), they are coached to be physical and always playing the body,” he said. “I guess that’s been kind of drilled in my head the past few years.”
Harbinson was impressed by what he saw from Chartier saying he was smart on the ice and was calm.
With the Vees hosting the Merritt Centennials Friday in the first of a home-and-home battle, Serratore said their match against the Rivermen prepares them well. The Centennials enter the weekend having won four straight, including a 6-4 victory against the Cowichan Valley Capitals at home. The Centennials are third in the Interior Division at 14-9-0.
Vees notes: Newell extended his point streak to 11 games with his second period assist … Alferd took over the Vees goal-scoring lead with 16 and leads the team with 27 points, besting his point totals from last season by three … with their 100th goal, they’re the second highest scoring team in the BCHL … NHL Central Scouting released its November players to watch list and Miska is part of the original list.