Fans may need to have a little patience when it comes the Penticton Vees power play.
In five games, the Vees power play has executed six times on 31 chances, a rate of 19.35 per cent. That sits them at 11th overall in the league, however, they have also played the least amount of games out of all the teams. The Wenatchee Wild sit atop the heap with 13 goals and a 28.9 per cent success rate in six games.
Penticton Vees assistant captain Chris Klack said the player’s view of what is happening may just be different than the fans, who scream for a shot. Klack said they can hear the fans plea at ice-level. It adds pressure, especially for the young players, but Klack insists they will make the right play when they see it.
During the Vees’ B.C. Hockey League home opener on Friday, a 2-1 win over the West Kelowna Warriors, the Vees didn’t manage a goal on four cracks at the power play, but they had opportunities. The Vees used four forwards and one defenceman, a setup Klack said they used at times last season and works, especially when they have confidence. It’s a setup that some NHL teams use. Having that extra forward can give added pop.
The Vees moved the puck around well, but the Warriors also did a good job of containing a few potential threats. On their first two power plays in the first period, the Vees didn’t get many shots on net. The shot count improved later on. In the second period Jonny Tychonick watched as his shot hit the side of the net. Owen Sillinger also had a chance after Grant Cruikshank passed him the puck.
“I think we were still a little bit shy to take shots. I think over time that is going to change,” said Klack. “I think we have a really good power play here.”
On one unit, the Vees used Klack, Dakota Boutin, Owen Sillinger, Cruikshank and Tychonick. On another unit it was Rizzo, Sandelin, Ben Allen, Cassidy Bowes and Tychonick again. Jackson Keane leads the Vees with two power play assists. Over the course of the season, the player combinations will change.
What they want to accomplish on the power play is making three quick passes then firing a shot on goal. They want someone in front to “take the goalie’s eyes away” as Klack put it.
“When you get pucks to the net, good things happen,” said Klack. “Obviously we have a group here that likes to make nice, silky plays as well. Maybe in the future make it a little more simple on the PP.”
Striking on the power play for the Vees so far has been Massimo Rizzo, Joseph Leahy, Jared Nash, Ryan Sandelin, Sillinger and Tychonick.
“We just didn’t really bury. That could have something to do with a little nerves,” said Klack. “It was a lot of fun, it was exciting, it was electric.”
Attendance for that game was 3,655.
Cruikshank debut highlighted by goal
Vees co-captain Grant Cruikshank helped the team to victory as he broke in along on Nik Amundrud beating him five-hole with less than seven minutes remaining after taking a pass from Nicky Leivermann.
“I’m not really sure, it was kind of a blur,” said Cruikshank on his goal, which Cassidy Bowes also assisted on. “It was a nice play by Nicky giving the puck to me with speed. It was a fun game to be a part of. I’m glad we could get the win.”
Cruikshank said he had no idea where he was shooting, though he said some of his favourite targets are five-hole, low blocker on breakaways, and going high.
Cruikshank missed the first four games of the regular season because of a back injury sustained during the playoffs. The University of Wisconsin Badger commit said he had a lot of fun in his debut.
“I thought I played well. I think there are definitely some things I need to work on, for the long summer my legs were a little toast,” said Cruikshank. “That’s game shape and that will come. We’re on the right track.”