Cam Amantea and Dakota Conroy are great examples of how veteran players have stepped up for the Penticton Vees in the playoffs.
Amantea scored second tying goal against the Nanaimo Clippers in the third period of Game 5 of the BCHL Final that injected energy into the Vees leading to Riley Alferd’s 3-2 winner.
“Cammer stepped up huge for us there,” said Vees assistant captain Steen Cooper after that game. “A guy that doesn’t really get recognized for scoring big goals like that. He didn’t have a lot of ice time and he’s always a positive guy and it paid off for him. I think the boys were pretty excited to see him get that one.”
Vees co-captain Patrick Sexton said Amantea has been unbelievable.
“He’s a heart and soul guy. He lays it all on the line every game,” said Sexton, following Monday’s practice.
Sexton said people underestimate Amantea then talked about the power move made when busting into the Clippers’ zone.
“He takes the D-man wide, just forces his way to the net and finds that low glove on (Guillaume) Decelles,” said Sexton. “Gives us a chance to score that goal. “It was just an unbelievable play by a veteran guy. Really important play for our team.”
In 44 games this season, Amantea scored five goals. He matched that output in 17 playoff games.
“I don’t really have a reason for that,” said Amantea. “Just trying to step my game up obviously. My last year of junior, I don’t want to leave with any regrets.”
Amantea has battled through upper body injuries this season, but when he’s been on the ice, he has been effective with Mitch Newsome and co-captain Cody DePourcq before his injury.
“I think I have been playing really well as of late. I’ve been feeling awesome lately,” said the Calgary native. “I think I have been playing really consistent. I think this time of year you need everyone on their A game.”
Sexton said that while the young guys have been unbelievable, in the playoffs veterans are key.
“You need to rely on your veteran guys,” said Sexton. “For Corn (Conroy) to be able to do what he did, he never won a playoff game before, he had been swept every single series … for him to get that series clinching and that championship clinching goal, it was a special moment. Not only for him personally, but for our team. We didn’t care who was going to be the hero. I’m happy it was able to be Corn.”
After scoring the goal, Conroy said he didn’t necessarily have a personal feeling.
“I just wanted to turn and see the rest of the boys coming out towards me,” he said. “Just celebrate as a team together. It was a good time.”
Conroy, who was third in team scoring with six goals and 18 points in 22 playoff games, said his line with Connor Chartier and Steen Cooper/affiliate player Jordy Bellerive has developed a lot of chemistry.
“It’s great. A lot of speed, a lot of plays,” said Conroy, who has been happy with his play. “We’re just trying to make plays right now. Trying to not be in our defensive zone.”
As for the deep playoff run that now has the Vees competing for the Western Canada Cup beginning Saturday, he said it’s always fun.
“Seeing the boys win a couple rounds, and getting to hold up a trophy was pretty crazy,” said Conroy, who scored 14 goals and added as many assists in 33 regular season games.
Conroy was named the BCHL’s player of the week ending April 19 as he tallied a goal and five assists in the Vees four wins over Nanaimo. Earning honourable mentions from the Vees were Cooper with three goals and an assist and named second star, while Tyson Jost had three goals, two game winners including one in overtime. He was also named a first star.