A power play firing at 40 per cent (six-for-15) helped the Penticton Vees sweep through three Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island opponents last weekend.
The Vees defeated the Chilliwack Chiefs 6-3, the Cowichan Valley Capitals 5-1 and the Victoria Grizzlies 3-2.
The Vees were two-for-seven on the man advantage against the Grizzlies, the second goal by Brett Beauvais, helping them win Sunday afternoon and extending their win streak to eight games.
When mentioning to Vees coach Fred Harbinson how effective his special-teams unit was, he said, “Yeah, that doesn’t hurt does it?”
Harbinson watched as Beauvais ripped a slapshot past former Vee Nic Renyard at 9:23 of the third period.
“We have a few set plays we do,” said Beauvais. “Our guys were moving really well. I got it back and tried to get a shot off as quick as I could and it went high glove. All the guys were jumping up and down. It was a great feeling.”
“The power play was clicking really well this week. Right now we’re being pretty creative on it,” said Harbinson. “It’s coming from different directions. Teams will have to be careful with taking penalties on us if we keep playing at the clip right now with the power play.”
When asked why it has been so effective, Harbinson credited the players used on both units.
“Right now they just feel that they are in a groove,” he said. “We’re not being predictable. When one area of the ice gets shut down, we find a way to attack from a different direction and I think that is causing a lot of problems for teams.”
With the BCHL’s No.1 power play at 26 per cent (36-for-138), the Vees also scored two goals on three man advantages against the Capitals on Dec.14. Former Capital Steen Cooper set up captain Brad McClure on the second one. Harbinson said that Cooper’s addition has boosted the Vees offence.
“He’s a creative player and there’s no question that teams have to be aware of when he’s on the ice,” said Harbinson. “He opens up ice for other players on our team.”
In the three games, Cooper scored two goals and added two assists on the power play. Cooper had an assist on the power play setting up McClure during their 6-3 win over Chilliwack.
Beauvais said the biggest thing with their power play that he has learned over the years is to do less.
“People try to make complicated plays on the power play,” he said. “If you stick to the basics and keep it simple, getting pucks on net, have guys crash the net, that’s where teams struggle to pick up the late guy.”
The Vees’ meeting against the Capitals was the first time Cooper returned to the Island Savings Centre since being traded to Penticton on Dec. 1. Cooper said it was strange returning.
“It was a little weird. Going in the opposite doors. Warming up on the other side of the rink was a little bit different. Once I got the warmup over with, I think it just turned into a regular game. Everything leading up to it was a little weird.”
Cooper had his family in the stands watching as he finished with a goal and two points that night. He said it felt good to help the Vees collect two points, especially coming from a 5-1 decision. Cooper said his goal felt like a “pretty surreal moment.”
“It’s one thing to get the win, it’s another thing to be lucky enough to pop one in there in your old barn,” he said. “That was a special goal for me.”
Cooper finished off a three-on-two rush as he buried a McClure feed through the legs of Robin Gusse.
In sweeping their road trip, not only was Harbinson impressed with their special teams, but he also liked their play in the third periods. They gave up just one goal in those three games.
“Our third periods were really strong,” he said. “We gave up one goal in the four combined third periods (including on Dec.11). That was a good sign that as games went on, we got stronger and stronger.”
Harbinson said facing the Grizzlies was their toughest test. He said the Grizzlies are one of the best teams in the league.
“It was a playoff-style game,” he said. “It was a high-paced game. I knew when we got up that morning, we could just see our guys were really fresh. It was an exciting game to be involved in for sure.”
Beauvais said the sweep was huge for the Vees and it accomplished the goal they set out heading into the trip.
“I think it was a huge statement,” he said. “Show the league that the Vees, (are) a strong team this year and we want to make a big run.”
Vees notes: Winter Wonderland Skate offers the public a chance to skate with the Vees. The Penticton Community Centre hosts the event from 6:45 to 8 p.m. at McLaren Arena. Fans can have their photos taken with their favourite Vee on the ice for $5. Enjoy free snacks and on-ice games. All ages are welcome. Skate rentals are available first come first serve and regular admission applies. For more info, call