Lewis Zerter-Gossage overthought his defensive responsibilities while playing with for the Penticton Vees.
He felt that way because as a centre, his natural position, there was more defensive responsibilities. He said it’s like being a third defenceman.
“I always had this big responsibility that I thought I had,” said Zerter-Gossage. “Sometimes I would get kind of hard on myself if I felt like I wasn’t doing enough work. Sometimes doing little is more. You don’t want to get out of position because you are skating too much.”
From Nov. 9 to Dec. 3, a stretch of nine games, the Montreal native didn’t score. He also had just one assist.
“I was getting chances, I just wasn’t scoring,” he said.
It all changed against the Vernon Vipers on the road. Zerter-Gossage scored a goal, which proved to be the game winner.
“I think that was kind of the one little spark that I needed to get my play back to where it was,” he said, adding that switching back to centre also helped. “I think on wing I got a little tense.”
Since then, in 12 games he has six goals, seven assists and has been held off the scoresheet five times. The good news for him is that his confidence is back, he likes how he is playing and said everyone is doing well.
“Winning obviously is the priority,” said Zerter-Gossage, adding it was difficult when he wasn’t contributing offensively. “Once points come you feel better that you are helping get the wins.”
Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson said that he has been great and said the players have perseverance.
“If things don’t happen for you right away, then you just sort of hang in there,” he said. “Keep playing the same way.”
This weekend, Zerter-Gossage and the Vees take on the Merritt Centennials at the Nicola Valley Arena Friday, then travel to Trail to face the Smoke Eaters at Cominco Arena. Zerter-Gossage has one assist against the Centennials and is pointless against the Smoke Eaters. The Vees held practices in Memorial Arena to be prepared for the old barns.
“They are both games that we have to kind of change our game plan for,” said Zerter-Gossage. “We have no control over the size of the rink. They both have really sharp corners. They are both really lively boards. Merritt is considerably smaller than most rinks we play on. Lots of different adjustments we have to make. Keeping it simple, not trying to make the fancy plays because you have less room to make it happen.”
The Vees’ first game in Merritt this season resulted in a 5-0 loss. In their second meeting there, the Vees won 5-3, then on Dec. 17 the Vees lost 5-1.
“They are a very physical team. They are also pretty skilled too,” he said. “They have a lot of guys that can create offence and good puck moving defenceman.”
Against Trail, the Vees took the first game in Cominco Arena 3-1. The Vees enter the weekend 32-6-2-1, while Merritt is 22-15-0-2 and Trail is 14-23-0-2. The Centennials defeated Langley 5-2 at home. Trail hosts Nanaimo before Penticton.
Vees notes: Over the weekend of Jan. 10, Ghostrider News, the blog for the Fernie Ghostriders posted that members of the AWHL Borne Cup Championship Junior A were in town. Harbinson who coached that team sent a note saying he was disappointed he couldn’t make it due to his schedule. Harbinson went on to say that 1999-00 team “has always had a special place in his heart for so many different reasons.
“The combination of speed, toughness, depth and togetherness was impressive in any era,” wrote Harbinson, who spent his first two years as a coach with the Ghostriders. “To think we strung together 31 straight wins and lost only one game at home is remarkable and a testament to the relentless dedication the players put into every game.
“For me personally, I owe a great deal to the Ghostrider organization, the town of Fernie and of course the players who I was given the chance to coach,” he continued. “I believe the 98/99 team launched my coaching career and for that I thank all of you.”
Former goalie Joel Rumpel, in his senior season with the Wisconsin Badgers, is four wins away from being tied for fourth all-time in wins with All-American goalie Kirk Daubenspeck, who had 55 wins in 121 games, according to the university. Rumpel also has 10 career shutouts. Rumpel is 2-10-2 on the season.