Vees rookie goalie finding groove

Hunter Miska’s playing style might cause some Penticton Vees fans to think of a couple NHL goalies.

PENTICTON VEES GOALIE Hunter Miska grabs the puck in the crease as Trail Smoke Eaters forward  Bryce Knapp braces for the collision during exhibition B.C. Hockey League action at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton Wednesday. The Vees scored three unanswered goals to edge the visitors 3-1. The team will play in Salmon Arm tonight and return to Penticton Saturday for a final exhibition game against Salmon Arm.

PENTICTON VEES GOALIE Hunter Miska grabs the puck in the crease as Trail Smoke Eaters forward Bryce Knapp braces for the collision during exhibition B.C. Hockey League action at the South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton Wednesday. The Vees scored three unanswered goals to edge the visitors 3-1. The team will play in Salmon Arm tonight and return to Penticton Saturday for a final exhibition game against Salmon Arm.

Hunter Miska’s playing style might cause some Penticton Vees fans to think of a couple NHL goalies.

Miska, a Stacy, Minn., native said he plays similar to Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and Minnesota Wild net minder Niklas Bäckstrӧm. After a good training camp, Miska has been solid in exhibition play, turning aside 37 of 38 shots. He stopped 22 in a 3-1 win against the Trail Smoke Eaters Wednesday night in the South Okanagan Events Centre.

“I feel like I’ve been on my game. Really focused,” said Miska. “Just trying to compete best I can.”

During exhibition, Miska’s intention is to show the coaching staff he’s competitive and determined to win every time. The 18-year-old is competing for ice time with Olivier Mantha, who he has already built a strong friendship with.

“I like him. He’s an awesome kid. We’re living together now,” said Miska. “When we get on the ice, we’re different guys. Working against each other. Trying to fight for the position.”

While Miska compares his style to Quick and Bäckstrӧm, Josh Harding, the other Wild goalie, is his favourite.

“He is one of my inspirational guys,” said Miska. “He started playing goal at 14, same as me. I kind of just try to follow his footsteps. I play like him a little bit too.”

Miska began playing hockey at age four and mostly played forward until four years ago.

“Freshman year of high school I decided to play goal. I just got sick of forward,” said Miska.

Vees notes: The Canadian Junior Hockey League, in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting, released its pre-season top 20 rankings. The Brooks Bandits are No.1, while the Vees are second. The Vernon Vipers are No.5, while the Langley Rivermen are No. 15.