Before Canada began spanking Russia 7-3 in men’s hockey in the Olympics Wednesday afternoon, Penticton Vees goalie Sean Bonar predicted a 4-2 Canada win.
“(Roberto) Luongo is going to hold his end of the deal and (Evgeni) Nabokov is going to crack,” he said.
Bonar wasn’t right about the score, but he was on the mark with Luongo. His thoughts on the Canadian stopper is what he intends to do during this years BCHL playoffs starting with the Merritt Centennials.
After getting a taste of playoff hockey last year and collecting a win against the eventual RBC Cup champion Vernon Vipers, Bonar said “the confidence I gained from that series is priceless coming into this year.”
“Knowing that I can do it and knowing that I can be the guy, I’m very confident going into this years playoffs,” said the red-headed keeper, who sported a 28-9 record with a 2.64 goals against average and collected one assist to trail rookie Beau Bennett by78 for the team lead.
The 19-year-old has excitement burning inside him.
“This is where the fun really begins,” he said. “You can sense the excitement all around the dressing room. Guys are just pumped for the weekend to start.”
With goaltending being a crucial position to count on in the playoffs, Bonar agreed this is the time to elevate his game.
“As an athlete you have to want that pressure,” he said. “You have to want that spotlight to be on you.”
Bonar, who collected four shutouts on the season, is expecting the Centennials to be physical with them and “run us through the boards.”
It’s not a mystery to him that they forecheck hard and he said the Centennials are a hard working team. Bonar also knows they have offensive weapons in Penticton’s Dustin Johnson, who led the Cents with 35 goals and 67 points in 52 games. Bonar noted he also has to keep an eye on Jeff Jones, who scored 27 goals and Colton Sobchak, who
“Definitely not a team to take lightly,” he added.
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson knows his players aren’t taking their opposition for granted.
“Anybody that thinks the series is going to be easy is probably no one that is in our locker room,” said Harbinson.
The Vees coach, nominated for Interior Conference Coach of the Year award, which went to Vernon’s Mark Ferner, said Centennials coach-GM Luke Pierce has done an outstanding job.
“They have a purpose in the way they play,” he said. “I think they are a much more disciplined team than a year ago. He has the guys playing hard.”
The Vees coach isn’t sure what approach the Centennials will take in the series, but said if some think that it will be trying to beat up the Vees, Harbinson hopes for one thing.
“We finished with the top power play percentage (29.8 — 108 goals on 362 chances) in the entire league and so if they want to be overly aggressive with us we’re hoping the game is called the same way it was in the regular season,” he added.
see VEES page 15
Penticton vees goalie Sean Bonar kicks out a toe to stop a scoring attempt by teammate Jake Johnson during Wednesday’s practice at the South Okanagan Events Centre. The Vees open the BCHL playoffs tonight against the Merritt Centennials.