Laleggia’s streak helping Vees keep pace with Vipers

Joey Laleggia is riding a 14-game point streak but you wouldn’t know it when asking him.

Going...— Sicamous Eagles netminder Tyler Steel deflects this shot by Penticton Lakers Rudi Schiebel wide of the net as Eagles defender Jarryd TenVaanhold watches for a rebound. The Lakes doubled Sicamous 6-3 in the KIJHL game played at the South Okanagan Events Centre community rink. The Lakers have put themselves in a playoff position by going 5-3-0-2 in their last 10 games.

Joey Laleggia is riding a 14-game point streak but you wouldn’t know it when asking him.

“It seems lately a little more luck is coming my way,” said Laleggia, who paused a bit before responding. “Obviously with the team winning it’s huge. When the team has success, everybody has success individually too.”

In that stretch, the Vees are 11-2-0-1. Laleggia has produced three goals and 16 assists during his offensive tear and his performance this season has impressed teammates and coaches.

“He has a high amount of skill. He comes to play every night,” said fellow blueliner Derik Johnson. “He really works hard and takes his responsibility in the offensive zone very seriously and it has really shown for him. He’s leading rookie defenders in points (three goals, 53 points in 47 games).”

When asked if the stats meant anything to him, Laleggia, a Vancouver Northwest Giant grad, answered he cares more about contributing to team success.

“We’re trying to catch Vernon so that’s really what matters,” he said, as the Vees trail their Interior Conference rivals by two points.

Johnson said that most players don’t pay attention to personal streaks.

“It’s more about winning games for us but I mean, I’m sure he’s seen it and to put 14 points in 14 games is impressive for anyone in this league, especially a defenceman who is a 17-year-old rookie,” he added.

Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said that Laleggia has done a great job and spoke glowingly about his abilities, including his ability to run the power-play.

“He’s becoming a more well-rounded player,” said Harbinson. “He’s having a great year. We knew he would be successful playing with the right guys.”

Laleggia credits his success transitioning from midget to junior A to being given the chance to flourish with the Giants in the BC Major Midget League.

“The advantages of playing midget last year was that I got to handle the puck,” said Laleggia, who scored 15 goals and 54 points in 40 midget games. “I played a ton because it was my second year there. It made the transition here a lot easier because I had great coaching last year too.”

Laleggia continued his streak when he assisted on Joey Holka’s goal on the power-play against Salmon Arm Saturday. That goal proved to be the winner in a 4-0 final.

“We had one of our best games of the year,” the defenceman said. “A lot of guys stepped up. Two big shorthanded goals by Ben Sexton.”

Goals by Sexton and the Vees’ ability to shutdown Salmon Arm SilverBacks sniper Mark Zengerle were the two factors Johnson contributes to the win.

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“I thought we played a full 60 minutes of very smart hockey, which we have been trying to do since we lost bodies,” he said. “With less guys in the lineup you have to be real smart with your shift times and decision making.”

Vees notes: Forward Alex Szczechura, who has missed the last three games with a lacerated hand, is probable for Fridays game. Goalie Joel Rumpel is the ninth Vee to commit to a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division 1 scholarship as he will join the University of Wisconcin in 2011/12.