Sixty-three goals in 106 BCHL games is a good indicator that Sam Mellor knows how to score.
The Cranbrook minor hockey product got his first goal with the Penticton Vees against the Vernon Vipers late in the second period then his second of the game early in the third. His tally was just 1:03 from being a game winner until Vipers forward Adam Tambellini decided to force overtime.
A two-time 60-point scorer (63 and 67 to be exact) and returning from a season with the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, it’s fair to expect a lot from the former Trail Smoke Eater.
Taking advantage of his experience, Mellor should be one of the dominant players in the league.
When asked that question, Mellor said he wasn’t sure if he will dominate, but something else is more important to him.
“I have a chance to be more of a complete player,” said Mellor, who played for the Kootenay Ice in major midget. “Be a defensive guy and not one dimensional. I think it’s a good opportunity for me.”
Having that mentality could lead to Mellor being a force, which will bring plenty of smiles to Fred Harbinson and his coaching staff. The opposite will lead to him getting an earful from Harbinson.
Producing offensively should be helped by the fact Mellor is skating alongside Wade Murphy. The soon-to-be 19-year-old torched goalies 36 times and finished with 91 points last season in 60 contests. The Victoria product looked strong during training camp. Murphy scored the winning goal against the Chilliwack Chiefs in the opening game of the Showcase.
“He’s a really good player. Really skilled and smart,” said Mellor.
He also raved about rookie Ryan Gropp, who turns 16 on Sunday. Mellor said Gropp has the highest skill level on the Vees.
“His hands and stuff are pretty amazing,” said Mellor. “Lots of poise and patience. He will only get better. I thought he looked good for first two games.”
With Mellor being handed a leadership role as an assistant captain, he looks forward to teaching Gropp about the league and becoming a better player. It’s a role he gladly accepts to help everyone. A role he feels he should have.
Heading into the season, Mellor has expectations on himself to produce and help the team win. He also has no problem with fans having high expectations on him.
“Why not. It’s good.”
“I just want to do whatever I can to help the team,” he said.
Mellor likes that the Vees possess speed. During their two wins against the Chiefs, 2-1, and 3-2 double over time win against the Vernon Vipers, was support the players gave each other.
Ice chips: Rookie Brad McClure scored the first Vees goal, while Michael Rebry netted the double overtime winner. The two Ontario products felt pretty good in helping their team win. Rebry’s early impressions of the BCHL is that players are quick, work hard and make smart plays. On the Vipers: Both players noticed the rivalry with the Vees.
“A little war there,” said McClure. “They are a solid team, they are big.”
Harbinson liked what he saw from his team during the weekend. He felt they played with pace. One other thing impressed him.
“I thought we saw a lot of good little details out of our team this early in the year,” he said.
After allowing the Vipers to score first, the Vees showed they are capable of coming back.
“There was no panic on our team,” said Harbinson. “We’re talking about an inexperienced group that we have. They seem to be really calm and reserved.”
Emanuel Sequeira is the sports editor of the Penticton Western News.