Kyle Mountain put up impressive numbers this season with the Penticton Vees.
They just don’t show up on the stats sheet. Mountain is a faceoff specialist who won over 70 per cent of his battles was successful against the Quesnel Millionaires in round one.
“It’s something I’ve worked hard at,” said Mountain, who tries to play like retired NHLer Rod Brind’amour. “I have been doing it for a while and a lot of guys dismiss it. They view it as not important, but every draw is a chance to get a possession. It’s a chance to have the puck on your stick and obviously you can’t score if you don’t have the puck.”
A prime example was Game 3 in Quesnel with the Vees trailing 3-2 with 11 seconds remaining. The 20-year-old rookie won the faceoff back to defenceman Joey Laleggia, who fired the puck on net with Logan Johnston jumping on the rebound to tie the game. In overtime, the Vees won leading to their sweep. The slender-faced Mountain agrees it was his biggest faceoff win of the year.
“I knew I had to win the draw,” said Mountain, who accepted a scholarship to the University of Vermont Catamounts, which helped produce NHLers such as Martin St. Louis, Tim Thomas and John LeClair. “If I had lost the draw we would lose the game. It felt great to contribute to that goal.”
Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson said winning faceoffs is something the Bryn Mawr, Penn., native has done all season.
“That was probably the biggest one up until now,” said Harbinson. “You lose that game and all of a sudden the pressure is on going into game 4. Nothing really rattles him.”
Mountain, the younger brother of Bryan who played goal for the Vees in 2006 to 08, takes pride in being a faceoff king. He revealed the secret that gives him success.
“I get a lot lower than most guys. I like to use all the power I have in my legs,” said Mountain. “Some guys just rely on hand-eye coordination.”
That’s not the only thing Mountain knows. Teammate Joey Holka said the two-time national champion with the Eastern Junior Hockey League New Hampshire Monarch’s is one of the best shutdown centres in the league.
“He’s the kind of the guy that doesn’t get enough credit,” said Holka. “He does a lot defensively. He is good at hanging onto the puck in the corners. You’re never going to spend too much time in your end.”
Mountain, who grew up 25 minutes northeast of Philadelphia, is a quiet leader that does the heavy lifting.
“A lot of people associate good play with goals and assists and he’s a kid that obviously put up decent numbers ( 13 goals, 27 points in 60 games),” said Harbinson. “His importance to the team is penalty killing, faceoffs, being physical and being hard to play against. He has been one of more consistent players.”
As the Vees and Salmon Arm SilverBacks began their second round battle on Tuesday, the opposition will find out first hand how impressive Mountain can be, even if the score clock doesn’t show it.