Travis Blanleil was happy to tweet that the Penticton Vees defeated Parkway Elementary School students 6-4 on Monday.
The victory comes fresh off the heels of a 3-2 double-overtime loss to the Victoria Grizzlies on Saturday.
Oh, wait. That doesn’t count towards the BCHL standings. That game was part of the Vees visit with Grade 4s for their morning reading program.
The Vees did collect three points at the South Okanagan Events Centre during the weekend that count in the standings. One against the Grizzlies and two against the West Kelowna Warriors during a 4-1 win.
The Vees faced the Grizzlies with 11 forwards dressed as Cam Amantea and Louie Nanne recovered from injuries. Nanne did play against the Warriors and contributed two assists, but admitted his eagerness had him return a little premature. He suffered a minor tweak in his upper body region but should be back in the lineup when the Vees host the Chilliwack Chiefs on Saturday.
Early in the third period the Grizzlies tied the game at two thanks to a funny bounce off the boards. Brad McClure crashed hard into the boards after that when Chris Albertini slashed him as he broke in on goalie Michael Stiliadis. McClure needed help getting off the ice and didn’t return. Down to 10 forwards and using seven defenceman, the Grizzlies were able to apply pressure on the home team.
Vees assistant coach Steve Cawley said by that point they were only rolling with three lines. He added that how the game is played now, the physicality, “maybe we were getting worn down a wee bit.”
“Credit to them they really pressed hard,” said Cawley. “Katunar made some real big stops.”
Never mind the key saves Katman, cough, cough, Katunar made against the Warriors, the former Creston Valley Thunder Cat made big stops in the first period and again in the third.
A play in that game that stood out was created by Jordan McCallum. The former Summerland Steam forward intercepted a clearing attempt. Using his six-foot-four, 190-pound frame, the Grizzlies player couldn’t stop McCallum who skated to the net and forced the puck past Stiliadis with his momentum.
The Vees opened the overtime with Wade Murphy, who extended his point streak to 15 games with his 10th goal, 21 seconds into the game. He was joined by Michael Rebry and Troy Stecher. Their best chance came when Rebry fired one off the iron.
Leo Fitzgerald potted the winner after his brother Myles started the play by going behind the net and trying for a wrap around. Katunar made the initial save. Leo was able to get a couple whacks at the puck, the second one going in, while the three Vees players were not able to clear it.
The Three Vees blog wrote that the coaching staff felt the effort was better than Friday’s.
“Victoria is a tough team,” said Cawley. “Hopefully we will meet them in the (BCHL) final.”
Speaking with Grizzlies captain Zach Urban, he said it was important for them to put pressure on the Vees defence.
“Get chances to score. That’s the way we play,” said Urban, who along with D.J. Jones helped the Vees win a national championship last year.
As for the overtime winner, he said it looked similar to the one in Victoria.
“I kind of celebrated first and then they popped it in,” he said of the scramble play.
Urban said the Vees came out strong against them. On Murphy’s early tally, Urban said it was important that they didn’t get down and just put that behind them. Jones said it felt good to beat his old team and said both teams played great.
“They’re going to be a good team come playoffs,” said Jones. “We always seem to play the best against the Vees.”
The test begins now for the Vees who had six players attending the Team Canada West selection camp. Vees coach-GM Fred Harbinson is in Calgary watching the camp. Depending on how many players from the team are chosen, it provides the opportunity for others to step into greater roles.
The Vees have a few players taking part in practice including affiliate player Evan Last, who leads the Osoyoos Coyotes in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey in scoring (26 points in 18 games). As well as his teammate Braden Park, who has 10 assists in 13 games. Kootenay Alder is a goalie with the Richmond Sockeyes.
Vees forward Sam Mellor, who played for Team Canada West, said their next three games will be a good character test for sure.
“You can’t replace any of those guys,” he said of Katunar, Stecher, James De Haas, Wade Murphy, Rebry and Dexter Dancs.
Vees notes: Goalie Joel Rumpel, who plays for the Wisconsin Badgers was mentioned in Buckeys5thquarter.com, a blog on the Badgers. Andy Johnson commented on Oct. 29 how a radio announcer recently mentioned that Rumpel’s performance, turning aside 64 of 66 shots on the weekend, was the best he’s seen since St. Louis Blue netminder Brian Elliott was a Badger. Rumpel might be the best goaltender in the WCHA wrote Johnston, and his backup Landon Peterson is more than serviceable when he’s in the cage. Wisconsin really relied on Rumpel at certain times this weekend, especially early on Saturday when the Badgers didn’t have much jump in their step.
“He gave us a chance to get our feet underneath us,” UW head coach Mike Eaves said to Buckey’s 5th Quarter. “That’s what you need your goaltender to do in some games, and he did that for us tonight.”