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Vees counting on experience, skill
Skill and experience are what the Penticton Vees are counting on to hlep them make a successful playoff run.
Cody DePourcq, the lone remaining member of the Vees’ 2012 RBC Cup championship team, said experience is huge, especially with the additions of Erik Benoit and Shane McColgan having competed in two Memorial Cups each, while Nic Pierog competed for the RBC Cup last year with the Surrey Eagles, only to lose to the Brooks Bandits.
“That’s all huge, we can teach the younger guys,” said DePourcq, with 42 playoff games under his belt in the BCHL, Doyle Cup and RBC Cup. “Teach the inexperienced what it’s like. You show the confidence and calm them down when the going gets tough.”
But DePourcq believes it will be the Vees skill that pushes them past the Merritt Centennials, whose roster combines for 80 junior playoff games of experience.
“They work very hard. That is something that we have to match and outcompete them,” said DePourcq.
Pierog is excited for another shot at a championship.
“It’s always a great time of year,” said Pierog. “Everyone brings a high level.”
Vees coach Fred Harbinson said he feels his team has depth. They will be sitting out forwards Max Coatta and Josh Blanchard for Games 1 and 2, which are Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
“Great depth up front. All our D are playing well right now,” said Harbinson. “Have both goalies that are ready and available to go.”
Harbinson added that he’s happy with how his team is playing and finishing on a high by winning the Interior Division.
“I think the last couple of weeks we’ve played really well,” said Harbinson, as his team went 7-3-0 in its final 10, including a 3-2 overtime win against Salmon Arm on Saturday. “We knew what was at stake and we came through in some big games in the last little bit here. I think we’re playoff ready.”
Harbinson expects it to be a hard-fought series, especially since the division was tight from the start of the season.
“There is not much room between one through four,” said Harbinson, whose team finished with a record of 36-16-2-4. “It’s going to make for some great battles.”
McClure, who scored the overtime winner against Salmon Arm in front of 3,002 fans in the SOEC 1:23 into the period, said they need to use their speed and outwork the Centennials, who clinched a playoff spot in their second-to-last regular season game.
“It’s just a matter of executing,” said McClure.
The Vees won the season series 4-1-1, outscoring the Centennials 29-16. McClure led the Vees with four goals and 10 points against the Cents, while Brett Beauvais had three goals and eight points. McClure said their success in the season does give them a mental edge on the Centennials, who finished the season with a record of 31-22-4-1.
“We had a good season series against them,” said McClure. “They are well coached and they compete really hard. They are going to come out flying.”
Check www.pentictonwesternnews.com throughout the playoffs for Vees coverage.
Vees 2013-14 award winners:
Robert Skinner Courage Award: Cam Amantea (Cantex Okanagan)
Most Improved Player: Jarod Hilderman (Sherwood Sports)
Best Conditioned Athlete: Chris Rygus (Kirk Chamberlain & Associates)
Academic Achievement Award: Jarod Hilderman (Skaha Ford)
Humanitarian Award: Cody DePourcq (Structurlam Products)
Unsung Hero: Chris Rygus (Sherwood Signs & Graphics)
Most Inspirational Player: Patrick Sexton (Penticton Towing)
Fan Favourite Award: Cody DePourcq (Elliot Row Men’s & Women’s Wear)
Most Sportsmanlike: Ben Dalpe (Burnco Rock Products)
Leading Scorer: Brad McClure (Game Time Sports)
Vees Most Popular Player: Cody DePourcq (James Palanio / Remax)
Best Defenseman Award: Brett Beauvais (Penticton Alumni Hockey Club)
Rookie of the Year: Jack Ramsey (BC Hockey Hall of Fame)
Playoff MVP: TBA
MVP: Brad McClure (Making Cents Bookkeeping)
The BCHL announced it's award winners. The winners were chosen after a poll of the league’s head coaches and play-by-play broadcasters.
Vern Dye Memorial Trophy – Most Valuable Player:
Landon Smith, forward, Salmon Arm SilverBacks
Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy – Rookie of the Year:
Danton Heinen, forward, Surrey Eagles
Defensive Award – Top Defenceman:
Brett Beauvais, Penticton Vees
Bob Fenton Trophy – Most Sportsmanlike Player
Danton Heinen, forward, Surrey Eagles
Joe Tennant Memorial Trophy – Coach of the Year
Bobby Henderson, Langley Rivermen
Brett Hull Trophy – Top Scorer (tie):
Landon Smith, Salmon Arm SilverBacks (43 G, 40 A, 83 points)
Myles Fitzgerald, Victoria Grizzlies (27 G, 56 A, 83 points)
Goaltending Award (Lowest GAA of all goalies with 1,000 minutes played):
Jeff Smith, Powell River Kings – 2.25 GAA
Wally Forslund Trophy (Goalie duo with lowest-combined GAA)
Olivier Mantha and Hunter Miska, Penticton Vees – 2.27 GAA combined