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Alferd steps up for Vees in playoffs
Riley Alferd said the playoffs is when everyone brings their best.
That’s what the Penticton Vees forward has been doing following a regular season that didn’t go as he hoped when it comes to offensive output. In 57 BCHL regular season games, Alferd scored seven goals and 24 points. In the 2014 BCHL playoffs, the Vancouver, Wash., product has four goals and seven points in eight games, including two goals and three points against the Vernon Vipers, who they were tied 2-2 with going into Thursday’s Game 5 action at the South Okanagan Events Centre.
Alferd said he hasn’t done anything to improve his play other than playing hard.
“I think communication is a huge thing that has helped us play better,” said Alferd, who lines up with Matthew Serratore and Jack Ramsey. “Talking more on the ice, that’s the huge key to our success.”
Vees coach Fred Harbinson said that Alferd has been outstanding.
“His game really elevated in the last quarter of the season. He’s carried it into the playoffs,” said Harbinson. “He’s stepping up with a little more opportunity. He’s creating some offence along with his strong defensive play. That’s been there all year long.”
Harbinson has never been disappointed in the play of the former Muskegon Lumberjack and added he’s not sure anything has changed in Alferd’s play.
“He’s been a great player for us all year. Just for whatever crazy reason, he didn’t get a lot of points for the first three quarters of the season,” he said. “He’s one of the best skaters in the league. He’s very quick and has great edges. He can come out of corners with the puck. He’s versatile. He can play on the back end too if you need to throw him on defence. He’s done that before. “
Harbinson added Alferd is a perfect example of why people need to be patient at times.
“He’s stuck with the process and he’s reaping the benefits, getting success out of it,” said Harbinson.
Alferd has noticed his improved play and said he loves playing with Serratore and Ramsey. With Serratore possessing speed, he feels they are the same type of player, while Ramsey is a big body (6-2, 185 pounds) that makes room for them and scores. Alferd feels better about his play, especially because he’s producing. He said players have to keep trying and it will eventually go their way. While he is a bit surprised by his offensive totals, he doesn’t want to stop.
“I want that to keep happening,” said Alferd. “It’s not all about scoring. As long as you are playing hard and doing the right things.”
When he’s not scoring, Alferd wants to be tough to play against. Right now, he intends to keep using his speed and creating scoring chances.
“This series is more of a dog fight, in-your-face hockey,” said Alferd of facing the Vipers. “Lots of hits and stuff. I love the playoffs, I think it’s the best time of year to play hockey.”
Following the Vees’ 4-3 loss in Game 4 at Vernon’s Kal Tire Place on March 18, Harbinson said the Vipers came out hard. The Vees were outshot 14-6 in the opening period, then flipped it firing 14 shots at Austin Smith, while Olivier Mantha faced nine. Harbinson said his players responded and things were going in the right direction as they led 2-1 early in the second until they gave up the two late goals.
“That gave them the momentum for the third,” said Harbinson. “They are a good team ... and they are going to make their plays. Unfortunately, they made more than us last night (Tuesday night).
Mantha said that he and Hunter Miska can give more, but added the team can give more defensively, too. Mantha was chased from Game 1, while Miska was yanked in Game 3, a 4-3 win for the Vees in Vernon. Mantha said the team needs to block more shots from the point. The Vees goalie also said he’s a bit surprised by the offence in the series, but said that games have been going back and forth.
Should there be a Game 7, it will return to Penticton Saturday at the South Okanagan Events Centre at 6 p.m. Check www.pentictonwesternnews.com for stories on Games 5 and 6.
Vees notes: The BCHL posted on its website that former goaie Joel Rumpel of University of Wisconsin Badgers has been named as one of 10 finalists for this year's Hobey Baker Award, awarded annually to the top player in the Natinal Collegiate Athletic Association. Rumpel turned the Badgers into Big Ten contenders and finished the regular season ranked sixth in the nation in both goals-against average and save percentage. He was named to the Second All-Conference team in the Big Ten as he was the key to Wisconsin's solid defensive play this season. The Swift Current, Sask., native posted a record of 19-5-1 with two shutouts, a .931 save percentage and a goals-against average of 2.19. Rumpel is also one of five goalies in the running for the inaugural Mike Richter Award as the nation's top NCAA Div. I goalie. FANS CAN VOTE HERE to pick Rumpel, who spent two seasons with the Vees. The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers announced the former Vee Mike Reilly was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Reilly anchored the Big Ten’s top defence this season as the Gophers tied for an NCAA-low 72 goals against in the regular season (Minnesota’s 2.00 goals against per game ranks third nationally, first in the conference). The Chanhassen, Minn., native led all Big Ten defencemen with eight goals and 21 assists and ranked among the top ten defencemen nationally in all three statistics.