It was a playoff preview for the Penticton peewee Tier 2 Vees against Kamloops Jan. 29.
The Vees ended their Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association regular season winning 7-2, led by Mark Andrews’ four-goal performance. The Vees ended the season at 8-5-5, while the Blaze dropped to 5-9-4.
“They played really well in the final game,” said Vees coach Ian Fotheringham. “We wanted to get geared up for playoffs. We had a really good effort from all three lines and all the defence. Great goaltending.”
The Vees pressured the Blaze with a strong forecheck and as Fotheringham said, “we capitalized on our opportunities.” The Vees finished third in OMAHA after a slow start.
Against the Blaze the Vees are 3-1-1 and Fotheringham said he hopes the players are a confident group heading into Game 1 of a best-of-three series Friday in Penticton at Memorial Arena at 5 p.m.
“Just minimize our mistakes, get in hard on the forecheck,” said Fotheringham on what the keys to success for his team will be. “They are a pretty even depth team. They all skate well. They move the puck well.”
Bantam Vees win OMAHA title
Aaron Funk’s hattrick led the Penticton bantam Murray GM Vees to a 5-1 win over Central Zone (Kelowna) on Jan. 28. Also scoring for the Vees were Kieran Simpson and Carter White. They finished the season at 13-4-1.
“I think our team played really well,” said Vees captain Kai Espenhain. “Everybody worked hard. I think everybody on the team was happy to get a banner and we are going to try to get two more (win the OMAHA and provincial championship).
Espenhain credited the support of the coaches, parents and sponsors for their success. Assistant coach Chad Deleeuw said the team played very well even after already having first-place locked up. It was a physical game and Deleeuw said that created scoring chances.
“It’s huge,” said Deleeuw of their physical style. “We have a fairly big team. Playing on small sheets of ice, we have to be physical. It creates turnovers. We finish checks and opponents will think twice with the puck. It helps create space.”
Along with playing physical, speed is the teams other strength.
The Vees have a bye the first weekend of playoffs and will not play until the Feb. 10 weekend when they face the winner between of Kelowna and Salmon Arm.