The Penticton Vees addressed their compete level issues from a loss against the Vernon Vipers with weekend wins against the Nanaimo Clippers and Trail Smoke Eaters.
“I think guys did an outstanding job of coming through on Friday and then Saturday night,” said Vees coach-general manager Fred Harbinson. “We found a way to put another solid performance in. Our third period was probably our best period on Saturday.”
Steen Cooper scored twice, including the winner, while Gabe Bast and Jack Ramsey hit the scoresheet as the Vees (40-9-3-2) scored four times in the third period to bounce the Smoke Eaters 5-2 and clinch the Ron Boileau Trophy as the BCHL’s top team for the second time in four years.
“I was on a bit of a funk there,” said Cooper, who snapped a nine-game goal scoring drought. “I was on a roll there for a while and things have been going well. I’m happy with the way I’ve been playing.”
Because of the fire power the Smoke Eaters possess, Cooper said they were lucky to shut the Smoke Eaters out in the third period. What led to them taking the two points was using their speed and they outshot Trail 19-9 in the final frame.
A series of penalties in the second period slowed the Vees from gaining momentum, but after killing off a Cody DePourcq penalty, which was followed by a Smoke Eaters goal, the Vees scored four unanswered goals in the final frame. Harbinson said the Smoke Eaters are an enigma.
“I think they have more skill, especially up front than a handful of teams we have played that are in playoff position,” he said. “Maybe there is other parts of their game that are lacking. Their playmaking ability by their forwards is pretty high and they are dangerous. Their top guys, you have to be aware of where they are at on the ice at all times.”
Against the Clippers, who are the Island Division regular season champs, Harbinson said his group took it to them physically.
“I thought we definitely handled the corner play and the zone possession,” he added. “We just did a great job of cycling the puck and owning zone time. Making good decisions with the puck. That’s what we need to do against Merritt (Feb. 29)”
Also scoring for the Vees were Demico Hannoun, Gabe Bast and Jack Ramsey.
The Vees finish with a 6-0-0-1 record against Trail and improve their record to 23-7-1-1 against the Interior Division. The Vees finish with a 19-6-2-2 road record and now return to the South Okanagan Events Centre for four straight at home to wrap-up the BCHL regular season.
Vees notes: Michael Garteig, who helped the Vees win the 2012 RBC Cup, was named the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference goalie of the week for the Quinnipiac Bobcats. Garteig went 2-0 with a 0.99 goals-against average and a .962 save percentage for Quinnipiac, helping the Bobcats sweep a two-game weekend against Cornell and Colgate. Garteig fashioned a 1-0 shutout Feb. 6 at Cornell. The blanking was Garteig’s NCAA-leading fifth goose egg and also set a new Quinnipiac record as it is the 11th of his college career. He followed that with a 4-2 victory over Colgate, making 31 saves.