Friday, 7 November 2014

PREVIEW: Grizzlies vs. Vees, 11/7/14

    The Victoria Grizzlies play their first home game in nearly two weeks against a tough task, the Penticton Vees. For the Grizzlies, they're trying to claw their way back into contention in the Island Division despite an over .500 record, while the Vees are already in cruise control in the Interior Division with a healthy ten point lead on the rest of the division. For the Grizzlies, there's no tougher test in the league than the powerhouse Vees, which represents an opportunity for the boys in black and yellow to boost their confidence and morale with a chance to take down the top Jr. A team in the country.

     The Victoria Grizzlies (7-6-0-2, 16pts, 4th Island Division)  are coming off a 5-2 win against Alberni Valley on November 1st, coming off 6 days rest. Victoria is still trying to find consistency in their game, as they haven't been able to produce a consistent 60-minute product so far this season. The Grizzlies have 2 games in 2 nights before taking another 6-day break after this weekend.

     Meanwhile, the Penticton Vees (16-2-0-0, 32pts, 1st Interior Division) are coming off a 3-2 loss against the West-Kelowna Warriors earlier in the week. The Vees are also playing two games in two nights. Penticton has 80 goals for, 30 against for a  +50 differential on the season, over 4 goals a game on average while giving up under 2 goals a game on defence on average. The Vees are the top Jr. A team in the country to date.

     The last meeting between these two teams came on October 18th in Penticton, Liam Findlay’s 2nd period marker would be enough for the Vees to squeak out a 2-1 win at home. More advertised, it was a war of words, as Brad Knight guaranteed that the next time they played, the Victoria squad would defeat the powerhouse Vees, Storm Wahlrab also called the Penticton team a small and not very physical. This did not bode well with Vees head coach Fred Harbinson who defended his team with some salt for the Grizzlies head coach.

     The Grizzlies are coming off a six-day layoff, with their last game being on the road in Alberni Valley on November 1st. For the Grizzlies, it will be a matter of getting their jump back in their step to start the hockey game, and there's no tougher test to try and shake off the rust than the Penticton Vees.

     The Grizzlies special teams have been the highlight of the team so far this season, clicking at 30.5% (1st in BCHL), and although their PK is only at 78.5% (9th in BCHL), they’re also tied for 1st in the BCHL with six shorthanded goals.

     Penticton has 80 goals as a team, 133 assists already, great puck moving team that executes with precision and power, lead by Harvard commit Lewis Zerter-Gossage (9G,14A 23PTS) and Michigan Tech commit Demico Hannoun (13G 7A 20PTS). Hannoun is the older brother of Victoria Royals forward Dante Hannoun. The Vees are similar to the Grizzlies in the fact that the Vees get their scoring from all four lines, maybe on a larger scale than Victoria, but still on the same system.

    For Victoria, Cole Pickup is on fire right now; he was held to 4 assists in first 12 games,but recently, Pickup has  4 goals, 2 assists in last three games and has seemed to re-gain confidence in his offensive game.  Jay Mackie is playing his first game since committing to Holy Cross College (NCAA Div. 1 in Worcester, Massachusetts) for the 2015-16 season. Mackie is currently second in Grizzlies scoring with 5 goals, 12 assists in 15 games this season. Mackie has accumulated 45 points in 72 games in his BCHL career so far.

      Be sure to tune in on either or to watch or listen to the game, it's going to be a great one! - TB

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