Vees interior conference champions


By Fraser Rodgers

No one knew it at the time, but Brock Balson played hero again for the Vees in the Interior Conference Final. Balson did indeed tip a James De Haas shot just 1:44 into overtime, as the Vees came from behind to upend the West Kelowna Warriors 2-1 in game five; the Vees winning their second straight Interior Conference Championship.

Balson was the hero in game three, scoring in double-overtime at Royal LePage Place to put the Vees up 3-0 in the Interior Conference Final. Three nights later he clinches the series on home ice and sets up a date with the Surrey Eagles in the Fred Page Cup Final.

Sam Mellor started the play when he rushed into the Warriors zone down the right –wing. Mellor then stopped in the corner and hit the trailer James De Haas with a pass at the top of the left-circle. De Haas let go a wrist-shot that was redirected by Balson at the near-post and past the blocker of Tyler Briggs, sending over sixteen hundred fans into a frenzy. When the dust settles, the scoring play will read Balson from  De Haas and Mellor at 1:44.

The Vees needed some puck luck, something they haven’t had much of in the playoffs, just to force the overtime period. Down one at the start of the third, the energy line provided the spark the Vees needed.  Cody DePourcq came down the left-wall and from the corner threw a pass out front in the Warriors crease. AP Josh Blanchard, playing in place of the injured Cam Amantea, drove the net and had the pass go off his skate and underneath Tyler Briggs at 3:09. The Warriors protested but the referees concluded that the puck bounced-off Blanchard’s skate and was not illegally kicked-in. Blanchard’s first career goal is one no one will soon forget.

In a period which they had the edge in play, the Warriors scored the game’s first goal. Near the midway mark of the second, after a scramble in front of Chad Katunar’s net, Reid Simmonds slid the puck past the fallen Vees goalie at 8:03. Simmonds scoring the Warriors last two goals, as he was the overtime hero of game four’s 5-4 win. The Warriors had a full-court press in the middle stanza and outshot the Vees 15-9 but Chad Katunar kept his team within striking distance.

Three Stars:

  1. Chad Katunar
  2. Tyler Briggs
  3. James De Haas

The series wills start in Surrey a week from tomorrow, Friday, April 12th at the South Surrey Arena. Game two goes the following night, Saturday April 13th; both games are at 7:15pm. The Vees play games three and four at the SOEC on Monday April 15th and Tuesday April 16th. Due to a scheduling conflict at the SOEC, the two teams will announce a schedule for games five through seven in the coming days.

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