Friday, March 13, 2015

Former Vernon Viper Hannoun Hopes Third Times A Charm:

This was in yesterdays Penticton Herald Newspaper:

Vees forward hopes third time a charm

Thursday, March 12, 2015

David Crompton/Penticton Herald

If you can’t beat him, get him to join you.

Perhaps the Penticton Vees had that in mind when they acquired 19-year-old forward Demico Hannoun in the off-season.

Hannoun had helped eliminate the Vees in two consecutive post-seasons – with the Surrey Eagles in the 2012-13 Fred Page Cup final and with the Vernon Vipers in the 2013-14 Interior Division final.

“We didn’t want to play against him again,” quipped Vees GM/head coach Fred Harbinson. “He’s a great kid who wants to become a better player. He’s come through for us in some really big games.”

Now the North Delta native will be looking to help the Vees beat his old Vernon team and avenge last year’s heartbreaking loss in overtime of Game 7.

The Vees and Vipers clash in Games 1 and 2 on Saturday and Sunday, both 6 p.m. puck-drops at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

“It’s a little different, but the attitude doesn’t really change,” said Hannoun, who bagged a career-best 23 goals this season. “You come out as hard as ever … it doesn’t matter if you have friends on the other side. It’s all about winning and getting to the (BCHL) final.”

Hannoun, hampered by a back injury in last season’s playoff run for Vernon, has been a noticeably bigger force this season with the Vees - and he credits much of that to Harbinson.

“He has helped me so much … working with me to keep my feet moving and improving my defensive game and play away from the puck,” said the six-foot-one, 195-pounder. “I’ve found that playing well defensively leads to offence.”

Hannoun, tied for the Vees playoff scoring lead with six points in five games, has found a home on a line with gifted offensive players Patrick Newell and 16-year-old phenom Tyson Jost.

Hannoun has been arguably the Vees most physical forward, and he jokingly said some of that has to do with sticking up for Jost.

“A lot of guys try to get (Jost) off his game, get under his skin,” said Hannoun. “He can handle himself but he doesn’t do much chirping and stuff out there. I take care of that for him. I like playing a physical game.”

Hannoun said the line built chemistry quickly.

“We know where each other is on the ice all the time,” Hannoun explained. “We don’t have to talk too much. Those guys are so talented and so easy to play with.”

He said the Vees will be facing a Vernon team that works hard, and plays a fast, physical brand of hockey.

“We’ve really got to limit our turnovers in the neutral zone,” said Hannoun.

Harbinson said Hannoun brings a lot of experience to the Vees, noting he’s played in two straight RBC Cup national championships and a lot of pressure-filled games.

“His teammates really enjoy having him here,” said Harbinson. “Demico has been a great addition for us. When he keeps his feet going, that line becomes extremely dangerous.”

Harbinson – who has a great disdain for undisciplined penalties – hasn’t had problem with many of Hannoun’s, despite the fact he led the Vees in penalty minutes in the regular season with 54 and thus far in the playoffs with 12.

“He stays disciplined and often ends up taking another guy off with him,” said the coach. “I do have a short leash on the guys when it comes to lazy, undisciplined penalties.”

Hannoun has one more year of junior eligibility but this will be it as he is bound for Michigan Tech University on a scholarship this fall.

After coming close with Surrey and Vernon, Hannoun gets one more crack at the brass ring with the Vees.

“I’m hoping third time is a charm,” said Hannoun. “To be honest though, I’m not looking past the first shift of Saturday’s game. We’ve had a few days off here and everyone is feeling refreshed and ready to go. It’s going to be fun.”

For his part, Harbinson said not much has needed to be said as the Vees go through their final few practises before the Interior final curtain-raiser.

“Playing against our biggest rival and the team that ended our season last year, it certainly amplifies things,” said Harbinson. “But the bottom line is we’re one series away from the (BCHL) final. That’s why we play … to win championships for our fans and our organization and to put another banner up in those rafters.”

ICE CHIPS: D Shayne Gwinner, who left the Vees prior to the post-season due to personal reasons, will not return. Harbinson said the Vees are fully healthy going into the series with 13 forwards, six defencemen and two goaltenders … Tickets for Games 1 and 2 are still available at the Valley First Box Office at the SOEC.

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