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Behind The Bench – Keanu

“Keanu Believe It”

… as told by Royals Assistant Coach JF Best

The Game:

  • Winterhawks (28-6-1-3) at Royals (22-13-2) – Friday Jan 10th, 2020.
  • Portland sits 1st in the U.S. Division and 3rd in the CHL Rankings.
  • Goaltender Joel Hofer returns to Winterhawk’s line-up after winning gold with Team Canada at the 2020 World Junior Championships. Victoria fans recognize this achievement before the puck drop with a loud, lengthy, and classy standing ovation.

The Scenario:

  • Expectations are high as Victoria plays their first game since making a splash at the WHL trade deadline. New acquisitions Brayden Tracey and Adam Evanoff are dressed and in the line-up.
  • Both teams come into the Friday-Saturday double-header red-hot. Royals have won 5 of 7, Portland has won 6 in a row.
  • Portland leads the game 1-0 with 7 minutes remaining in the 3rd period.
  • Both goalies have played lights out.

The Play:

In a low-scoring game, against a tough opponent, the Victoria players trust their positioning, apply some offensive pressure, and then let the skill take over as they battle to tie the game at 1. Involved in this play are #9 Matthew Smith (Smitty), #16 Carson Miller (Millsy), and Swiss rookie Keanu Derungs – the eventual goal scorer.

The below video has been slowed down in 4 places to highlight these important moments:

  • Rushing from the defensive end, Smitty carries the puck into the Portland zone as F1 (Forward 1). He gets as deep as he safely can with full possession before hitting the brakes for a quick delay and a soft chip to the corner.
  • Millsy knows his job as F2 (Forward 2) is to follow up on the play and use good puck protection skills to maintain possession. He then makes a nice cycle pass to below the goal line keeping it just out of the reach of Portland’s strong side defenseman.
  • Right before Millsy makes the pass, Keanu finds himself in a good net front position. He reads the cycle pass and quickly jumps onto possession.
  • Using his momentum and some excellent edge work, Keanu handles the puck deftly and initiates the wrap-around seamlessly using his left inside skate edge. He does well to avoid Hofer’s stick check to get the initial shot off, then follows up his own rebound with poise, quickly burying the puck through the open five-hole.

… Keanu’s late game heroics send the game to Overtime, giving “new guy” Brayden Tracey a chance to show off his shot accuracy and give Victoria the 2-1 win! Keanu Believe it!

The Celly:

In our first BTB feature we saw Phillip Schultz merge sporting worlds with his ‘Carmelo’ celly, then last month we watched Tarun Fizer get technical with a ‘one knee inverted sword tuck.’ Leave it to a rookie to try to raise the stakes…

After scoring one of his biggest goal of the season, Keanu Derungs feeds off the deafening crowd noise to produce a classy single-leg, double-fist pump celebration before getting mauled by his teammates.