1) Ghosts of Cominco: Pretty much says it all, as the oldest rink in the BCHL seemed to be alive and trying anyway she could, with her quirky bounces and all, to get the Smokies the two points.
The bounces are so unpredictable as uncommon and the rarest of goals are the norm in Trail. Jake Lucchini scored just his fifth of the season in the first period and he wasn’t even facing the net. He threw a puck, from behind the net, out front which appeared to hit the back leg of either Nic Renyard or the defenseman in the crease. Renyard made the initial save off the partial breakaway and Sean Flanagan swept the rebound away from danger or so the Vees thought.
Fast-forward to the Smokies second goal, the tying marker by Braeden Jones from the neutral zone. Yes it happened again to the Vees. Jones, who up until his goal, didn’t see a regular shift in the third period. So Jones did like he was taught to do, like all players were, when at the end of their shift, to get the puck in deep and go off for the change. Well he ended up doing more than that. His shoot-in from the left-wing at centre, kicked-off a stanchion on the left-boards and ricocheted into the open net. Poor Nic Renyard, who was doing what he was supposed to do and that’s wheel out behind his goal to stop the puck for the D-man.
If that wasn’t bizarre enough, Marley Keca, yes he who hadn’t scored yet this season, gave the Smokies the lead on a power-play goal. Keca made a nice pinch from the left point and snuck down to the back-post. He was given a nice cross-crease fed from Connor Collett and he made no mistake. So the leagues worse power-play scores a goal late in the third and off the stick off the defenseman who had yet to score this season? Yeah, it was Keca’s first goal not only this season but first since January 13th, 2012. Yeah..
Finally, in overtime the Vees missed their best chance to win the game when John Siemer forced the turnover in the circle but shot the puck well wide. The rebound came to Valik Chickin who threw it up ice to Garrett McMullen and the rest was history. Everyone will remember McMullen, scoring the OT winner, keeping his team’s playoff hopes alive. The Vees seconds before should have had the game winner.
The Vees are now 0-1-0-1 in Trail this season and have been outscored 9-5 in those two losses.
The ghosts of Cominco.
2) Chances, Chances, Chances: Another night where the Vees created plenty of scoring opportunities and threw plenty of rubber at the net. The Vees had 37 shots on the Trail’s Adam Todd but couldn’t get the elusive overtime winner. I would love to know the spread in scoring chances tonight. The Smokies did have their share of chances but I bet it was lopsided in the Vees favour.
Last night the Vees had 34 shots on goal and out-chanced the Centennials 20-7, yes 20-7. Tonight I bet the margin was not as severe but still was quite in favour of the Vees. It is a frustrating time right now for the offense as the Vees seem to be snake-bitten and at the worst possible time.
You can play this game back in your head and think of at least a dozen quality looks at the Trail goal. The three that stood out for me revolve around two players. John Siemer had a great deke in the first when he tried to stuff the puck at the near-post, only to have the defenseman sweep it off the goal-line with his stick. Siemer also had the great look during the three-on-three overtime right before the Trail game-winner.
Sam Mellor had three assists but easily could have had three goals or more tonight; my vote for the Vees best forward on Saturday. The sequence that stands out for me was his three consecutive shots at the end of the second, and all from within seven feet of the net. His first went over the net, off the glass and back out front. He quickly put that rebound off the cross-bar from the identical spot in the slot. The rebound from that shot came back to him but he had his third attempt blocked. Mellor had at least seven, eight maybe even nine shots on goal but could not get the goal he so desperately wanted.
I picked Siemer and Mellor as a small picture into what the Vees are going through. The effort level is there, they’re generating their share of chances but their execution just isn’t where it once was. Sooner or later this team will get the monkey off their back.
3) Animosity: For not playing against each other since late November, both teams quickly manufactured a hate for one another. The Vees took 20 minutes in penalties and the Smokies were booked for 16. It doesn’t sound like a whole heck of a lot but there were zero major penalties handed out.
In all 14 players were penalized and three, two of which were Vees, picked up four-minutes in penalties. It seemed liked at every whistle the two were going at each other’s throats, getting gloves in each others face and exchanging their fair share of jabs; lots of trash talk too.
Remember these two teams have to play three more times over the next two weeks and it shifts back to Penticton on Friday. It was entertaining at times and I’m sure the fans liked the fireworks. But the Vees also took some dumb penalties and one negated any chance for a power-play of their own. The Vees in the last two games have taken far too many stupid penalties. They were burned for two power-play goals against last night on two ill-advised penalties and another tonight. Trail’s third goal was a power-play marker and a bad penalty on the Vees player who picked it up in the offensive zone; that makes coaches go crazy.
The Vees will need to tighten it up heading into March and not let frustration get the best of them and put them in bad spots.