GM 1 RECAP /GM 2 RECAP
GM 3 RECAP /GM 4 RECAP
GM 5 RECAP
Jan 5th 3-2 (2 OT) Vees (SOEC)
Jan 11th 2-1 Eagles (SSA)
Fred Page Cup Schedule
Game 1 5-2 Eagles (SSA)
Game 2 2-0 Eagles (SSA)
Game 3 3-2 Vees (SOEC)
Game 4 3-2 Vees (SOEC)
Game 5 2-1 (OT) Eagles (SSA)
Game 6 Sunday, April 21st (SOEC)
Game 7** Monday, April 22nd (SSA)
** If necessary
Games in Surrey are at 7:15pm
Game Six is at 5pm
Vees power-play: 13-57 (22.81%) Home: 5-28 (17.86%) Series: 2-15
Vees penalty-kill: 42-46 (87.50%) Home: 19-21 (90..48%) Series: 14-17
Eagles’ power-play: 13-73 (17.81%) Road: 7-32 (21.88%)
Eagles’ penalty-kill: 46-52 (88.46%) Road: 16-21 (76.19%)
Vees Home Playoff Record: 7-0-0 GF: 27 GA: 14 (To date: 26-7-0-2)
Eagles Road Playoff Record: 5-2-0 GF: 27 GA: 16 (To date: 21-10-1-3)
For the first time in the post-season, the Penticton Vees are facing elimination as the host the Surrey Eagles Sunday, in game six of the Fred Page Cup Final. The Eagles lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 and can capture their first championship in eight seasons with a win Sunday afternoon. However, if this series tells us anything, it’s not going to be easy for the road team.
The home team has won every game in the series and the Vees won games three and four by identical 3-2 scores. The home dominance goes back into the regular season as well, as the Vees took down the Eagles again 3-2 in double-overtime on January 5th at the SOEC; the Eagles beat the Vees 2-1 on January 11th.
Game five was the first time this series went past regulation, as the Eagles won 2-1 on an early goal by Kevan Kilistoff. The Vees actually opened the scoring in the dying moments of the first period when Travis Blanleil scored his second of the playoffs. Scoring first hasn’t necessarily brought success in the series, as the teams two combined for a 2-3 record.
The Vees need little motivation heading into Sunday’s do-or-die game six with the Eagles. However, if you need something to get the juices going, how about winning this one for your Captain? The longest tenured Vee, Troy Stecher, is playing his final home game. Sunday marks career game number 198 for the third-year Vee rear-guard. Stecher came to the Vees as a wide-eye 16 year-old and whenever his BCHL career is over, will be leaving as one of the best defenseman this organization has had in recent memory.
(Note: 2nd intermission I chat with the Vees Captain on EZ Rock + Fasthockey)
There’s also six twenty-year olds playing their final game at the SOEC in Sam Mellor, John Siemer, Thomas Nitsche, Sean Flanagan, Bryan Sinz and Rob Mann. Also three are graduating in Wade Murphy, James De Haas and Chad Katunar. That group itself will have the juices flowing, knowing it’s the final time they will play a home game as a Penticton Vee.
More importantly, that group and the entire team doesn’t want this to be there last game and no team wants someone but them celebrating a championship on their ice. If the Vees can’t win the Fred Page Cup at home now, they will do whatever they can to make sure the Eagles don’t get to in their rink. There is a lot of cliches that can be used ahead of this game but there’s one I like more than others. I hear this often and it usually is true, but when you have a team up against the wall, that’s usually when their the most dangerous. I might have gotten the words mixed up but you get the point. The Vees have to play with desperation and there mentality is this is part one of two game sevens.
History is on the Vees side if we’re looking at how this series has played out. The home team has won every game and the Vees are undefeated at home, now 7-0-0 at the SOEC in the post-season. They’ve been a very good team at home, as up until now, their record is 26-7-0-2; points in 28 of 35 games. They’ve always seem to have found a way to win at home in the playoffs no matter how many times you think their done. Three times now at home they’ve come back to win after trailing heading into the third period. Just look at game four where they were down 1-0 after two periods, only to come back and rally for a three-goal third period and win 3-2. One round earlier they were down 1-0 again after two, in game five to West Kelowna, only to win 2-1 in overtime and clinch the series. Go back to the first round, where the Vees were behind 2-1 to the Salmon Arm Silverbacks heading into the third in game two. But the Vees put together another three-goal third and won that game 4-2. This team has a never say die attitude and I have no reason to think it’s going to change now. Hey, they’ve already come back from a two-game hole in this series and there’s no reason to believe they can’t win another two in a row starting today.
An interesting trend regarding the Vees special teams, as they are a perfect 9-0 when they score a power-play goal; 1-2-0-2 when they don’t. The power-play has hit a bit of a rough patch, with just two goals in the series and three in the Vees last eight games. The penalty-kill has settled in after some earlier series struggles, as the PK is a perfect 7-7 in the last two games and 14-17 in the series. Both teams were 0-4 on Thursday, as both PK units were up to the task.
The Vees power-play has had it’s ups and downs in this series but remember the Eagles PK is every bit as good as the Vees and it’s the leagues best on the road. One could argue since game three, the penalty-kill has been more of the story than the power-play. However, as the numbers show, a power-play goal would be gladly welcomed by the Vees.
Wade Murphy might be a key to success in game six, as the Vees seem to find success when he scores. In the playoffs they sport a 3-1 record when he picks up a goal and were 13-2-0-3 in the regular season when he found the score-sheet. Murphy is tied with Brad McClure for the team scoring lead in the series, as both have two goals in five games. Travis Blanleil, Ryan Gropp and Jade Soleway are tied for second with a goal and an assist each. The Vees depth has come through in the series, as each of their four lines has at least one goal and all but four players have at least a single point. But it’s time for the players at the fore-front to step up and lead this team to a game six win.
“Chad Katunar has been solid throughout the Vees playoff run this year but if there was a night to have a big game performance it’s tonight.”
That from my preview for game five this past Thursday and he nearly did have that performance. Outside of the one gaffe in the third period and it was a gaffe on the tying goal, Katunar was air-tight. From the start you got the feeling he might just pull off that performance to help “steal” a win and he was well on his way when Travis Blanleil scored late in the first. Things came unglued somewhat after the tying goal in the third period, but Katunar regrouped and made a pad-save at the buzzer to make sure the Vees saw overtime. In the extra frame, the goal was an odd one and a play you can’t really point a finger at any one in particular; a home town bounce for the Eagles.
Tonight though, the Vees will need the Katunar they saw for the majority from game five and maybe even a bit more, as everyone has to elevate their play in pressure situations. Katunar’s rebound control will be crucial as the Eagles use the lob technique to crease chaos around the Vees goal, all in an effort to get secondary chances. Also Katunar will have to be extra cautious when the puck is around the net and be smart with his puck playing. We saw the outcome in game five when it goes the other way, as the Eagles aren’t shy with their fore-check pressure.
Despite the numbers I gave you earlier, I still think scoring first today is crucial and will go a long way in deciding the outcome. Well, if the Vees can score first and build on their lead is what I should say. They had the narrow one-goal advantage for the majority of game five but had some great chances to go up by two. If they got that extra goal who knows for sure what would have happened, but the Vees quite possibly could be the ones with a 3-2 series lead. An early goal would be a big boost but scoring one again and not allow the Eagles to come back, like game three, is crucial. In the Vees two wins they’ve had to hold off two late pushes by the Eagles, which was expected. But what if they can get out ahead by more than one goal? Not only puts them in great shape for a win and a chance to play game seven but would no doubt be a shot in the arm to their offensive weapons. No Vees forward has more than two goals or two points in this series. Goals and points have been hard to come by, but if there was a time to have an offensive outburst, it’s Sunday.
The Eagles are one win away from their first Fred Page Cup since 2005 but will have to be the first team to win on the road to do so. The Eagles trailing early in the third period, found a way to win in game five. Trevor Cameron tied the game just before the six-minute mark on a wrap-around. Kevan Kilistoff ended the game before the six-minute on an end-wall carom in OT. The Eagles are 5-2 on the road in the playoffs but both losses have come at the SOEC.
If you do look at game three and four, the Eagles could argue they had their chances to win those game and it’s hard to argue against that. In both games they were tied in the third period, but as their Head Coach Matt Erhart said after game four, in both instances they found a way to lose and the Vees found a way to win. Tough to pick apart anything the Eagles struggled at in the two games in Penticton, it was simply the fact they made one more mistake then the Vees and we’re talking about minor gaffes.
The Eagles haven’t won in Penticton yet this season, as they are 0-3 if you include the regular season, but on the flip-side, all three games were decided by one goal; all three were identical 3-2 losses. Up until games three and four, the Eagles were very comfortable on the road, as they were 5-0 in the previous rounds, only playing the require minimum on the Coastal Conference side.
One of the reasons why the Eagles are one win away from the championship, is the timely scoring they’ve received from up and down their line-up. Like the Vees, the Eagles boast a lot of depth up front and they’ve been getting contributions from everywhere. Only one of their two goals Thursday came from their top-six, as Kevan Kilistoff started the game on the fourth-line with Stefan Burzan and Anthony Brito. No other points came from their forward group, as Adam Tambellini, Brady Shaw and Michael Stenerson were held point-less but the Eagles still won. If that is not a good sign of depth I don’t know what is.
Though he did not score on Thursday, thus ending his four-game goal streak, I still think Nic Pierog has been the Eagles best forward in the series. Michael Stenerson had a much better game on Thursday, as I thought he was really buzzing. But if the Eagles are going to close-out the series tonight, they’re going to need some heavy lifting done by their big three upfront.