1) Home Team Does It Again: It had been a homer series up until game five, as the road team was 0-4 and the Vees were looking to break that trend. They were in good shape, as the “Trench Line” grabbed them a late first period lead.
Travis Blanleil’s tally with just three seconds left in the first looked like it was going to stand up as this game turned into a defensive stalemate. Both teams weren’t giving much of anything and the two teams held each other to single-digit shots in the first two periods.
There wasn’t much time and space in each zone, as both clubs were very good at keeping each other to the outside and no one was really getting to scoring areas in the middle. Each side had moments-flashes of offensive opportunity, but both teams scoring chances were in the single-digits.
The Vees had their moments; Mike Rebry somehow couldn’t get a prone puck in the crease over the goal-line in the second. Vees Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said that Michael Santaguida might have swung his stick back on the puck as he was reaching back in desperation. Also late in the third, John Siemer had an open net after taking the puck way from Santaguida from behind the net. However, as he came out from behind the goal, Siemer had the puck roll off his stick, across the goal-line and out the other side. You can’t make this stuff up.
All these chances for the road team to go up 2-0 or get a late 2-1 lead but nothing would materialize. Credit the Eagles, as they were a pesky bunch, as they kept hanging around and never let themselves get out of striking distance. They had their chances too, a couple bang-bang plays around the Vees net that they just missed on. The Eagles also pressured the Vees late in the second trying to tie the game but Chad Katunar and the defense turned back the attack.
But, it just seemed like it wasn’t meant to be for the Vees, despite how well they were playing. I might sound like a crazy person, but the game had that feeling that larger forces were at play, some call it “hockey gods” but there was something about this game you can’t quite explain.
Again, credit the Eagles, as they regrouped and found a way to tie the game early in the third and it wasn’t how they drew It up I’m sure. After the puck went behind the net, Chad Katunar was beat to it by Trevor Cameron, who curled out for a wrap-around back on the near –side. Katunar was still hung-up on the other side of the goal as he and his stick was caught up in the net. It was like watching a slow-motion car crash; you knew it was coming but you couldn’t look away.
The goal lifted the Eagles, who honestly looked a little defeated to start the third period. But they got the break they need, boy I’ve said that before in this series, and carried that momentum into overtime. Before Kevan Kilistoff scored the game-winner, Colton Mackie was robbed on the door step by Chad Katunar on redirect; the Eagles were pushing early.
The goal itself was a bit of a snapshot of how this series has gone in Surrey for the Vees. The Eagles had some extended pressure, keeping the Vees inside their zone, but all five were back in the “house” for the Vees; where they should be. But Craig Wyszomirski intentionally threw the puck off the end-wall from the point knowing how lively the boards can be. Kilistoff knew it too, as he charged the net and one-timed the bouncing puck over the glove of Chad Katunar.
In games three and four, with the game tied in third period, the Vees were the team that found a way to come up with a win. Well, Thursday, the home team again found a way to win and keep the trending going. Now this obviously means the Vees will win game six and force a game seven on Monday. But in all seriousness, the Vees can hold their heads high after this one, as they played very well, and more than good enough to come out with a win.
2) A Game of Bounces & Inches: That’s been the series in a nutshell and that’s been the difference between winning and losing. The Vees know they got a couple bounces go their way at home and vice versa for Surrey.
It’s such a close series that these little things, a puck bounce can alter the shape of any game. The Vees got a bounce go their way in game four, when Ryan Gropp got an end-wall bounce of his own after Brian Sinz threw a puck towards the net from the point. The Vees were on the right end of a few close calls too in the dying moments of both game three and four when they were nursing one-goal leads.
When you have two teams that are this good, match-up so well with each other, games are going to be decided by the slightest of margins; an inch here or there. seems like it’s been the home team getting all these breaks too through five games. Does that mean the Vees get back on the right side of the puck-luck game? What if Mike Rebry got more of his stick on that loose puck in the crease or John Siemer got more around that wrap-around late in the third? An inch or bounce and were talking about the Vees leading 3-2 but that’s not the case and that’s hockey. No matter how many times you play this game and no matter how well you play, you can still come away empty-handed and dumbfounded. The Vees will have two days to regroup and focus on a must win situation come Sunday.
3) Overcoming Adversity: More of a look ahead to Sunday, but the Vees will need to put this heart-wrenching loss behind them soon and get focused for a must win situation on Sunday.
One would think the two days off might be a good thing for the Vees, a mental break from Thursday’s loss. However, as Steve Cawley pointed out, they would rather want to be playing tomorrow, as the Eagles have had some players eating up significant minutes. It’s a good point, as key members on their blue-line especially have played a high amount minutes in this series and Thursday was no different.
However, that’s not the case, and the Vees can use the two days in a positive manner. Friday will be a chance to decompress, get the loss out their heads and turn the page to an extent. Many on the team, including myself, won’t be getting much sleep after Thursday’s overtime loss. That’s the thing about overtime, as it bring the highest of highs and lowest of lows. The Vees will feel gutted for the next few hours but that will eventually go away and it will be time again to focus on the next game.
This team has already come back from a 2-0 hole in this series and a whole host of obstacles. There’s no reason why they can’t win another two in a row and defend their BCHL championship.
I Believe. Do you?