The Penticton Vees ended November on a winning note, picking up their second straight win, with a 3-0 blanking of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Vees improve their record to 18-7-0-2 and are 10 points up on second place Merritt but with three more games played.
Three Thoughts that standout
Off on the Right Foot: The Vees scored first, seven minutes into the opening period. Brad McClure making good on a Troy Stecher rebound. McClure showed some good hands on the play, with a slick forehand, backhand deke on the Silverbacks Adam Clark.
It was important for the Vees to come out and press the Silverbacks which they did in the first ten-minutes or so and were rewarded with the game’s first goal. It was the Vees who came out like gangbusters the last time they played the Silverbacks, building up a 3-0 lead after twenty-minutes. It wasn’t three goals but the Vees gladly took the 1-0 lead into the dressing room. Remember, the Vees were scoreless after one in their last home game with Vernon and surrendered the opening goal later in the second. Tonight they were rewarded for their attention to detail in all three zones.
Coming into the game the Vees were a perfect 10-0-0 when leading after the first period and that was bumped up one more tonight. The majority of teams play better with the lead or at least are more confident and the Vees are no exception. They’ve played plenty of catch-up hockey in first periods this season, so that’s why having the lead was so crucial Wednesday.
Pedal to the Metal: The Vees are at their best when they continue to go at the opposition and play up-tempo hockey. Tonight the Vees had a good pace, one I think the Silverbacks struggled to keep up with when the game wore on. The Vees in their last handful of losses have been guilty of letting off the gas or just not playing at a high enough tempo. Tonight the Vees had their legs going early and never slowed down. The Silverbacks weren’t pylons by any means but seemed to waver in the latter half of the game.
The Vees not only played a high-tempo brand of hockey but were effective on the fore-check. You can skate as fast as you want but if you’re not doing anything, you’re just wasting your energy. The Vees tonight were a handful on the fore-check, time and again disrupting the Silverbacks breakout and bottling them up below their circles. You don’t have to be crushing guys to be effective, but by having the first forward press defenders, putting sticks in passing lanes and being determined can cause headaches.
With their effective fore-check the Silverbacks couldn’t really ever get an effective odd-man rush into the Vees zone or sustainable offensive zone time. The Vees forced the issue inside the Salmon Arm blue-line and made matters worse by cluttering up the middle of the ice. The Silverbacks big guns can’t score if they don’t have the puck on their stick.
Cheap Hosts: The Vees were a stingy bunch tonight, as they picked up their four team shutout and Chad Katunar earned his third; second against Salmon Arm. Yes, Salmon Arm out-shot the Vees 11-5 in the third but go back and watch the tape and tell me how many were threatening chances? A few at most. 27 shots against in three periods which includes five Salmon Arm power-plays; a lengthy second period 5-on-3 as well. With that run of Silverback power-plays in the second the Vees still kept the visitors at single digits.
It reads like a cliche, but the Vees defensive success was a team effort. Good net-front presence in their own zone that took away a lot of secondary chances, as the defenders did well at boxing out the Salmon Arm forwards. Speaking of forwards, on the Vees side, when without the puck, the forwards got into shooting lanes, were active with the stick that negated plenty of shots, and were just down-right aggressive on the puck carrier. As soon as a Silverback got over the blue-line someone was in his face or taking him into the wall. The ‘Backs had little to no time with the puck once inside the Vees zone.