I was tossing around a few titles that would be appropriate for tonight’s post-game write-up, and I think the above best suits tonight’s game. A forgettable first forty minutes, with a strong push in the third but in the end, too little too late.
The Vees didn’t look like the team we saw on the weekend, well in the first two periods anyways. Just like in their last encounter, the Vees were out-worked by the Silverbacks in the early going. It just seemed like the Silverbacks, not the Vees, had the “fire in their belly,” so to speak.
The Vees didn’t do themselves any favours in the opening twenty minutes. Going down two goals isn’t ideal and especially in front of your own fans. The Vees just didn’t look engaged off the start; unlike the weekend, where I saw a team going hard, making crisp passes and pushing the pace. Tonight I saw a team that at times looked lethargic in the first, too many times being beaten to pucks in their own zone, sloppy passing and too many turnovers.
In all honesty, I think the Vees were lucky not to have not gone down by more than two in the first period. If you may recall, the Silverbacks had a handful of scoring chances ring of the red pipe; a couple going off the cross-bar. An inch here and an inch there, and the Silverbacks could have doubled the lead they actually had. Hockey is a game of inches and some times the bounces go your way and some times they don’t. I thought the Vees were bailed out by the iron and could have been looking at a much greater deficit.
Time to credit the visitors for their first period, as they played a pretty textbook twenty minutes. They weren’t flashy but kept it simple by just putting countless pucks in deep and had one to two forwards putting pressure on the Vees back-end. The ‘Backs forwards were effective in winning races to pucks in the corners and behind the net, and then working the puck on the cycle. It wasn’t one player or even one particular line that was carrying the Silverbacks, as they played well as group; finding success as a team. Yes, their top line had a few good extended shifts below the Vees goal-line, but so did their second and third units.
The first goal was a combination of bad luck and good timing. Troy Stecher had to deal with a grenade at the Vees blue-line ( a wicked bounce) and it ate him up, bouncing away from his stick and catching him flat-footed. Can’t really harp on the defender as it was a bouncing puck that resembled an R.A. Dickey knuckleball. That situation allowed Evan Anderson, who was in the right spot at the right time, to step around the surprised defender and whack a bouncing puck over Chad Katunar. The puck never settled down and it’s tough for goaltenders to get a read on a puck that is still rolling.
Before fans could finish turning red about the first goal, the Silverbacks scored again, just 59 seconds after the opener. On another blunder, Shane Hanna setup Harlan Orr who tipped a shot past Katunar to put the visitors up by a pair. The Vees tried reversing the puck on the weak-side but no Vee was in sight on the wall; rolling up to Hanna who was streaking off the bench. Hanna danced into the slot, put a well placed shot into a crowd and Orr had his lumber change the puck’s trajectory just enough to fool Katunar.
The Vees hurting themselves in the first as both goals came off mistakes in their own zone. That would be the frustrating thing, despite all the strong play by Salmon Arm, the two goals could be categorize as self-inflicted.Yep, the Silverbacks had their chances and hit a few posts but it was a couple of mental-mistakes by the Vees themselves that put them down by two.
Not much really going on in the second period, except the Vees finding themselves in penalty trouble once again. Just like their last encounter with the Silverbacks, the Vees had a run of penalties against in the middle frame.The Vees almost played six solid minutes short-handed, and when you’re already down by two, six minutes of time not being able to come back feels like an eternity. The Vees did struggle to get into scoring areas just like they did in the first. Credit the Silverbacks defenders, as they were good at boxing out the Vees and not allowing forwards to move in the middle. In the first, the Vees had 15 shots, but like the second, most were from the outside; not really testing Adam Clark.
Clearly something was said between the second and third periods, as we saw a much different team in the third compared to the first two periods. Knowing they needed to get something going and in a hurry, the Vees had a real sense of urgency to their game. They were skating, moving pucks up ice quickly and attacking the net. The Vees literally played the entire period inside the Silverbacks zone, the odd time coming up for air on a line change. Salmon Arm was clearly tiring and hanging on, and at times, only being able to ice the puck.
The Vees relentless pressure finally cracked the Apes defensive wall when Sam Mellor converted on the power-play. Before his goal, the team was oh for on five chances and the PP didn’t look too threatening. I would say one power-play prior started to show signs of getting back on track, and it seemed to be just a matter of time before the man-advantage was going to get a goal back.
The third was very one-sided, the Vees out-shot the Silverbacks 17-2, yes, 17-2. Many might wonder what the outcome could have been if the Vees had that effort over sixty minutes. Would we even be talking about a loss? Tough to really say, but a complete sixty minute effort would have gone a long way in changing tonight’s story line.
The win was the Silverbacks first at the SOEC since March 14th, 2011; game five of the Interior Conference Semi-Final. Adam Clark picked up his first career win against the Vees. Clark was 0-6 with a goals-against of four and a sub-900 save-percentage; I’m sure it meant a lot.
Time to regroup and put the focus on Friday’s game in the snake pit in Vernon. It seems like the perfect remedy, as a Vees-Vipers clash brings the best out of everyone.