( A bit of a cluster….in and around the West Kelowna net Friday)
Friday was not the way the Vees wanted to start the unofficial second half of the season. Friday was the Vees first game in 13 days, first game after ten days off, first game after the Christmas break.
And it stood out for the wrong reasons.
The Vees, despite having a couple of good days of practice, and a good morning skate, didn’t look like a team that was “dialed in.” It was a sluggish start, and didn’t get much better as the game wore on. It was a performance that was riddled with miscues and mistakes but despite all that, the Vees did score first. But the positive vibes didn’t last long. The Warriors tied the game late in the period, which was a snapshot of how the game was going to unfold.
Despite not looking good in the first period, the Vees still had a chance to grab the lead early in the second. But they squandered that, with more sloppiness and the Warriors capitalized and never really looked back.
Yes, the Vees did come back to tie the game at two’s after Shawn Hochhausen scored a go-ahead shorthanded goal in the opening moments of the second. But after they drew even, the Vees couldn’t get it together and the Warriors went out to score three straight goals to walk away with a 5-2 win.
As Vees captain Troy Stecher tweeted after the game “Ew. One to forget immediately. #ReboundTomorrow” Well put.
Nothing really was working for the Vees, as they weren’t sharp in their own zone, had trouble making clean passes and struggled with sustaining any real pressure in the offensive zone. Basically Friday was a stinker. The coaches knew it, the players knew it. The big crowd at the SOEC knew it. Time to move on, regroup and get ready for tomorrow.
Before we do that, a few thoughts from the loss:
- It was disappointing to have that happen in front of the second biggest crowd of the season; the biggest outside of the home opener. Over two thousand fans packed the SOEC and it looked great. Unfortunately they didn’t have much to cheer about but were good sports. I hope most come back on January 5th against Surrey and they will have a good reason to as well; more on that on Monday.
- A tip of the hat to the West Kelowna Warriors. They were shorthanded, missing four regulars. Only had 11 upfront, and that’s with two AP’s but you couldn’t tell. They played three lines heavily and they were up to the challenge. The D-core was very sound too, only coughing up two goals and 24 shots.
- The Warriors were the hungrier team, and that was evident throughout the game. They were winning the puck battles, winning the races to loose pucks and just seemed to want it that much more. It really seemed like this was a team that prepared for tonight like it was the opening night of the playoffs.
- The win snaps a 14, yes 14 game losing streak against Penticton. To say it was a big win, is the understatement of the season. Remember, the Warriors were winless in their last four heading into tonight’s game. They wanted it bad and it showed.
- Defensively, I thought the Warriors played their best game as a group since I came on board with the Vees. The pair of Braxton Bilous and Brett Zarazun where rock solid, the best I’ve seen from them yet. Adam Plant and Josh Monk were very sound and provided a noticeable threat from the blue-line.
- Tyler Briggs wasn’t overly busy or thrust-ed into a heavy workload and credit that to his blue-liners.
- As I talk about the great defensive play of the Warriors, I should mention the Vees were nowhere near their best offensively. The Vees were to perimeter and didn’t get to the scoring areas enough tonight. Four shots in the third period is all I need to say about that effort.
- Even though the Warriors line of French, Lloyd and Basara get a lot of attention, their best might have been Anholt, Hochhausen, Houcher, well the best pair maybe in Anholt and Hochhausen.
- Another good line on Friday was Clark, Simmonds and Hascarl. A unit that scored a big goal late in the first period and had a presence on the fore-check.
- Mike Rebry looked pretty good, considering he was playing his first game in two months. An assist on the opening goal, and a couple of scoring chances that stood out for me. Rebry still isn’t 100 percent, as he is still building up his strength after his injury.
- Chad Katunar was valiant in-goal for the Vees, even though four went by him. Katunar was not at fault on any of the four, and in fact made some big saves throughout the game to give the Vees a chance. His penalty-shot save in the second was huge but the Vees squandered the chance to build on it. When the Vees were down 3-2, he made quite a few clutch saves to keep them within striking distance. The fourth goal, the one that broke their back, was tipped and he had no chance. Katunar was far from the reason why this team lost tonight.
- The Vees need more urgency in their game tomorrow, some real hunger. The Warriors played their butts off and were desperate to get two points from the Vees. The Vees have to do the same when the go into the Warriors barn Saturday.