WATCH PPVVees Record: 32-12-0-3 67 points (1st Interior)
Home Record: 17-6-0-1
vs. Salmon Arm: 4-1-0-1
vs. Interior: 19-7-0-1
Last 10: 8-2-0-0
Road Record: 11-9-1-1
vs. Interior: 15-16-1-0
Last 10: 4-5-0-1
(Season Series: 5-0 Vees/ 3-2 Vees/3-2 Vees/3-0 Vees/3-2 ‘Backs (2OT)/2-1 ‘Backs)
Vees penalty-kill vs. Salmon Arm: 25/26 (Home: 15/15)
Vees Scoring vs. Salmon Arm:
Sam Mellor 2-7-9 Troy Stecher 2-5-7
Brad McClure 3-2-5 Wade Murphy 3-2-5
Ryan Gropp 2-0-2 Cam Amantea 1-1-2
Brock Balson 0-2-2 James de Haas 0-1-1
Sean Flanagan 0-1-1
To steal the great line by former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Jim Mora, we are indeed talking about playoffs tonight (video gets me every time).
The Vees welcome back the Salmon Arm Silverbacks to the SOEC. The two teams haven’t met since December 12th, when the Silverbacks edged the Vees 2-1. In fact, the Silverbacks have won the last two over the Vees, as they also picked up a 3-2 double-overtime win at home back on December 1st. The Vees won the previous four and outscored the Silverbacks 11-4 in those four wins.
Tonight is a possible first round Interior Playoff preview, as the Vees hold down top spot in the division and the Silverbacks are hanging onto the fourth and final playoff position. Yes, things can certainly change but don’t be surprised come mid-March if these two teams are meeting in the postseason. These two recently met in the playoffs, in 2011 to be exact, as the Silverbacks ousted the Vees in five games in the Interior Conference Semi-Finals.
It will be interesting to see what Vees team we get tonight at the SOEC. Saturday the Vees looked nothing like the team we saw one night earlier against the Merritt Centennials. I’m speaking more from an offensive standpoint, as the Vees Saturday scored eight goals, put more shots on goal and went to the net with a purpose.
Saturday was more of an open game compared to Friday and the Vees in fact were probably more sloppy defensively than Friday. So, with all that said, here’s to the Vees combining Friday’s defensive performance with Saturday’s offensive output; that’s the perfect concoction. Friday the Vees gave up very little in the way of scoring chances to the Cents, and only did give up 28 shots. The one goal against was an error on defensive zone coverage and that one mistake was all the Cents’ needed and stood up to be the difference; usually happens in tight-checking games.
Saturday’s start was much improved from Friday, as the Vees had way more energy off the start and attacked the opposition zone with purpose. The Vees weren’t indecisive Saturday when crossing the blue-line, as they seemed to have a plan of attack every time they rushed the puck in; at one point they had three goals on just eight shots. They will need more of the same tonight against the ‘Backs.
The power-play is also showing signs its going in the right direction. The Vees scored three power-play goals on Saturday, that after scoring four on the man-advantage the previous Saturday. The Vees power-play has been around the 25 percent mark since early January and that can be contributed to the addition of John Siemer. The forward has really given the power-play a shot in the arm. His soft hands and ability to get pucks into scoring areas has really benefited the likes of Wade Murphy, Sam Mellor and Brad McClure. Siemer set up Sam Mellor with a pretty goal on Saturday with a nice dish from the left goal-line. The Vees power-play has had it’s share of success against the ‘Backs this season (8/29) operating at 29 percent through six games. They had six and five power-plays in the last two games respectively as well. When, not if, they get their chances the Vees need to capitalize and make the ‘Backs pay for their transgressions.
The Vees will also need to keep their cool, as they have run into penalty trouble in the season series. The Vees have surrendered five power-plays in the last four meetings against Salmon Arm. Fortunately the Vees penalty-kill has been dynamite and has bailed them out of trouble, as their PK is 19-20 in the four games. It’s always a heated and emotional affair when these two teams meet up. As mentioned above the Vees will get their chances but so too will the Silverbacks. It sounds tired and cliché but the Vees have to walk the fine-line tonight.
Another cliché to throw at you but the start will also be key with the Vees. It seems the starts of games have really dictated how games have gone for them recently. They were flat on Friday off the get-go and ran out of time in trying to come back against Merritt. Saturday they flew out of the shoot and never really looked back. But it could be argued the Vees have had so-so starts in their last two games. Despite taking a four-goal lead into the intermission Saturday, the Bulldogs had a strong push from the face-off, put a lot of shots towards the goal and had a handful of good chances. The Vees did block a lot of those attempts and did rebound and popped in three goals in mere minutes.
The Vees need a strong start, push the pace, and go at the Silverbacks who might be a bit thin with a few key injuries. The Vees have had success in the first against the ‘Backs, outscoring them 8-3 in the first period through six games.
The Silverbacks have hit a bit of a speed bump, as they’ve dropped their last four games, including a 4-2 setback on home-ice to Merritt on Wednesday. However as mentioned, the Silverbacks have gotten the better of the Vees in the last two meetings.
Alex Gillies is on a bit of tear, the Vernon product has five points in his last three games. Evan Anderson leads his team in scoring against the Vees with three goals and four points; Anderson is questionable for tonight’s clash. Others the Vees will have to be weary of come from the blue-line. Shane Hanna leads the team in scoring with 43 points, two points better than Troy Stecher for the tops among defensemen in the BCHL. Hanna is their 1A puck carrier from the back-end and isn’t shy about leading the rush into the offensive zone. Another threat is Brayden Sherbinin, who’s scored against the Vees this season, and is also a player who has no issue about taking the biscuit end-to-end.
Hanna and Sherbinin are the two that “carry the mail” when getting the offense started as it really does start with these two puck carriers. The Vees will need to find a way to take the puck away from the pair and force them to play defense for the majority of their shifts. They can’t hurt you if they don’t have the puck.
Others the Vees will have to keep tabs on is Alex Gillies and Steven Iacobellis. Gillies has been awfully quiet against the Vees this season and Iacobellis has two assists so far against the Vees. This Salmon Arm team likes to spread out their scoring as no one has more than 18 goals on their roster and just five players have hit double-digits in goals. It’s a team that doesn’t score a whole heck of a lot but on the flip-side is a team that has developed into a stingy defensive club; just look at the last two encounters.