Delayed but here are my three standouts from the Vees 3-2 loss in Merritt.
1) The Start: Something of a concern against Merritt in the last two meetings. I can copy and paste what I said about the start of the February 8th game to describe the start of Saturday’s tilt. The Vees had a rough go in first eight minutes or so, as they were stuck in their zone. Merritt pressured the Vees from the face-off and were winning draws that resulted in the Vees chasing. The Vees didn’t match the Merritt energy level early and it cost them one goal; off a face-off. I will say this again, every team wants to badly beat the Vees, especially teams directly below them in the standings. The Vees need to find that “hate” and channel it in their game. To their credit they got better as the game wore on. The Vees need to be zero’d from the opening face-off against Cowichan Valley.
2) Face-Offs: Outside of Jedd Soleway, the Vees struggled in the circle and that was part in parcel with their bad start. Merritt were continually winning draws and that meant the Vees were chasing after the puck in their own zone. That can tire a team out, as you’re forced to chase after the opposition and try to win possession back. The Vees did start to win their share of draws as the game moved into the second but they needed more in the first period. Big boost comes Sunday as Mike Rebry returns from his five-game suspension and will have an impact in the middle.
3) Power-Play: The man-advantage had some great opportunities at key times to get the Vees on the score-sheet but it couldn’t cash in. John Siemer did score a power-play goal in the second but that was the only one on five chances. The Vees had a five-on-three in the first but nothing materialized They did get a raw deal when Louie Nanne’s goal was disallowed late in the first on the power-play. However, the power-play needs find a way to punish teams for their transgressions. The silver lining is the fact the Vees are generating power-play opportunities and it looked like it was going in the right direction before the Merritt game. It feels like every time the power-play take one step forward, it takes two steps back. Coaches say they want to average one power-play goal a game, they did that last night, but I felt like there was goals left on the table. Interesting stat is the Vees are 23-5-0-1 when scoring a power-play goal. Hopefully we see a couple Sunday afternoon.