GM 3 Preview: Series Moves up North

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 Playoff Series Schedule

Game 1 4-2 Vees (SOEC)

Game 2 4-2 Vees (SOEC)

Game 4 Mar 19th (Shaw Centre)

Game 5** Mar 21st (SOEC)

Game 6** Mar 22nd (Shaw Centre)

Game 7** Mar 24th (SOEC)

All games are at 7pm

** If necessary

Vees Playoff History (since 2004-2005)

Salmon Arm Playoff History 

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Vees Logo-2

Vees Playoff Power-Play: 2-8 (1 SHGA)

Vees Playoff Penatly-Kill: 5-6

Vees Playoff Scoring

Sam Mellor 2-2-4 Brad McClure 1-2-3

Louie Nanne Mike Rebry 0-3-3

Thomas Nitsche 1-1-2 Troy Stecher 0-2-2

Travis Blanleil 1-0-1 James de Haas 0-1-1

John Siemer 1-0-1 Wade Murphy 0-1-1

Bryan Sinz 0-1-1 Jedd Soleway 0-1-1

Goaltending

Chad Katunar 2-0-0 2.00 GAA .909 SV%

 Salmon Arm-new 

Silverbacks Playoff Power-Play: 1-6

Silverbacks Playoff Penalty-Kill: 6-8 (1 SHGF)

Silverbacks Playoff Scoring

Josh Bowes 1-1-2 Brett Fagerheim 1-0-1

Shane Hanna 1-0-1 Harlan Orr 1-0-1

Mitch Ferguson 0-1-1 Carter Lukenda 0-1-1

Brayden Sherbinin 0-1-1

Goaltending

Adam Clark 0-1-0 6.00 GAA .667 SV%

Angus Redmond 0-1-0 2.27 GAA .925%

FT_OnDeck-shdwV2 The series shift to the north Shuswap, as the Vees hit the road for games three and four at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm. This is the Silverbacks first playoff home game since March 25th of 2011. That was the Interior Conference Final against the Vernon Vipers, a series they lost in six games.

The Vees are in the driver’s seat with a 2-0 series lead after back-to-back 4-2 wins on the weekend. Game two was more of a back-and-forth affair, with the Vees mustering a third period rally; stealing a page out of the ‘Backs playbook.

However, as the saying goes, you’re never in trouble until you loose on home-ice and that’s what the ‘Backs can take to heart ahead of game three. They aren’t the favorites in the series and many expected the Vees to win both games at home. But now the ‘Backs will have some pressure put on their shoulders with a pivotal game at home. Another “swing game” tonight, as the ‘Backs can make this a series again with a win but a loss and it’s going to be tough climbing out of a three-game hole.

In Salmon Arm this season the Vees were 2-0-0-1, as the only blemish was a 3-2 double-overtime loss on December 1st; former Vee Evan Anderson scored the OT winner. The ‘Backs at home this season were actually below .500 with a 11-13-1-3 record. They were 2-3-0 in their final home games and outscored 18-13 in those five games. But as many do say, regular season stats don’t mean much come playoff time. Read into that what you will.

FT_VeesBeat-shdwV2The Vees did what they wanted to on the weekend, winning both games and holding serve on home-ice. They did win by identical 4-2 scores but in two contrasting styles. They had pretty convincing effort on Friday and showed some good perseverance on Saturday.

Saturday`s win was something the Vees rarely done this season and that`s win when trailing after two periods; just their fourth when doing so. They didn`t get frustrated and deviate from the game plan but they stuck to their guns and were rewarded with three goals in the third. During the playoffs, how you win isn`t as important as just winning period. No one reflects on your record, really who cares what it looks like, as long as you win one more game than your opponent. Quick, tell me what the Vees record was in the playoffs last year? That’s my point, the Vees came away with two wins on the weekend and that’s the most important thing. No, coaches don’t want their players to go and develop bad habits that can come back to bite you, but a win, is a win and that’s all that matters.

The one critique I would have, and it isn’t much of one, is the Vees still are missing on some fairly good scoring chances. Again, I’m pulling hairs when they score eight goals in two games and only allow four. But there were times on Saturday, in the second period especially when the Vees had some great opportunities to tie the game. Fortunately the Vees did have that third period rally, but if Salmon Arm did hang on to win, I would be writing about how they needed to execute. Something they have in the back of their minds I’m sure heading into game three.

Special teams will need to keep up the pace the Vees had in the first two games, with two power-play goals and only one against. Yes, the ‘Backs did have a short-handed goal in game one but it didn’t mean squat. Coaches and players will tell you the goal of the power-play is to average onegoal a game. The Vees have so far done just that, going 1-4 in both games on the weekend. Twenty-five percent is a great number to be at this early in the post-season. That pace in the regular season would have had the Vees atop the BCHL.

The penalty-kill has been very good, with just one goal-against on six Salmon Arm power-plays. The ‘Backs did score a key power-play goal in the second, but the Vees had a couple big kills in the third, especially late when they were nursing a one-goal lead. For the most part, the Vees have limited the ‘Backs opportunities by blocking a big chunk of shots and not allowing them to set up in the offensive zone.

What to Watch For:

  • Hey, here I go talking about the start again. The Vees expect the ‘Backs to be have a good push of the start, down by two in the series and looking to use the home-ice to make some noise early. Playoffs are all about momentum and that’s what the ‘Backs will try to get in the opening ten-minutes. The Vees are the road team, they don’t need about putting on an entertaining product. Basically the Vees have to be ready to push back and a goal would be ideal but keeping Salmon Arm off the scoreboard would be just as good. The Vees just don’t want to duplicate the start they had in Vernon two weeks ago when they spotted the home team a 2-0 lead in first eight minutes. Keeping it simple will be important and getting everyone involved as well. The Vees don’t want to run into penalty-trouble, forced to use their special teams personnel early and shortening the bench. If all four lines and three D-pairings can seem some significant ice in the first that will bode well for the Vees when the game creeps into the second and third period or even longer.
  • No easy plays. The Vees can’t make it easy on their opponents, and let them starting feeling good about themselves. If Salmon Arm is going to have any success their going to have to earn it; that’s the mentality the Vees need. The Vees can’t go about making mental mistakes and coughing up chances left, right and centre. That’s exactly what hurt them in Vernon, when the first two goals were self-inflicted. It’s not just about being dialed-in physically but mentally as well. The physical tone they established in the first two games needs to continue as the can’t afford to give Shane Hanna, Brayden Sherbinin and Mitch Ferguson time and space to start the rush. The Vees need to continue to bump and grind the ‘Backs in the attacking zone; make them feel you on every shift. When you get into trouble is when your opponent starts to feel your “easy” to play against.
  • Chest match. The ‘Backs will have the last change and with that, a chance to get their top-line away from the Vees checkers. We saw both the trench line (Amantea, Blanleil and DePourcq) and the Vees top-line go against Salmon Arm’s top trio. The Vees have done a great job in shutting down Steven Iacobellis, Alex Gillies and Brandon Mistal, but Salmon Arm will now have the chance to see who the Vees put out on the ice first and make adjustments accordingly. I’m not saying that the ‘Backs will want to “hide” this line but they simply want to give them the best advantage possible. It’s something to follow throughout the game. Do the Vees continue with that matchup? That can lead to shorter shifts for some and more ice-time for others. Regardless the Vees know the ‘Backs top three will have to be kept quiet someway, somehow.

Who to Watch For:

Chad Katunar: The Vees number one is 2-0 and has some very solid numbers in the first two games. But I feel in both games there has been goals against he simply needs to stop. Katunar is a top ‘tender in this league and even he will admit that two of the four goals against so far, are ones he usually stops. Just writing this shows how highly regarded of a goaltender Katunar is and what type of level we are used to see him playing at.

On the road, things can change a bit, as you usually expect a bigger push from the home team and that means Katunar’s workload might be increased somewhat tonight and tomorrow. He had a terrific game the last time the Vees were in Salmon Arm, even though the Vees came up short in double-overtime. Katunar admits he likes the big stage and seems to play better when the pressure is kicked up a few notches higher. Like I said above, no easy ones for the ‘Backs tonight that can give them any momentum. A “soft” goal or one against at a critical time can be a blow to any team, especially the road team. Katunar might be called upon to come up with a clutch save in both games in Salmon Arm. Katunar did have a strong finish to game two, especially with that pad save off Shane Hanna late.

FT_TheOtherGuys-shdwV2 Are the Silverbacks in a “must win” situation? I would say yes. They were good on Saturday, good enough to pull out a win but seemed to run out of gas in the third. Well, at the start of the third they couldn’t match or stop the Vees momentum and were burned for three goals. Now, they had a good push at the end of the game, especially inside the final five-minutes but couldn’t muster much with the extra-attacker.

They’re now at home,  and will try to use the crowd and the atmosphere to their advantage but that might easier said than done. As I said earlier, the ‘Backs have had their struggles on home ice and actually were better on the road this season. It’s puzzling to see a team that much better on the road compared to playing at home. Reasons? Could be anything, the distraction of other things outside of hockey that takes away your time. When you’re on the road, it’s the bus, thinking about hockey, than you’re at the rink, getting ready for hockey. Very little distractions while on the road. Or maybe the ‘Backs tried to do too much, tried to put on a show for their fans, when that happens, mistakes happen. Whatever ailed them in the regular season, will  need to be corrected tonight.

I haven’t seen a line-up, so I don’t know who the ‘Backs will start in net but my money, if I were to wager a guess, would be on Adam Clark. Saturday was a situation the ‘Backs could take a gamble. If Angus Redmond won his start, then great you go the split and he gets a shot in game three. A loss, it gives you a reason to go back to your number one. Hey, Scott Robinson said in the pre-game show before game two that “Clark is our number one and everyone knows that.” So there is no Luongo-Schneider issues here. Maybe Clark needed the mental break and sometimes players benefit from sitting and watching. Again, this is my guess but look for Clark to start tonight.

What to Watch For:

  • Can the top-line line break loose?  No points from the trio of Steven Iacobellis, Alex Gillies and Brandon Mistal. The line was better on Saturday at creating scoring chances but still couldn’t cash in. Game two was a step in the right direction but they will need to break through tonight if the ‘Backs are going ti win game three.
  • Home Cooking? Can the ‘Backs use home-ice to their advantage? Like I have spelled out, they have had their struggles all season at the “Cable Box.” Will their first home playoff game in nearly two years be the shot in the arm this team needs to get back into this series?
  • Offensive Punch? You need to score to win games and the ‘Backs will need to find a way to generate more offense. They have been held to two goals or less in all but one of the nine meetings thus far with the Vees; includes two shutouts. One of their two wins was when they scored three goals and the other was when they held the Vees to just one. More shots, more pressure and maybe more goals.

Who to Watch For

Brayden Sherbinin: He was our player to watch on Saturday but again deserves the recognition tonight. He has been arguably the most dangerous player in this series for the ‘Backs. He is a gifted skater, who can seem to find another gear many don’t have in a split second. He also has great vision, an underrated shot and a great compete level.

The Vees have done a good job at keeping Shane Hanna relatively quiet but Sherbinin has had his share of dangerous looking jaunts into the Vees zone. If the Vees can keep him contained somewhat they will be in good shape. Force others, those who aren’t that entirely comfortable being a puck carrier, to do the heavy lifting.

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About frodgers

Director of Broadcasting & Media Relations for the Penticton Vees
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