|September 14th||Penticton Vees||West Kelowna Warriors||4-3 (OT) Vees||Regular Season|
|September 22nd||Penticton Vees||West Kelowna Warriors||5-3 Vees||Regular Season|
|October 23rd||Penticton Vees||West Kelowna Warriors||4-3 (OT) Vees||Regular Season|
|October 26th||West Kelowna Warriors||Penticton Vees||4-1 Vees||Regular Season|
|December 28th||West Kelowna Warriors||Penticton Vees||5-2 Warriors||Regular Season|
|December 29th||Penticton Vees||West Kelowna Warriors||4-2 Vees||Regular Season|
|January 26th||West Kelowna Warriors||Penticton Vees||2-1 Vees||Regular Season|
|March 29th||West Kelowna Warriors||Penticton Vees||6-4 Vees||Interior Final|
|March 30th||West Kelowna Warriors||Penticton Vees||
|April 1st||Penticton Vees||West Kelowna Warriors||
Royal LePage Place
|April 2nd||Penticton Vees||West Kelowna Warriors||
Royal LePage Place
|April 4th||West Kelowna Warriors||Penticton Vees||
|April 5th||Penticton Vees||West Kelowna Warriors||
Royal LePage Place
|April 7th||West Kelowna Warriors||Penticton Vees||
PP AT HOME: 3/14 (21.43 %) 5th
PP OVERALL: 7/28 (25.00 %) 1st
PK AT HOME: 8/9 (88.89 %) 6th
PK OVERALL: 17/18 (94.44 %) 1st
PP ON ROAD: 1/12 (8.33 %) 11th
PP OVERALL: 6/33 (18.18 %) 6th
PK ON ROAD: 14/19 (73.68 %) 10th
PK OVERALL: 23/29 (79.31 %) 8th
Advantage Vees. Well for now anyway. The Vees held court on home-ice on Friday with a 6-4 win in the Interior Conference Final opener. It was their fifth straight win and now are a perfect 3-0 at the SOEC in the playoffs.
That was yesterday and this is today, as the Vees know a loss tonight and they lose home-ice advantage going back to West Kelowna for games three and four. Another “swing” game as this series can have two completely different looks depending on tonight’s outcome. A Vees win and they’re in the driver’s seat up 2-0 but a Warriors win and it’s a split with the series shifting back up highway 97.
Some argue the Vees won the game last night in the second period and that’s a there’s a strong case for that argument. But I think the game turned before that, late in the first period when Louie Nanne tied the game. The Vees were down by one with just a minute and change left in the period. Being tied, after being down 2-0 was a huge boost for this team; a small victory. If the Warriors carried a lead into the break, game one might have had a different look to it.
The Vees know their start will have to be better tonight, as coming back once from a two-goal hole was hard enough once and trying to come from behind again tonight might be pushing it.
Nanne 2-6-8 de Haas 2-2-4 Stecher 0-3-3
Mellor 2-5-7 Gropp 2-1-3 Blanleil 1-1-2
Murphy 3-2-5 Balson 1-2-3 Sinz 0-2-2
Soleway 3-2-5 Flanagan 1-2-3
McClure 2-3-5 Nitsche 0-3-3
Siemer 3-1-4 Rebry 0-3-3
Chad Katunar: 5 GP 5-0-0 2.00 GAA .922 SV% 0 SO
A wins a win but the Vees will be focusing on a better start. OK, I’ve beat the point to death already and the team knows they can’t be caught on their heels again. However, when talking with a few players this morning, they admitted the layoff was a bit of a factor and maybe the crowd as well; some nerves early. They got through it, clawed back and eventually won the game; chalk it up to a learning experience.
Their “start” actually was pretty good, in their first handful of shifts they had some good jump and created a couple of chances in the Warriors end. But a pair of defensive miscues and it was 2-0 for the visitors in a blink of an eye. This team has been funny that way all season, as their starts have been up and down. One thing I do have to again credit them with is their resiliency.
Resiliency: The power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
That was the Vees in a nutshell. They composed themselves, didn’t get side-tracked and chipped away at the early deficit. However, it’s a taxing process to go through and the Vees can’t expect to have the same success again if they go down that path; put yourself in the best situation possible.
I was impressed with Wade Murphy’s game on Friday, as he could have been categorized as the “lead by example” type. His first period goal got the ball rolling for the Vees and he scored another big one early in the second, that again spurred their attack. Murphy was also physical again on the fore-check along with Jedd Soleway and Louie Nanne, as they caused some issues with the Warriors breakout in the middle period. Well it wasn’t just their line that was good on the fore-check but they set the “tone.” here I go using that word, and it seemed like the other lines fed off their play.
Penalty-kill looked strong, as they snuffed out the Warriors man-advantage three times and didn’t really give much in the way of “grade A” scoring chances. It starts with the amount of shots they continue to block, boxing out in front of their goal and sealing off shooting lanes. The Warriors did have some good puck movement and when they did get a shot through, Chad Katunar was there to make a key save. The Vees will need to the same effort tonight, as the Warriors will earn their share of power-plays; good teams just do. It’s not about NOT taking penalties but rather being smart about it. Make the Warriors earn their chances and not get caught taking “cheapies.”
What to Watch For
- The start, I’ve talked about it enough in the last 16 hours; it just needs to be better
- Containing the Warriors speedsters. Marcus Basara and Max French can flat-out fly and showed flashes of that on Friday. The Vees will need to be ready for the fleet-footed Warriors trying to push wide and create off the rush. It’s not necessarily about being physical and getting body contact, but rather moving your feet, being in good position and using angles to your advantage.Use your body position to guide or angle the attacking forwards away from the net.
- The power-play. It did score a goal and that’s usually what coaches will ask for; a goal per-game on average. But with the Warriors running into penalty trouble in the third, the Vees had a chance to put the game away with a goal or two. I know they were being more cautious about not giving up a chance the other way but I would like to see a more aggressive approach. When this team shows their killer instinct they’re hard to beat.
Who to Watch For
Sam Mellor: He had two assists last night and his line with Ryan Gropp and Brock Balson had some good looks at the net. He seems to be close to busting out again and really has elevated his play since the start of the playoffs. He was solid at quarterbacking the power-play, was industrious on the fore-check and never stopped moving his feet; playing like a vet. Keep tabs on eleven tonight, as I think he is due for another big game.
Looks like, as of now anyways, the Vees will go with the same line-up as Friday. Nic Renyard is now healthy and will back-up Chad Katunar. Mike Rebry is penciled in the line-up so the there isn’t any changes up front for now. If something does change I will send out the message on Twitter.
Warriors Playoff Scoring
French 6-3-9 Anholt 2-3-5 Pope 1-1-2
Basara 3-5-8 Hochhausen 0-5-5 Bilous 0-2-2
Gayle 4-3-7 Plant 0-5-5 Lashuk 0-2-2
Firkus 4-2-6 Clark 2-1-3
Monk 2-4-6 Berry 0-3-3
Lloyd 0-6-6 Simmonds 2-0-2
Tyler Briggs: 6 GP 4-2-0 2.93 GAA .921 SV% 0 SO
The Warriors won’t be panicking just yet, as a split would be exactly what they would want. I would say they would have been satisfied with a 1-1 series tie heading home, before the series started and a win tonight erases any bad memories of Friday’s opener. Reading the Warriors perspective, they point out the second period as their downfall and that’s no surprise. It seemed they had some issues in their own end and were victimized by some turnovers and gaps in coverage.
There are still some positives to look at , one being their start obviously as it can’t get much better than that. Second, their third period push was something they can build off going into game two. Max French, despite taking a couple of penalties was in my opinion their best player. The Captain had his legs going right from the start and really led by example. He’s a fiery leader and sometimes his emotions can get the better of him, but in his case, with what he brings to the table, you take the good with the “bad.”
Tyler Briggs did struggle by his standards and there were a couple of goals in the second period he probably would have liked back. But despite all of this, he did keep his team within striking distance in the third and that’s all you can ask for in that situation. He was so good in the first round and goalies, all of them, go through their ups and downs. He will be highly motivated to quickly put last night’s loss behind him.
Looks to be the same line-up as Friday for the Warriors, as they will go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen; Dustin Cave again will rotate in with the six others on the blue-line.