1-3) Michael Santaguida: No need to hand out the stars to anyone else on this night. A performance that will have fans buzzing for quite some time, as Santaguida stopped 50, yes 5-0 shots for his fourth shutout of the playoffs and 12th win in 13 games.
The Vees peppered the Eagles goalie with 21 shots in the third period when they were trying to claw back from a 2-0 deficit, but Santaguida was there time and again. The Eagles goaltender did get a lot of help from his defense, and he talks about that in his post-game chat with the Eagles voice Brendan Batchelor (follow the link above). There were numerous occasions were the Vees had chances in and round the crease, but never could get the shot they wanted. Credit the Eagles defense as they did a good job in tying up sticks, blocking shots and playing goalie on occasion.
Santaguida despite the help was still spectacular in his own right, and made at least a half of dozen eye-popping saves. In the playoffs, you hear the talk about goalies “stealing” games for their team and tonight was one of those occasions. The Eagles are no doubt ecstatic with the 2-0 series lead but probably know they can’t afford to have Game Two repeat itself later in the series. Back to Santaguida, one of his best saves came in the third period, when he reached back on the goal-line with the paddle of his goalie stick, denying Brad McClure’s rebound tap-in.
The Vees also had some great looks in the first and second period. In the opening frame Ryan Gropp had a couple of great chances from the slot but was turned away and Cody DePourcq, Brock Balson and Brad McClure had chances as well. In the second the Vees top-line had a flurry of pressure around the Eagles goal but Santaguida made nice saves of Jedd Soleway and Louie Nanne; Wade Murphy had his shot blocked. Lots of garbage around the Eagles net tonight but the Vees just couldn’t capitalize. Just like last night’s story, the Vees couldn’t get pucks to settle down or just couldn’t get to them when they needed to. A frustrating stretch of two games for the Vees offense as the effort was there, just not the results.
The Eagles will say they kept a lot of the shots to the outside and that may be true to a certain extent but the Vees did have a lot of great looks, either in the blue paint or in prime scoring areas. Santaguida, despite his size, always seems to play big and take away a lot of net. He now has four shutouts in the playoffs, doubling his regular season output. Also through two games he’s stopped 81 of 83 shots for a sparkling .976 save-percentage. He was the best player for the Eagles and arguably in this hockey game, no doubt the first star of the night and why not the second and third while were at it.
An interesting story, as the Eagles didn’t start the season with Santaguida, as he joined the team three weeks into the season after he couldn’t find a spot in the USHL due to his age and import restrictions I bet a few coaches down south are kicking themselves now.
- The Vees will welcome Sunday’s off day,as they have a few players who could use the rest. I can’t fault the Vees for their sheer determination and effort on the weekend. They battled their butts off but just couldn’t get into a groove offensively; they’re due and maybe they breakout on Monday.
- Cliche, but as they saying goes, you’re never in trouble until you lose on home ice. The Vees haven’t yet in these playoffs, a perfect 5-0 and will go against a team that’s perfect on the road (5-0)
- The Vees need to start pushing back in the special teams department. Now four games without a power-play goal and Surrey has three in two games; all on five-on-three power-plays. The Vees shot themselves in the foot early with two penalties in short succession. They need to stay out of the box and play this series five-on-five, as they have been the better team when doing so.
- Tonight is just the second time all season the Vees were shutout, as the only other goose-egg came back on February 8th at home to Merritt (1-0).
- I thought Sean Flanagan had his best game in the playoffs. He was really moving out there, looked confident with the puck and was making things happen.
- The Vees first two lines had a better effort tonight and created a lot of chances, so that’s encouraging. If those players were stone cold, then red flags would start to shoot up.