1) Brad McClure: The forward was arguably the Vees best in Game Three. Two first period goals, one on the power-play and the other short-handed. McClure was driving the bus so to speak in that opening period, one that was back-and-forth from start to finish.
Playoff performers step up and come up big in clutch situations and McClure did just that on Monday. He staked the Vees out to two separate leads and was doing everything he could to lead by example. His first goal was an absolute snipe over the glove of Michael Santaguida, that ended the Vees score-less skid at 101:17. The Eagles answered back to tie the game at one’s but McClure himself came right back with a short-handed goal’ as nice or nicer than his first.
On the PK, the speedy forward tracked down the puck in the neutral zone, skated away from his mark and then toe-dragged the puck around the diving defenseman who was trying to breakup the chance. McClure not only deke around the prone obstacle but then wired a hard shot short-side glove-high. Back tracking for a moment, I watched this goal several times at a very slow speed and it was every bit impressive. McClure beats one forward to a puck at the blue-line but still has the wherewithal to cut to the inside on a diving defender. Then to top it off he picks his spot on the near-side, going over the glove. This, I may remind you was all done at top speed and with one less forward on the ice then the Eagles had.
Special teams were and is such a story-line in this series and the Vees this time came out on the right side of the battle and thanks in large part to the first period heroics of McClure. He now leads the team in goal-scoring with seven and is tied on points. McClure also leads the team in scoring at home this post-season with five goals and eight points.
Big game players, make big plays and at key times and McClure had two of them-in one period.
2) The “Trench Line:” The trio of Travis Blanleil, Cody DePourcq and Cam Amantea were very sound in the win Monday. They usually get the “plum” assignment of taking on the oppositions best line or one of their top two at the very least. They were seeing some ice time against the Tambellini-Mulcahy-Cameron group on Monday and rose to the occasion.
Take away the winning goal and their night was still up there when talking about Game Three. They had some great shifts against the Surrey’s best gunners and more importantly ate up key minutes in the offensive zone, where otherwise would be spent in their zone; the alternative didn’t sit well with them.
They’re so good at working the puck below the circles, utilizing their speed and small stature to slip checks and evade defenders. This a line that is trusted as the Vees go-to line when the team needs a kick in the butt after a quiet moment in the game or rough sequence. They always bring it and seem to really embrace the “trench worker” moniker, and they should, because they coined the phrase. But in all seriousness, they did really make large strides in the offensive zone and always seemed to establish an presence.
Going back to the game-winning goal, Blanleil showed some terrific hands,as he came off the left-wing and threw a saucers pass to the other side and on the tape of DePourcq’s stick. From there the crowd went nuts as the local product scored the game-winner. This line always provides energy, a spark to the rest of the team and that can lead to momentum changing shifts. The coaching staff doesn’t hesitate to put this line out after a goal, on either side to provide a shot in the arm.
The three have a great ability to cycle the puck continuously and force the opposition to fall into penalty trouble as they start to tire.
3) Home Cooking: The Vees ran their winning streak on home ice to six games and they haven’t lost a playoff game at the SOEC in quite some time. This time of year is about using any leverage you can and the Vees have plenty at home. They’re a good road team but they’re something about this team playing at home.They needed a big performance in front of a their fans and they sure put on a show Monday.
Scoring first was huge as they’re now 7-1 in the playoffs when doing so and the Vees really fed off the crowd tonight. They needed that type of support and most importantly they fed of it.
Pack the SOEC on Tuesday