1) Turnovers: This is what ailed the Vees the most on Friday. The first three Salmon Arm goals were direct results of defensive miscues; simply known as turnovers. The first goal against was the result of the defenseman going back into trouble with the puck. Instead of a reverse around the net or across to the weak-side, the puck was jammed back on the near wall. Max Becker read the play, blocked the clearing attempt and quickly put the puck over Olivier Mantha. The second goal was the fault of the forward on the near-wall. Similar to the first goal, but instead of pumping the puck off the boards, the Vees forward half heartily waved at the puck. Coughed up, put back to the point and quickly tipped in front of the net and in for a 2-1 ‘Backs lead. Because of two mistakes, the Vees went from trying to build off an early lead to trying to get back on even terms. The third goal was a play in which the Vees were caught up ice. Andrew Farny found space behind the Vees rear-guard as he flew off the bench and busted to the goal and almost scored. His shovel attempt hit the post which caused a bit of a scramble. The Vees were didn’t get to the puck first, Evan Anderson did and made no mistake. Three goals, three plays in which the Vees needed to do a better job defensively. Frustrating because for the most part the puck stayed in the Salmon End through the first two periods. Sitting on the bus and watching the video, I count about three sustained shifts inside the Vees zone through two periods. Three. There was plenty of chip and chase from the ‘Backs but they didn’t get established in the Vees zone until the third. Mistakes like the three listed can’t keep flaring up going forward; can’t be turning the brain off. This team is known for their decision-making and how smart they play the game. Need to get back to that Saturday.
2) Execution: Second biggest issue on Friday, was the lack of finish around the Silverbacks net. The Vees had all sorts of offensive zone time and were handily winning the territorial game. But when they put themselves into a scoring position they continually miss-fired or flat-out whiffed. The encouraging sign was the Vees were at least creating chances but that’s only going to get you so far. With the skill this team has, they can’t expect to win on the road by putting up one-two goals per game; asking a lot from your goalie every night. Salmon Arm is a highly skilled team as well but spent maybe half the time in the offensive zone the Vees did. But they didn’t need a whole lot of time as they were an opportunistic bunch; capitalized on mistakes. One too many times the Vees shot it wide or mishandled puck where they have scored from in previous games. Not one specific thing to say moving forward, as it’s hard to put into words on how to improve moving forward. There isn’t one set technique on how to coach finish, some argue you can’t; either you have it or you don’t. The Vees certainly have plenty of players that know how to put the puck in the back of net. This is where the clichés get thrown around, about bearing down on chances, rolling up the sleeves and so on. You hope with the chances created they will clean things up going forward and quickly.
3) Out Gunned: The ‘Backs top players were their top players on Friday. The ‘Backs top line of Evan Anderson, Alex Gillies and Landon Smith each had a goal and combined for seven points; Anderson and Gillies each had three points. Pre-game, Head Coach Fred Harbinson said in order to have success tonight, the Vees needed to keep those three quiet. This will sound odd but for the most part they did, even though they had seven points. It wasn’t like Salmon Arm’s top line was dominating shift after shift but they had their moments and when that happened they were successful. Anderson and one of Gillies two goals were net results of turnovers. Smith tallied on the power-play and was the beneficiary of a slick pass from Gillies. The Vees top line of Brad McClure, Ben Dalpe and AP Tyson Jost had their own chances but couldn’t cash in. There was a shift or two where Ryan Gropp joined the top line but for the most part it was Dalpe, Jost and McClure. Can’t start demanding a lot from a 15 year-old AP but Jost was solid and McClure and Dalpe were trying; you could see it. Chalk it up to one of those nights where it wasn’t going to happen for those two. But if they’re not feeling it someone has to step to the forefront and fill that void. Problem tonight was too many of the Vees were suffering from the same thing.