The Vees were frustrated after last weeks loss to Nanaimo and they’ll be frustrated after tonight’s too.
The Vees looked great, they peppered Jayson Argue with 45 shots, held the Clippers to just 16 shots and to single digit shots in each of the three periods. They played hard, had their legs moving and looked pretty sound.
No, I’m not talking about win.
Hockey is a funny game at times. Arguably, tonight was a more complete effort than last night’s 6-3 win in West Kelowna. The coaching staff didn’t like home many “big plays” they gave up to the Tribe last night and thought the team needed to hang onto pucks more; eat up more time in the offensive end. Well tonight they didn’t give up any “big plays” and you could have timed their offensive zone time not with a watch but rather a calendar.
An odd start, as the Clippers opened the scoring by indirectly putting the puck on goal; it wasn’t even a shot at the net. Brendan Taylor threw the puck out front from behind the left goal-line. His centering feed, intended for Devin Brosseau, actually hit Paul Stoykewych’s skate and slid in. Talk about unlucky. It got a bit weirder after that, as the Vees almost made a great defensively play that resulted in another goal against. On a Clippers power-play, Sheldon Rempal tried to pick out Anthony Sabitsky on the weak side, with a pass through the middle of the zone. Brad McClure lunged out to stop the pass but the puck, rather than deflect away from the intended target, skidded right to Sabitsky who leaned into a one-timer of sorts. The redirection was like a perfect pass for a one-timer; served on a silver platter. Not the most conventional way to manufacture a two-goal lead.
So you can’t blame the Vees if they felt a bit chaffed after those two goals. They were doing everything right, being responsible but yet saw a two-goal deficit hang over their heads.
But hey, hockey is a funny game.
Immediately following the Clippers second goal, Brett Beauvais crept in from the point but sizzled a shot high and over the goal. However, the rebound from that shot jumped out to Cody DePourcq at the far-post. DePourcq showed some great hands by shooting the puck with his stick between his legs. So the Clippers got a strange one in the first and the Vees got a bit of a lucky bounce; a wash.
Never one to champion fighting but Clint Filbrandt showed why it still has a place in the game. Late in the first, sensing his team needed a spark, Filbrandt dropped the flippers with Nanaimo’s Ryan Forbes. Both landed some pretty good shots, as they were feeding each other with a steady diet of right hands. Filbrandt buckled Forbes with a heavy right hand “on the button.” A veteran move that gave the Vees the shot they needed, as they went on to score a goal late in the period.
The second period was where the Vees really kicked it into high gear, as the play was predominantly in the Clippers end; like we went back to playing half rink in Timbit hockey. OK, a bit embellished but most of the period was played inside the Nanaimo blue-line, like there wasn’t many skate marks in the Vees end. The Vees had a few great looks on a power-play that was pretty much spent in the Clippers zone. But it was at even strength where they might have had the two best chances. Matt Serratore found himself alone in front but was robbed by Jayson Argue who jetted out the right pad. Serratore rushed to the rebound at the post, but Argue made an even better save with his blocker arm. Argue was doubled-over awkwardly when he made the rebound save and appeared to hurt himself.
It was 15 shots in the first, 10 more in the second but the Vees only had one goal to show for their efforts and were still down one going into the third.
Early in the third, Riley Alferd found a crack in Argue’s armor and got a
monkey Gorilla of his back all at the same time (that’s multi-tasking). Alferd jumped all over a rebound in the slot and his back-hand attempt found the back of the net. No post. No miss. Just net. FINALLY. Alferd, who had been so close in the last two weeks, scored his first goal as a Vee and it couldn’t come at a better time.
But the Clippers had an answer a handful of minutes later on a power-play and they didn’t waste time. Right off the face-off in the Vees end, the puck was worked back to Scott Prier and the Clippers Captained unloaded a bomb from the point. His shot screamed past the glove of Oliver Mantha to stake the boatmen out to a 3-2 lead. The power-play just took five seconds to produce a goal.
After that Prier goal, Brad McClure must have thought to himself, “Whatever you can do, I can do better.” The Vees Captain brought his team back on level terms, for the second time in the period, when he picked the corner on a Vees power-play with six minutes left. The trademark McClure drag and shoot from the left-circle. Money. The power-play looked a lot better than what the boxscore shows (1-5). It was dangerous all night, especially in that second period; McClure’s tally was about perseverance for the man-advantage. They kept at it and were rewarded-eventually.
But. BUT. The Clips had an answer. Again.
The feeling was this game was headed into OT after McClure tied the game and got the 2,500 fans on their feet. But the game-winner was scored on what looked like an innocent rush down the wing. Korey Morgan, who was relatively quiet all night, squeezed a wrist-shot through Olivier Mantha from the bottom of the right-circle. A shot he usually stops 9 times out of 10; tonight was that ‘1.’ A deflating goal after the Vees battled back twice to put themselves in a position to win. But no points and an opportunity missed with a pair of divisional rivals idle.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, it’s hard to put a finger on this game. The Vees did a lot of good things and not just in spurts but for long stretches. At first the passing maybe wasn’t up to snuff but that quickly changed in the second when they started to get their transition game going. Maybe it was there finish? They did have 45 shots but did score three goals. Coming into tonight’s game, the Vees were 12-1-0-0 when they scored three or more goals. So they hit that magic number but didn’t get the intended result. I’ll use this again, but if the Vees play like that over a ten game stretch, they will win nine games out of ten.
Tonight was that ‘1.’