That was fun. A game that was hyped up and it didn’t disappoint, as the Vees and Grizz engaged in one of the more entertaining games this season. You don’t need lots of goals or a ton of chances to call it entertaining. Only 5 combined goals and 48 shots between the two teams. Five on five was tight, but if you enjoy well-played defensive hockey, this was the game for you.
OK, lets back-peddle a bit here. Big win; BIG. This was a game in hand the Vees were burning up on second place Vernon. They didn’t squander the opportunity and now are 7 points up on the Vipers. In what seems like overnight the Vees went from checking over there shoulder to having some breathing room; crazy what a week can do.
Back to the game and it was the Vees having the start they wanted. They BASICALLY score a power-play goal three minutes in. Brad McClure hammered a clapper from the left-circle and over a screened Nic Renyard. Renyard’s own D-man providing the moving screen in front.
It got better. The Grizz ran into some penalty trouble, when Kevin Massey tried to play dentist with Cam Amantea’s face. He got 5 and a game and the Grizz down to 5 D the rest of the way. Then Brandon Egli was tagged with an elbowing penalty, giving the Vees a lengthy five-on-three. Prime opportunity too blow the game wide open. But the Grizz blocked quite a few shots and the Vees were bogged down by a few mental and physical gaffs.
5 minute power-plays aren’t gimmes. I think it can be tough to balance the fact you want to be patient but you also want to show some urgency. I would like to know the success rates for teams on 5 minute power-plays; numbers may agree with me.
So they can’t build off of the McClure goal and you just knew the Grizz were going to get their chances. They did. They made the most of it. The Vees, after 9 minutes of power-play time, were thumbed for 2 penalties and it’s a Vic 5-on-3. They scored quickly, as GF21 (way easier to type) hammered a one-timer from the circle. 1-1. A rare moment during this run where the Vees had a special teams let down.
Things were emotional, as tonight had a game 6-7 of a playoff series feel to it. Lots of action after whistles and lots of penalties: 13 penalty minutes handed in the 1st.
The one instance where the Vees were stuck in their own zone for a length of time, is when the Grizz took their only lead. The Fitzgerald brothers were doing Fitzgerald things, the Vees couldn’t clear and the puck ended up in their net. Chris Albertini, doing his best Cooper Rush impression, hammered a point-shot through a crowd and past Olivier Mantha. The only tough shift I can recall the Vees having in their own zone.
I briefly thought that goal could deflate the Vees. Last game of a LONG weekend and now they’re trailing. That thought was just a fleeting moment. As they’ve shown so many times before, this team knows how to push back. They kept at it, drew ANOTHER penalty and got back level.
Funny how the power-play has been scoring some really nice goals lately but the tying goal was the result of a missed shot and subsequent jam play in the crease. Steen Cooper, who was around the net ALL game but couldn’t find the puck, got at this chance on a nice play by Anthony Conti to get the puck across to him. After today it’s 10 points in 7 games for Cooper.
Game-winner comes from ANOTHER Vees power-play. Why? Grizz played a shorter bench; tired legs. They only had 5 D from the seven-minute mark of the 1st onward and their 4th line wasn’t used regularly. Brett Beauvais made a great play on the goal. After some good puck work up top, Beauvais quickly snapped a shot up high through a crowd. When the puck left his stick you had a good feeling.
After their power-play struggled in the 1st, the Vees buckled down when it mattered the most. They tie the game and manufacture the game-winner with the PP; clutch.
-Vees seemed to have the better endurance in this one. They didn’t let up, pushed a taxed D-core and grinded out 2 points.
– Patrick Sexton’s hit on Jesse Schwartz was huge BUT clean. Seemed to give the Vees a shot in the arm. Deflating for the Grizz to see one of their top forwards leave and not return. No, he didn’t fight when Albertini went after him because he’s near his limit. That play was the TSN turning point.
-Defense, defense, defense. The Vees held the Grizz to single-digit shots in each period; 23 total. After a shaky 1st in Chilliwack, The Vees D-core really did buckle down this weekend; just 3 goals-against in the last 6 periods.