The Vees are looking to salvage a weekend split with the West Kelowna Warriors tonight at Royal LePage Place. The Tribe won the first half of the home-and-home set 3-1 last night at the SOEC, powered by a three-goal second period.
The loss snapped the Vees season-high eight game winning streak and was their first loss at home in five games. Brad McClure got things started off on the right foot with a blast from the slot on a Vees two-man advantage midway through the first. The Vees however, despite a couple of quality chances, couldn’t build on the lead.
West Kelowna ratcheted up the pressure in the second, out shooting the Vees 13-5 and out working them for the most part. The Tribe cashed-in on three different plays at the Vees net, as Carl Hesler led the way with two second period goals. All three goals were the result of the Vees not being able to clear pucks or their man from in front of their own net. Adam Osczevski scored the other Warriors goal in the second and Andy Desautels made 19 stops for his first win against the Vees this season; it was the Warriors first win against Penticton this season.
The scene now shifts to West Kelowna and Royal LePage Place, as both teams wrap-up their pre-Christmas schedule tonight. The Vees don’t play again until January 3rd in Merritt, whereas the Warriors pay a visit to Trail on December 30th. After tonight, these two meet again on January 15th back at the SOEC and then once more at RLP on February 18th.
- Touched on it in my post-game story but the Vees need to be a whole lot harder to play against. They just couldn’t get it going for whatever reason last night and didn’t make it hard enough on the Warriors in the offensive zone. The Vees need to be more physical around their net and clear away traffic. West Kelowna had it easy in the second period last night, as they were allowed to come inside the Vees zone with pace and had too many opportunities to drive the goal.
- Offensively speaking, the Vees too need to be better. Take a page out of West-K’s playbook from last night. Too perimeter were the Vees in the loss last night, as I didn’t see them try to penetrate the middle of the ice enough. It isn’t easy to get to the net and if it was, this game wouldn’t be any fun. The Vees need to utilize their speed more, drive wide, turn the Warriors D and get to the blue paint. Too many shots, all 20 of them, came from the outside and not in Grade ‘A’ areas. This team has had a lot of success in attacking the net, getting lots of rubber on net and in prime scoring areas. I know the saying is “quality, not quantity” but the Vees need to focus on volume tonight. Just 11 shots in the last two periods were steered towards Andy Desautels. More rubber and bodies going to the West-K net is in order.
- Puck management needs to be cleaned up as well. The Vees were uncharacteristically sloppy with the biscuit last night. 30 turnovers were committed by the forwards and another 21 by the D-core last night. Their breakouts never really got going and a lot of their play was bogged down in the neutral zone with poor puck management. This team is usually very good with the puck and a lot of their success comes from their transition game; that never got going. Puck retrieval was another issue, as the Vees lost too many races for the puck and or battles in the offensive end. When this team is rolling, it’s when their putting pucks in spots where they can go get them. It ain’t rocket science with this team. Their success comes from using their speed, making smart plays with the puck and eating up minutes in the offensive end, by establish a presence down-low.
- Only one line-up change for the Vees, as Olivier Mantha will get the nod in-goal after Hunter Miska got the start last night. Mantha stopped all six shots he faced in the third period last night in a relief effort. He’s won his last four starts and is 1-0 this season against the Tribe; 5-1-0 against the Interior.
- A silver lining in the loss, was Brad McClure extending his point streak to four games. However, he would be the first one to tell you he would have traded it in for two points. McClure has four goals and eight points in his last four and points in 10 of his last 11 games. He’s one point back of Salmon Arm’s Landon Smith (57 points), for top spot in the BCHL scoring race; Smith had two goals last night in a loss to Merritt.
- Steen Cooper had his three game point streak come to an end last night and his three game goal-scoring streak. Cooper, Dalpe and McClure were far too quiet last night but will be itching to bounce back.
- Despite the loss, the Vees special teams continues to be a bright spot. The power-play has scored in each of the Vees last four games and their penalty-kill is a perfect 17-17 against West Kelowna this season; the five-on-five play needs to be better.
- With his assist Friday, Brett Beauvais is up to eight points in four games against the Warriors this season; that’s tops between both teams in the season series. McClure has four goals and seven points and Anthony Conti and Max Coatta each have three.
- RLP hasn’t been an intimidating place in recent years for the Vees. They’ve won 11, yes 11 in a row at RLP in the regular season, dating back four seasons. The last time the Tribe won on home-ice in the regular season against Penticton, was on November 26th, 2010 (5-1). Including the playoffs, the Vees have won 12 of their last 13 games in West Kelowna.
- The Warriors were playing with just 11 forwards last night and won despite the fact they got zero points from David Pope, Seb Lloyd, Jason Cotton and Matt Anholt. Carl Hesler was great, bagging two but it was the younger guys stepping up. Adam Osczevski, Liam Blackburn and Brett Mennear were fantastic in the win. I thought Blackburn and Osczevski were the Tribe’s two best forwards outside of Hesler. Blackburn especially, as he seemed to be always generating something when he was in the offensive zone.
- With his two goals Friday, Hesler has now taken over the team scoring lead against Penticton. In four games, the Texan has three goals and five points, two ahead of fellow Texan Jason Cotton.
- Andy Desautels is playing his best hockey as a Warrior. He’s 4-1-0 in his last five starts, with a 1.00 goals-against average and a sparkling .961 save-percentage; he’s only allowed five goals in his last five starts. He had been shaky at times against the Vees and though he wasn’t overly tested last night, he looked very confident in the Warriors crease.