- Alright, show of hands, In September, if I said the Vees would have a 24-9-1-3 record at the Christmas break, how many would have taken that? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Despite being swept by the Warriors this weekend (never gets easy to type), the Vees are STILL atop of the Interior Division and STILL five points ahead of the Vernon Vipers; life`s still pretty good.
- Look, the coaches and players are not happy about how the weekend went and this will chew at them for a bit no question. But this team did win eight of their last 10 games ahead of the Christmas break and last I checked, an .800 winning percentage is pretty darn good. Nothing is handed out in December, except socks, underwear and bad sweaters from your in-laws. Big picture, the Vees have made a big push over the last three and a half weeks and have earned their position in the standings.
- So what happened? Well, I think this team just ran out of juice. They had at minimum, three-game weeks since November 18th and played four games in five days last week. The team I think both physically and mentally was spent. That type of schedule takes a toll on the body and with the Christmas break on the horizon, I think it was the perfect storm. Players spoke ad nauseam about not looking past this weekend but it was definitely on their minds; its human nature.
- Friday was disappointing, both players and coaches will admit that. But Saturday was a rebound of sorts. First, it wasn’t a 4-0 game, let’s get that clear. The third goal and fourth goals against were not from the Warriors body of work. The third, was, well a stinker. A dump-in from center that was whiffed on by Olivier Mantha. The fourth goal an empty-net short-handed marker when the Vees were desperate to get something going late. Credit West Kelowna, they played a heck of game Saturday and were fantastic on the weekend. But the Vees made two mistakes that resulted in two goals against. Five-on-five, Saturday was a marked improvement from Friday. But in a tight defensive struggle, the Vees just couldn’t break through; those game just happen.
- Saturday marks the first time the Vees have been shutout since February 8th of last season, when the Cents’ blanked the Vees 1-0 at the SOEC. The Vees had their chances but for whatever reason they couldn’t get a break or bounce to go their way. They were getting those in the last three weeks but that all came to an abrupt end. The Warriors Andy Desautels was very good and he was full value in the shutout. But circling back, the Vees had a tough time getting into scoring areas and that might be the fatigue factor setting in.
- Credit the Warriors, who had the worst penalty-kill in the BCHL before Saturday’s game, for shutting out the league’s best power-play. Going into the weekend, the Vees power-play was rolling at 40 percent in their last three games. But this weekend they were just 1-8 in two games. The Warriors did a good job in taking two threats away in Brad McClure and Brett Beauvais. The Vees tried to make in-game adjustments but they didn’t seem to work. Will West Kelowna’s penalty-kill success against Penticton spread to other teams? I wouldn’t go that far and besides, the Vees will have plenty of time to make adjustments going into the new year. If you’re not constantly trying to get better than in your trouble. The Vees, despite all their success with the PP, never seem to be satisfied and that’s a good thing. They’ll make their adjustments and introduce a new wrinkle or two when they hit the ice after the Christmas break.
- Simply put, it’s time for a break for the players, coaches and staff. The players have earned their time off and have exceeded expectations, mine anyways, in the unofficial first half of the season (I know they’ve played more than half their games already).
Enjoy the break everybody and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.