*UPDATE* Brad McClure Post-Game Interview:
- The Vees needed to start to feel good about themselves again and tonight was a step in that direction. Yes, Trail is not an upper echelon team in the Interior but the Vees needed these two points. It wasn’t so much about who they were playing, rather how they were playing and it was a marked improvement over last weekend. They scored early and often, got the power-play going again, limited Trail’s chances (for the most part), played with speed and conviction. The coaching staff talks about paying attention to details, the finer points that need to be executed if you’re going to have success. Well, the Vees stuck to the details and found some success.
- Time to time, you see players that looked inspired, determined or some would say possessed. I wouldn’t go as far as possessed but Brad McClure found another gear on Wednesday. He finished with a game-high five points and could have had more. He had instant chemistry with new line-mates in Erik Benoit and Cody DePourcq. Benoit and him hooked up on a nice passing play to open the scoring. McClure was around the puck a lot tonight, made a lot of good reads, which turned into four assists. He had one “wow” moment in the third period, when he started the rush from behind his own net, carved his way through Smokies in the neutral zone, then danced through a defender before just missing out on a one-handed shovel play at the net. That play had everyone out of their seat and would have blown the lid off the SOEC if he had scored.
- McClure started the night eight points back of Salmon Arm’s Landon Smith for the BCHL scoring lead. At the end of the night he’s only three points back and the two go head-to-head on Friday. If McClure was better at baseball growing up, he would have had two goals tonight. On Erik Benoit’s second goal of the game, McClure took two swings at the bouncing puck, missing both times, before Benoit swatted it in. In all seriousness, nice to see the Captain lead by example tonight.
- Head Coach Fred Harbinson said before the game, a lot of the Vees issues going into tonight’s contest laid between the ears. The Vees were a guilty of being a bit too fragile recently, especially if something went sideways on them. Tonight they showed better mental toughness, especially in the second period. After Trail scored to make it 3-1, the Vees pushed back and eventually scored twice more before the period was out. Coach Harbinson didn’t like how his team responded in the second period in Salmon Arm Saturday, allowing three goals in six minutes, and as he put it pre-game “folding up, for probably the first time this year.” Tonight, instead of wilting and letting Trail right back into the game, the Vees scored two goals inside three minutes before the second intermission. That means something.
- Nice to see the power-play kick-in to high gear and at a critical time. The Vees were kicking themselves last Saturday, when they didn’t score on three consecutive power-plays in the first period, when they were nursing a 1-0 lead in Salmon Arm. Tonight, the Vees weren’t going to let themselves be wasteful. They scored on back-to-back power-plays late in the first to go up 3-0 before the break and they took off from there. Both power-play goals came after some good puck work, as they got Trail moving and found soft spots. The Vees made some adjustments to their two power-play units, including some personnel adjustments and it showed. Both Jarod Hilderman and Riley Alferd found their way on the two units and both were effective.
- Still a couple of mistakes the Vees have to weed out in their own zone. Two turnovers lead to two Trail goals; their first and second goals. In both instances the Vees shut themselves in the foot and Trail took advantage. Hey, it happens and the Vees know they can’t let those mistakes happen come Friday against Salmon Arm.
- All four lines had new looks to them and all four brought something to the table. Brad McClure, Erik Benoit and Cody DePourcq didn’t take very long to develop some chemistry, as the three combined for three goals and nine points in the win. Even the fourth unit got a goal tonight, as Matt Serratore followed up a rebound at the side of the net and banked one in.
- The Vees played with plenty of pace tonight, which is their bread and butter and need to do more of that come Friday and Saturday. They got up the ice in a hurry, stretched out Trail and kept putting pucks in areas the Smokies weren’t. The cycle game was better down low and the Vees were much better in the transition department. That transition game was made possible by the forwards, who kept reloading, coming back in their own zone, giving the defense options on the breakout. The transition game gets easier when the forwards are constantly coming back and afford the defense to make simply plays, and not be forced into long, “home run” type passes.
- Brad McClure was the best Vee on the ice and Scott Davidson was the best Smokie-again. It isn’t easy for Davidson, a player who’s playing out the string for a team in the BCHL’s basement. But he again showed up, worked hard from start to finish and bagged two goals. Davidson had a tough start to the season but ever since December, I’ve noticed a much different player. One who’s playing with passion again, using his size and making things happen on the ice. For the most part, he hasn’t had steady line-mates, though Jesse Knowler returned tonight and Bryan Basilico played on the other wing. But when its a revolving door on your line, it’s hard to foster chemistry. Davidson was a handful tonight and seems to have his game going in the right direction before he goes to Quinnipiac in the fall.