- An emotional and hard-fought win for the Vees on Friday. It was an emotionally charged effort by the Vees, who came out with a noticeable “buzz.” They were the most physical I’ve seen them against Salmon Arm, as they were hitting everything in a white jersey early and often. You could tell the ‘Backs were feeling it early and maybe they were even taken back how physical the Vees were. Dare I say the Vees took a page out of the ‘Backs playbook? Before tonight, it was the ‘Backs who were the more physical of the two teams in the season series and that hard-nose style proved to be successful. Tonight the Vees seemed to be the more physical team, as they got their licks in. Chris Rygus had a big hit on Alex Jewell in the first that set the tone and Nic Pierog was a one-man wrecking crew early as well; he was more engaged tonight. That physical element was key on the fore-check where the Vees forced quite a few turnovers. More importantly the Vees were more physical in their own zone and that caused problems for Salmon Arm. The Vees made it tough for the ‘Backs to get to the “greasy” areas and when they were going there, the Vees made them pay the price (Alex Coulombe and Paul Stoykewych on Evan Anderson).
- The start was great and all but what stood out for me was the second period. Coming into tonight’s game, the ‘Backs had outscored the Vees 9-0 in the second period. 9-0. Tonight the Vees scored their first two goals of the second period and they were timely ones. Yes, Salmon Arm scored twice in the second too but just getting something in the second was big for the Vees and like I said, when they scored was at critical times. Landon Smith tied the game seven and a half minutes into the second but 55 seconds later, a shift later, the Vees went back ahead. The Vees had a good extended sequence around the Salmon Arm net, that resulted in Cody DePourcq banging in a rebound. Then a minute and a half after that, Travis Blanleil scores a nice goal off a three-on-two rush in the Salmon Arm end. Riley Alferd made a nice drop pass to Blanleil who quickly rifled a wrist-shot over Angus Redmond’s shoulder. So, right after Salmon Arm ties the game, the Vees storm back for two key goals and seconds apart. They didn’t allow Salmon Arm to gain any momentum off their goal and then turned the game back in their favour and quickly.
- How about the play of Riley Alferd lately? a no-brainer for the first star of the game. Alferd was effective at quarterbacking the second unit power-play and scored doing so (technically an even-strength goal), and made a great play on that Blanleil goal. Confidence is everything at this level and Alferd is the most confident I’ve seen him this season. A month ago does Alferd get involved on a three-on-two rush like that and then make that heads-up drop pass to Blanleil? Alferd is proving to be a versatile piece for the Vees,as he has had spot duty on the blue-line and whilst playing a regular shift at center. Arguably the two toughest positions on the ice and he’s excelling. Hopefully Alferd can keep elevating as the Vees near the playoffs.
- Defensively another tidy effort, as the Vees held the ‘Backs to single-digit shots in each of the three periods. Salmon Arm did score twice but only once at even-strength and that had some luck to it. Yes, there were a few hairy moments, like Hunter Miska’s puck-playing adventure in the second, but when it counted, the Vees kept the ‘Backs attack at bay. I just draw on the third period, up by one, the Vees were protecting the lead and didn’t allow Salmon Arm to get any real quality looks at the net. A lot of the time the ‘Backs shooters were stuck firing shots from the outside, on the outer edges of the circles. I know he scored, but outside of his second period goal, Landon Smith was kept in check for the most part. He threw a lot of shots to the net, as I would wager he had 5-6 but the majority of those came from the outside; not between the circles. Its not just the D, as the forwards need to get credit for their work on the back-check, helping out along the walls and giving the Vees D an outlet option.
- It was an emotional win and the Vees dedicated tonight’s victory to team Chaplain Jamie Weberg, as he is going through some tough times. There was a great outpouring of support on Twitter from the players, and I can say the entire organization sends their thoughts and prayers to Jamie and his family. Keep fighting brother. #VeesFamily #DIFJ #StayStrong