(Sorry, no game pictures available tonight)
- Odd headline for a blog but I’ll explain. No, last check you don’t get points in the standings for moral victories but I thought there was plenty of positives to take out of the Vees 4-3 loss in Vernon.
- One, the Vees loss wasn’t for a lack of effort, even though they gave up three goals in the first period. Last night their first period effort against Trail was not even close to what they put forth tonight, but last night it’s scoreless after one, and tonight they find themselves down three. Friday they deserved a 3-0 deficit after the first but it came tonight, where they deserved a far better fate. Junior Hockey. Unpredictable.
- Two, I hate bringing this topic into the conversation, because I am not a huge believer in it, but the Vees really didn’t have much, if any “puck luck” tonight. They were all over the Vipers early and had a few scoring chances come from it, but like games past, they lacked some finish from scoring areas. It came back to bite them.
- Back it up for a moment, and the first goal the Vipers got was the definition of the term “hometown bounce.” Off a won face-off in their own zone, the Vees tried to reverse the puck around their net, only to have the puck kick-off the stanchion and dart right back out front. Ryan Renz was the guy at the right place, at the right time. His eyes must have lit up when he saw the puck jet out to him in close, just feet off the crease. It played out like the hardest shot competition at an NHL All-Star function, as Renz got a running start on a one-timer from between the circles that sizzled past Olivier Mantha; he had no chance. That back-breaker coming not even two minutes into the game. Without question that shakes Mantha, it would any goalie, when the first shot you face goes in and it was out of his control. Tough, tough, break for the visitors early.
- Next time down the ice, Brendan Persley races down a shoot-in on the left-wing of the Vees zone, and from well out, wires a wrist-shot over the shoulder of Olivier Mantha. For the first time in a LONG time I could say that’s a goal that the Vees goaltender would have wanted back. Two shots, two goals. Oh. Remember, the shots were like 5-2 for the Vees at that point, yet their losing by a pair.
- A mistake, (not many in the period but it seemed like Vernon scored on every one), was the Vees failing to pickup players on a odd-man rush that was eventually scored on by Josh Bryan. The Vees got caught up ice in that situation and the Vipers took advantage, as Bryan went hard to the net and cleaned up the garbage. That third goal was the result of the Vees failing to pickup on the back-check but mistakes do creep into teams game once in a while.
- Mantha was given the hook after the Vipers third goal, and you really do have to feel for the guy. Three goals on five shots in just of 11 minutes of work. Not Mantha-esk numbers one bit. That stat would be more fitting for me when I played goalie in street hockey as a kid. He handled the situation extremely well, as he didn’t pout or throw a fit. Mantha, after one of his worst starts (statistically speaking), became a cheerleader but was into the game and wasn’t a distraction on the bench. Good for him.
- The Vees got a bit of a lifeline, when Ryan Renz was dinged for a four-minute high sticking penalty late in the first. That four-minute power-play carried over to the second and the Vees wasted little time getting to work. Brad McClure scored on a sweet pass from the point by Brett Beauvais; that goal coming just 40 seconds into the second. On the second part of the double minor, the Vees scored again, as Shane McColgan was credited with tapping the puck in at the side of the net after a scramble. Hearing though the puck might have been touched last by Brad McClure; we’ll wait and see on that. They comeback from down 3-0 in the first, twomake it a 3-2 game early in the second and had momentum and time on their side.
- But a controversial icing called changed things dramatically. The Vees were charged with icing a puck, though it looked to have been redirected near the Vees bench. Call stands, Vipers win the face-off, throw the puck to the net and TJ Dumonceaux makes it 4-2. The Vees coaching staff were quite upset about the call, or lack there of on the play. It comes down to being a judgement call and the Vees were on the wrong end of that.