Post-Game #57: Battling to the End

Game Recap 

Boxscore 

  • It wasn’t necessarily pretty but there are no style points in the BCHL. After a somewhat sluggish start, the Vees turned it on in the final forty-minutes to pick up their first win in Salmon Arm this season. The most important thing out of tonight is they got the two points and give themselves a shot at an Interior Division title with a win tomorrow at home.
  • The Vees started February with a loss in Salmon Arm, 4-1 back on Saturday, February 1st. They end February with a win, in Salmon Arm. That loss to Salmon Arm was the ‘Backs last win, as after tonight that injury-riddled squad has lost nine straight. Funny how certain teams can have your number for the majority of the season and at a particular venue. On paper, the Vees three previous visits to Salmon Arm weren’t close, as they lost 5-2, 4-2 and 3-1. They were outscored 12-5 in previous three trips to the Shaw Centre but tonight almost match that output in one game.
  • What was different tonight than the previous three trips? Mental toughness for starters. It seemed like in visits past, the Vees would have these lapses that allowed the ‘Backs to pull away from games. 5-10 minute segments where the ‘Backs turned it on and capitalized. Tonight, despite giving up an early goal, on the first shot against no less, the Vees didn’t wilt and didn’t let the game pass them by. Despite an early goal against, the Vees stuck with it and were eventually rewarded late in the second and again early in the third period. Tonight they proved to themselves if they stick with the process, stick with the game plan laid out in front of them, they’ll be rewarded.
  • They stuck to the game plan for the most of the game. The Vees had their struggles in the first, as they couldn’t get much traction. They seemed to be, well, “off” in the opening period. The passing just wasn’t there, they were missing either a foot ahead or a foot behind their intended targets and just couldn’t get it fired up. I thought they were a tad guilty of trying to be too perfect in the early going; if that makes sense. They tried to forces things too much, guilty of trying to make the perfect pass. Sometimes simpler is better.
  • Where I thought the Vees turned it around was with their approach in the final two periods. One, they had a better mindset, as they played with a much more noticeable bite int he second. They were more physical, more aggressive attacking the puck and were just harder to play against. In the first I thought they gave too much time to the Silverbacks when they were in their own zone. Turn to the second and third, the Vees had guys dogging the puck carrier and taking away time and space. When the Vees were getting in Salmon Arm’s face, they caused problems and that led to turnovers.
  • One player at the front of the pack in being a nuisance to play against was Nic Pierog. You can almost see him flip the switch midway through the second, after the Vees first power-play. All of the sudden he was using his body in forcing mistakes in the Salmon Arm end; those mistakes led to chances for the Vees. When Pierog is playing angry he’s at his best and he looked a bit ticked-off Friday. He went at the Salmon Arm net, didn’t shy away from the high-traffic areas and even mixed it up after whistles. More of that please.
  • Salmon Arm only had 10 regulars dressed upfront tonight and were down to nine in the last two periods, after Jack Berezan left the game in the first with an apparent head injury.  They only had five defensemen dressed but despite the short benched, they played the Vees hard and were a handful from start to finish. Yes, Salmon Arm was short-handed but the Vees made sure they took advantage of it. It’s one thing to say you’re going to do something, but another thing to actually do it. The Vees knew they had to find a way to expose the short-staffed ‘Backs and they did. It wasn’t necessarily with their speed but more so with their relentlessness. They kept coming at the ‘Backs, kept eating up clock in the offensive end and just tired-out a banged-up squad. Regardless of Salmon Arm’s situation, the Vees did a good job at utilizing their depth.
  • I liked the looks of Jack Ramsey, Riley Alferd and Matt Serratore. A new look checking-line that had a significant impact on the game. As a whole they stood out to me, Ramsey scored what turned out to be the game-winner and the only other assist went to Alferd; despite what the BCHL boxscore says, Ramsey did score. Back to the three and they were just flat-out annoying to play against. All three skated well, didn’t over complicate things and were hard on the puck all night. I thought the three had a strong night going from offense to defense and vice versa. Ramsey’s net presence paid off in the opening moments of the third, when he poked in a rebound. These three can be an energy line that can I can see having an impact in the post-season: good defensively but you can’t sleep on them when they cross the opposition’s blue-line.
  • Congrats to Vees Captain Brad McClure on hitting the 40-goal plateau. He achieved the milestone late in the third period when he hit the dead middle of an empty net from centre ice. McClure joins the likes of Beau Bennett, Denver Manderson, Mario Lucia and Bryce Gervais as 40-goal scorers in the last five years under Fred Harbinson. That’s some pretty elite company Brad’s joining.
  • Ho-hum another one-goal against defensive performance from the Vees. After giving nine shots in the first, they only surrendered 11 in the last two periods combined. Salmon Arm was held to just 20 shots in the game. I know they’re missing bodies but the Vees still had to face the trio of Alex Gillies, Evan Anderson and Landon Smith. I know that line scored in the first but they were pretty quiet after that. The Vees have an uncanny ability to act like a vice and squeeze the middle of the ice. They kept Salmon Arm to the outside for the most part and blocked quite of a few shots when the ‘Backs found themselves in a scoring area. They say defense wins you championships, so you hope the defensive game continues to go stronger rolling into the post-season.
  • They knew the carrot dangling in front of them ahead of tonight’s game. Win and you get a chance at a division title on home ice the following night. Great to see the team respond to the challenge and now chance a divisional pennant tomorrow.
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About CBeauchemin

Director of Broadcasting & Communication for the Penticton Vees
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