Radio: EZ Rock AM 800
Webcast: Fasthockey Pay-Per-View
Sep 25th 3-1 Vipers (Kal-Tire Place)
Oct 25th 6-5 (OT) Vees (SOEC)
Nov 20th 5-2 Vees (SOEC)
Jan 10th 2-1 Vees (Kal-Tire Place)
Jan 24th 6-1 Vees (Kal-Tire Place)
Feb 14th 2-1 Vipers (SOEC)
Feb 22nd 4-3 Vipers (Kal-Tire Place)
Playoff Series Schedule
Game 1 March 14th (SOEC) 7pm
Game 2 March 15th (SOEC) 6pm
Game 3 March 17th (Kal-Tire Place) 7pm
Game 4 March 18th (Kal-Tire Place) 7pm
Game 5* March 20th (SOEC) 7pm
Game 6* March 21st (Kal-Tire Place) 7pm
Game 7* March 22nd (SOEC) 6pm
* If necessary
- The Vees have quietly gone about a six-game win streak dating back to February 28th, when they beat the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 3-1. During this run, they’ve outscored their opposition 29-13. They outscored the Merritt Centennials 23-10 in their four-game sweep.
- Funny enough, the Vees last loss was against the Vipers, back on February 22nd when they were tripped up 4-3 at Kal-Tire Place in Vernon. In that game, they almost came back from a three-goal deficit but in the end, fell a goal short. Maybe that game and that effort was springboard for their recent success.
- Brad McClure comes into the series riding a nine-game point streak. In those nine games, McClure has 10 goals and 17 points; he’s scored in seven straight. I spoke with him today, a conversation that will air tonight, and he says he’s encouraged by the production, after what he deemed as a “slump” from late January to February. McClure has gone on record numerous times stating he doesn’t care about the points as long as the team is winning. But it’s great to see the Vees top producer getting hot at the right time.
- It’s not just McClure, as the Vees are getting production from throughout their line-up, hence why their success of late. Eight Vees are averaging a point per-game or more heading into the series against Vernon. 10 Vees have scored in this series, with four scoring two or more goals. Depth players have stepped up in a big way, just look at the trio of Jack Ramsey, Matt Serratore and Riley Alferd, who’ve combined for four goals and 12 points. It’s no secret the Vees will need this time of production to continue if they’re going to be successful against Vernon.
- The blue-line has stepped up as well, combining for four goals and 13 points in just four games. All but one defenseman has at least a point in the playoffs and three have two or more. Paul Stoykewych leads the way with three goals and four points, followed by Brett Beauvais 1-4-5 and Patrick Sexton 0-2-2. The defense was a key to the offense against Merritt, in the ability to found ways to join the rush or pinch at the most opportune times. What the Vees blue-line can do, at both ends, might be the difference in a series win or loss.
- All signs point to Olivier Mantha getting the start for game one against Vernon, if you go by the Vees season-long goalie rotation. Mantha and Hunter Miska split the goaltending duties in round one and likely will do so in round two; at the start anyway. Mantha was 2-2 in the regular season against Vernon but is 2-0 in the playoffs with a 1.84 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage; he’s got one shutout too.
- Doesn’t look like there will be any changes up front for the Vees and we will have to wait until game time to see a line-up for confirmation. They had a set line-up in the first round, with Josh Blanchard and Max Coatta being the odd-men out. They swept with the line-up they used in round one, so why mess with a good thing?
- For those history buffs, this is the sixth time the Vees and Vipers meet in the post-season since 2005. The last time they met was back in 2010, also in the Interior Final; the Vipers won that series in six, en route to their second straight RBC Cup. This is the Vipers first Interior Final appearance since 2011, the Vees third consecutive.
- Special teams might be the biggest key going into this series. The Vees power-play is ranked fourth in the playoffs, clicking at 25 percent but was a league-best 23.50 percent in the regular season. The Vipers penalty-killing was ranked 10th after the first round (72 percent) and was ranked ninth in the regular season (81.50). Only the Alberni Valley Bulldogs (36) took more penalties than the Vipers (34) in the first round, and the Bulldogs played one more game (7). The Vipers play a hard-nosed game, which can lead to penalty trouble, the Vees will need to make the most of their opportunities with the man-advantage.
McClure 6-2-8 Serratore 1-3-4 Hilderman 0-1-1
Erik Benoit 0-8-8 Alferd 2-1-3
DePourcq 3-4-7 Beauvais 1-2-3
McColgan 2-4-6 Amantea 1-1-2
Pierog 2-4-6 Cooper 1-1-2
Ramsey 1-4-5 Sexton 0-2-2
Stoykewych 3-1-4 Dalpe 0-1-1
Scoring vs Vernon
DePourcq 6-3-9 Blanleil 1-3-4 Hilderman 1-0-1
McClure 3-3-6 Pierog 1-3-4 Sexton 1-0-1
Coatta 4-1-5 Dalpe 0-4-4 Alferd 0-1-1
Beauvais 1-4-5 Blanchard 1-2-3 Ramsey 0-1-1
Benoit 2-2-4 Cooper 0-3-3 Rygus 0-1-1
McColgan 2-2-4 Stoykewych 0-2-2
- The Vipers weren’t led by their “top guys” from the regular season in round one, it was actually their depth players stepping to the forefront. Brendan Persley, who had just six goals and 19 points in the regular season, leads the team in playoff scoring with four goals and 10 points in just six games. Colton Sparrow, who had a respectable 11 goals and 34 points in the regular season, is third in playoff scoring with two goals and nine points. Right behind him is TJ Dumonceaux who has four goals and six points after round one; he had just seven goals all season. You can see where I’m going with this. The Vipers, like the Vees, can contribute a large chunk of their first round success to their depth.
- Their top five scorers from the regualr season (McNicholas, Dancs, Mulcahy, Coughlin and Hannoun), combined for 89 goals and 247 points. In the playoffs, those five have combined for 11 goals and 17 points in six games; pretty good. But, if you take away Mulcahy (8-1-9), the other four have just three goals and eight points as a group. The Vipers don’t have to worry, as long as they continue to get a balanced approach to their offense. It’s a matter of time before their go-to guys offensively come around but the Vees will want to slow that process down as much as possible.
- Mulcahy is ranked second in team playoff scoring; no real surprise there. Hannoun is ranked fifth, Coughlin ninth, McNicholas thirteenth and Dancs is tied for last with zero points. Their top five in playoff scoring is Persley, Mulcahy, Sparrow, Dumonceaux and Josh Bryan; not many would have predicted that grouping to lead the way but that’s playoff hockey.
- The line of Persley, Dumonceaux and Hannoun have scored 43 percent of the Vipers goals in the playoffs. The trio has combined for nine goals and 20 points in six games. To put that into perspective, their penciled in number one line of Mason Blacklock, Michael McNicholas and Liam Coughlin have just two goals and six points.
- You can look at it one of two ways. The Vipers are getting big contributions from their depth players and that’s huge come playoff time. Or, their key offensive guys aren’t producing and need to if they’re going to win this series. As a coach, you likely don’t care who’s scoring, as long as you are scoring and scoring more goals than the opposition. It’s the playoffs, just win one more game than your opposition.
- Austin Smith quietly put together a tidy first round against West Kelowna. He had a 4-2 record, with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage; he also had one shutout. Against the Vees this season, Smith was 2-2 with a 2.86 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage. He had some great showings against the Vees this season and when he gets hot, he’s tough to beat.
- Like for Penticton, the key for the Vipers will be special teams. They averaged almost five penalties against in round one, as they were short-handed 29 times in six games. They will have to stay out of the box and try to keep this series five-on-five, or they might be in trouble. That’s not a bold statement, just look at the numbers in the special teams department. Playing short-handed isn’t advantageous to playoff success and that’s not just because the risk of goals against. The Vipers will also have to be careful of not taxing certain players with too many minutes, and killing penalties can tire a team out; added minutes to a select group. Vernon likes to play a physical brand of hockey but they can’t cross the line is this series, or they might get burned by the Vees power-play, which was ranked number one in the regular season.
Persley 4-6-10 Renz 0-4-4 Chanter 0-1-1
Mulcahy 8-1-9 Coughlin 2-0-2 Wilson 0-1-1
Sparrow 2-7-9 Blacklock 0-2-2
Dumonceaux 4-2-6 Blacklock 0-2-2
Hannoun 1-3-4 Citron 0-2-2
Bryan 0-4-4 Guenther 0-2-2
Mick 0-4-4 McNicholas 0-2-2
Scoring vs Vees
Dancs 3-2-5 Dumonceaux 2-0-2 Saharchuk 0-2-2
Mick 1-4-5 Blacklock 1-1-2 Citron 1-0-1
Hannoun 0-5-5 Guenther 1-1-2 Sparrow 0-1-1
Persley 2-2-4 Renz 1-1-2 Statchuk 0-1-1
Bryan 1-3-4 Wilson 1-1-2
McNicholas 1-2-3 Coughlin 0-2-2