Interior Divisional Final: A “Serri-ous” Comeback in Vernon

Matt Serratore scored twice in the comeback Monday

Matt Serratore scored twice in the comeback Monday

Game Recap 


  • All season, the Vees only won twice when trailing going into the third period, as they had a 2-13-1-1 record. They’ve already matched that in seven playoff games, as Monday marked the second time in these playoffs the Vees won when down after forty minutes. Both times they won was when they were down 3-2 heading into the third. They were in the same scenario back in game two against Merritt, before scoring five unanswered goals; one an empty-netter. Monday, they score three unanswered goals, two in the third period, for another comeback.
  • Quite the win with all things considered. That first period, as Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said in the post-game show, might have been one of the Vees worst periods this season; in their own end in particular. They coughed up the puck way too much and not only that, they coughed it up half a dozen times in “critical areas” as Coach Cawley put it. These mistakes weren’t coming from inexperienced players either. these were errors from their veterans. Right from the get go, the Vipers were given a golden chance, as a failed reverse play behind the Vees net, resulted in a one-timer between the circles for a Viper; Hunter Miska made a great save but it didn’t end there. Put aside the Brett Mulcahy power-play goal, the other two goals were the result of mental gaffes. The first, an ill-advised pass at center, that was turned around into a late breaking two-on-one. The second Vipers goal came after a misread at the offensive blue-line by a Vees defender. Two goals on two self-inflicted wounds so to speak. Hunter Miska wasn’t entirely at fault on all three goals, as he got the hook 9:41 into the game and you have to feel for him; hung out to dry early and had a couple bad bounces go against him.
  • So, with all that, being down 3-1 not even 10 minutes into the game, a goaltender switch early in Vernon, again, the Vees still don’t fold. I sound like a broken record but credit this group for not throwing in the towel. I heard a second-hand comment from Brad McClure, the Vees Captain, who said the team never felt like they were going to lose the game, even when it was 3-1. They sure played that way. The Vees kept at it, cleaned up their act in the final two periods and pulled out a game three win. Impressive.
  • They were a much different and better team over the final two periods. Just look at the stats, as they tell the story. The Vipers scored three times in the first nine minutes and change in the first period, and had seven shots on net at that point. Over the final 40 minutes, the Vees outscored them (the Vipers) 3-0 and out shot them 20-12. The Vipers had just six shots in the second and four in the third. Remember, that includes a four-minute power-play Vernon had at the end of the second and early stages of the third period. The turnaround was a result of better puck management, as the Vees simply made plays in their own end they weren’t making in the first period. Their defense spent less time with the puck on their stick, which is a good thing and got the breakout going. There was no hot-potato with the puck in critical areas and they rarely had to make second and third attempts at clearing it.
  • The comeback was kicked-off by a Vees power-play goal no less. Remember, their power-play was 0-9 in the series heading into game three and was 0-2 up until Brad McClure scored five minutes into the second; that PPG snapping an 0-12 slump. Nice goal too, as the Vees Captain ripped it from the mid-point after Brett Beauvais served up the puck on a platter. Crucial moment to score, trimming the deficit to one but an added boost when its the Captain doing it.
  • As mentioned, the Vees had to overcome a little adversity when McClure was dinged with a four-minute high sticking penalty. That was late in the second, with just two and half minutes remaining in the period. There was a late flurry to end that period near the Vees net and Paul Stoykewych saved a goal with a great knee save at the post. If the Vipers score there, it’s 4-2 and that might have been ball game. But Stoykewych drops to his knees, goes all Kevin Bieska and keeps it at 3-2. Great moment for him, as he was one of the veterans who struggled in the first, so it was great to see him rebound just one period later.
  • The kids are alright. The Vees were missing veterans Ben Dalpe, Shane McColgan and Cam Amantea in game three, as those three have over 10 years of junior experience put together. Replacing them were Max Coatta, Josh Blanchard and AP Mitch Newsome, who team up for seven total games of BCHL playoff experience leading up to game three. Coatta is playing with a definite chip on his shoulder, he goes out there acting like someone has personally wronged him on every shift and it’s great. Josh Blanchard didn’t let the big stage scare him and the same goes for Newsome, who was making his BCHL playoff debut at the ripe age of 16. Monday was Newsome’s fourth game in three and a half days, as he played a best-of-three BCMML Semi-Final with the Valley West Hawks on the weekend in Kelowna against the Okanagan Rockets. All three contributed in their own way but all three proved they were more than capable of playing in the setting. Newsome almost tied the game immediately after the Vipers went up 1-0, as his redirect in the crease just went high and wide. Blanchard was really smart with the puck, especially in the offensive zone, as he knew when to hang on it and when not to; he was also effective below the circles.
  • Continuing on the topic of depth, Matt Serratore scores twice, the Vees first and last goals and now has three goals and seven points in seven playoff games; a point per-game player. He had just five goals and 14 points in the regular season. So, he’s hit the halfway mark of his regular season total in just seven games. Coach Cawley again had a great point post-game, saying it wasn’t for a lack of skill that Serratore wasn’t scoring in the regular season, as he was one of the top Vees in earned Grade A chances. He’s now executing on those chances.
  • Brad McClure. Doing Brad McClure things. Colour Commentator Trevor Miller coined the phrase “McCluring,” when he makes things happen. He has an absurd 10-game goal-scoring streak and has points in 12 straight games.
  • A stick tap to Olivier Mantha who provided some stability in goal after coming in for Hunter Miska. He only faced 12 shots but faced a flurry late in the second, when Vernon was on that extended power-play and also made a couple of nice saves when the Vipers were pressing with the extra attacker. Also a nod to the Vees defense late, who blocked a handful of dangerous looking Vernon attempts in the final two minutes.

About CBeauchemin

Director of Broadcasting & Communication for the Penticton Vees
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