Audio Highlights: Vernon 5 Vees 2
- The tables were turned somewhat, as the Vipers were the ones Tuesday to mount a comeback in the second and come from behind to win in game four. Down 2-1 late in the second, Riley Guenther and Michael McNicholas scored 1:40 apart to turn a one-goal deficit into a 3-2 lead. The Vipers rode the momentum generated late in the second, right into the third, as they got two more goals in the final frame, an insurance marker from Colton Sparrow and the empty-netter from Brendan Persley. three unanswered goals by the Vipers Tuesday. Remember, Monday the Vees turned around a 3-1 second period deficit, scored three unanswered and won 4-3. Both teams now know the feeling of being on the right side and wrong side of a comeback; all this is just 24 hours.
- Were the Vees uncomfortable with the lead? Odd question to ask but they haven’t really played with a lead in this series until the third period. Tonight they led for nine minutes of the second period before the late flurry by Vernon. I don’t think the Vees necessarily sat back when they were up 2-1, as they did a good job of grinding out any momentum for Vernon, up until those two late goals. Did they back off somewhat? Sure, any team does, it’s only human nature to play more cautious with a lead, on the road, in a playoff game. But remember, it wasn’t like they were sitting back and having the Vipers come at them in waves. Up until those two late goals, the Vipers only had around 4-5 shots on the net in that period ,
- What really turned things around for Vernon, was the fact their defensemen made some plays, something they had the edge in tonight. Riley Guenther knocks down a clearing attempt and hammers a slap-shot post and in to tie the game at two. Then Dylan Chanter makes a great read and throws a slap-pass to the crease for Michael McNicholas who did a good job to tip the puck in a high traffic area. Liam Coughlin did well to keep that play alive in the Vees zone, as he found Chanter on the wall with a pass from the blue-line. Basically, the Vipers defense made two plays the Vees defense couldn’t tonight and that changed the complexion of this game.
- Must give credit to the Vernon defense, as the group really turned their game around after a spotty performance in game three. Tonight all six contributed in same way, shape or form. They didn’t run around nearly as much in their zone as game three, kept the Vees to the outside for the most part, especially in the third and found a way to neutralize Brad McClure. The Vees Captain didn’t have any space like he did in game three, as he got bumped quite a few times tonight, as it appeared the Vernon plan was to take away his time and space in the offensive end. McClure constantly had someone trying to give him a bump when they could.
- With McClure pretty well tied up, guys like Erik Benoit and Nic Pierog had to take a more prominent role and both had their share of chances. Benoit had a real determined look to him in game four, as he was constantly trying to get something going every time he crossed the blue-line. Benoit had two great looks at the goal, one in the first period, when from his knees, he poked the puck off the post. Pierog likely was the Vees best forward on Tuesday. He was trying to make plays and in tough areas of the offensive zone. He and Cody DePourcq worked well together and also with call-up Mitch Newsome when he skated on their line. Pierog’s first period goal was a classic power-forward type move we see on TV quite a bit. He moved from the left-goal to the front of the net and then forced a shot five-hole past Smith. A big goal at the time for Pierog not only tying the game but snapping a four game goalless streak as well.
- Vernon’s best line was Dexter Dancs, Michael McNicholas and Liam Coughlin. Consistently, I thought they had the more sustained pressure in the Vees zone and scoring chances because of that. I know Brendan Persley finished with three points but to me, Dancs and Coughling were the two best Vipers. Both used their size well to create separation with defenders and both were hard to get off the puck when the game was played below the circles.
- Not overall but in certain stretches, the Vees lack of puck management got them in trouble. Off the start, the Vipers came at the Vee hard, with another one of those big swings. The Vees weren’t doing themselves any favours with their errant passing early in that first ten minutes. Two goals stand out for me when it comes to puck playing ability. One, the Vees missed an opportunity to get the puck out of their zone from the corner. The clearing attempt was slow coming up the boards and it was knocked down by the point man and Vernon eventually scored on a quick slap-shot; 2-2 . The Vees defender had time but didn’t utilize it. The other goal that I didn’t like was the Vipers fourth goal, where the Vees looked like they were playing a game of hot-potatoe behind their net. A sequence dogged by errors, the fourth goal came off the stick of Sparrow after a quick shot from the bottom of the right circle.
- The Vees didn’t have the push they wanted to have in the third. Firstly, the Vipers D did a solid job of not giving up the middle, as the Vees in the third were stuck on the wing. There wasn’t many occasions when the Vees found themselves in the slot or between the circles in the attacking end. Secondly, when a shot was put towards goal the Vipers D cleared out the front of the net very well; the Vees had very few secondary chances.
- Some might be disappointed the Vees couldn’t take a 3-1 series lead after having a lead in game 4, but at the end of the day, it’s a best-of-three now with the Vees having home ice advantage in games five and if necessary, game seven. I would have taken that at the start of the series.