Post-Game GM #4: Shooting Blanks in Merritt

  • The Vees perfect start to their BCHL regular season came to an end on Saturday in Merritt. The Cents’ scored twice at the end of the first and added one in the second and two more in the third, cruising to a 5-0 win in their home opener.
  • It’s early, VERY early but there’s a logjam at the top of the Interior Division standings, as it’s a four-way tie for first. The Vees, Cents’, West Kelowna Warriors and Salmon Arm Silverbacks all sport 3-1 records. I don’t think that will change much throughout the season; it will be tight.
  • Back to Saturday’s game and I would simply characterize it as “one of those nights” where nothing went right for the Vees. No matter what they seemed to do they couldn’t catch a break and it seemed any mistake they made ended up in the back of their net.
  • Take the first for example.Despite being down 2-0 after the opening period I thought the Vees played pretty well. In fact, I liked their first period Saturday more than their first period Friday in Trail when they were tied 0-0 after twenty minutes with the Smokies. Unfortunately on Saturday the two mistakes in the period ended up costing them. The first Merritt goal came off a bad pitch by the defenseman in the neutral zone and the second was after a fumble by Hunter Miska on a routine shot; he handles that puck cleanly 99 times out of 100.
  • The Vees had some good pressure off the get go Saturday but their lack of execution came back to bite them in the rear-end. They had plenty of time in the offensive zone with the puck, got themselves into scoring areas but couldn’t pull the trigger in the end. Far too many times they missed the net, had their shot blocked or just got their wires crossed.
  • I think the real turning point came early in the second period, when the Vees were pressuring the Cents’ for the first handful of minutes of the period. They were buzzing in the Merritt end but couldn’t get that one grade ‘A’ chance to go in. What happens? One miscue in the neutral zone creates a two-on-one for Merritt and James Neil scores to make in 3-0; straw that broke the camels back. The Vees had all the momentum up until that goal and all of a sudden it’s a three-goal hole. If they could have scored early in the second during that sustained sequence, you’re looking at a 2-1 game with thirty-five minutes of hockey left.
  • Credit Luke Pierce’s team, as they played a heavy game for the entire night, pressuring the Vees in their end and always made sure to put a shoulder into someone wearing blue. Their fore-check never let up, as they always seemed to be on the Vees puck carrier and they found a way to swarm the puck in their own zone.
  • Jonah Imoo didn’t have to be spectacular but was technically sound all night making thirty-seven saves for his first shutout as a Centennial. Not to take anything away but the Vees didn’t really test him with a dangerous shot but that’s not his fault, as he stopped what he saw and that’s all you can ask for in a goalie.
  • Looking at the schedule you knew this was going to be a difficult weekend for the Vees with lots of bus time and two tough games in two unique arenas. I thought fatigue crept into the Vees game on Saturday if not so much physically as mentally, which led to a few gaffes that cost them goals. Remember, for a lot of these younger players, it was their first time playing in an environment like Merritt and maybe they were caught off guard. Put it this way, I don’t think will see the same type of performance out of the Vees next time their in Merritt.

About CBeauchemin

Director of Broadcasting & Communication for the Penticton Vees
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