Double-Overtime Game-Winning Goal by Matt Serratore
- They never led for a single minute of regulation and erased two deficits on their way to their 17th win of the season. The Vees certainly didn’t make it easy on themselves with their start, going down a pair in the first and then having to come from behind in the second as well. Though it wasn’t how they envisioned it, Friday was definitely a character win for the Vees. Despite all the difficulties they had they saw this game through and got the two points.
- The start was troublesome no other way to put it really. The Vees looked sluggish in their own zone with and without the puck in the first period. No, the ice didn’t look great but the Vees just couldn’t handle the puck well inside their blue-line in period number one. A lot of their trouble came from not getting the puck out of the zone when they had opportunities to. Quite a few times they would muff a play to go off the boards or glass and it would be back on a Victoria stick. Those turnovers got the Vees chasing and it led to two Victoria goals.
- On the Victoria first goal the Vees top line was stuck out on the ice for an extended shift and Victoria’s top-line took advantage. The Vees were chasing, they were tired and Matt Kennedy got himself open and rifled a shot up and underneath the cross-bar on the near side. You could almost see it coming, as the Vees had a couple of chances to clear and then couldn’t. Puck stays in and eventually it finds the back of the net.
- Victoria’s second goal was just a play the Vees would have loved to have a redo on. Puck is thrown behind the Vees net, Gabe Bast was their first but he’s muscled off the puck and Mitch Barker finds a wide open PJ Colon in the slot for the one-timer and it’s 2-0. Two uncharacteristic turnovers by the Vees and it’s quickly 2-0 lead for the hosts.
- Gabe Bast didn’t have a great first. In fact, Assistant Steve Cawley singled him out saying it was his worst period of hockey as a Vee. Why that comment? Because Bast showed a lot by turning his game around in the second and third period. He was a tank the rest of the way.
- Outside of those blunders it was a pretty good road period for the visitors. The Vees had their shortcomings in their end but did generate quite a few good chances at the other end and did out-shoot Victoria 12-6. That’s why those two goals stick out like a sore thumb. The Vees could have had themselves a good first but did get a lifeline late.
- Huge goal by Jack Ramsey inside the final three-minutes of the to not only cut the deficit in half but give the Vees some confidence and reinsurance. Nice play by Mike Lee to pick out Ramsey up the middle, as the lanky forward took the pass at the blue-line, separated himself from the two defenders and then put a laser up over the shoulder of Michael Stiliadis. Much different going into the break down 2-1 rather than starting at 2-0 deficit. That goal gave the Vees the shot in the arm they needed.
- Special teams were huge, HUGE for the Vees Friday. They scored two power-play goals and at critical times and the penalty-kill came up large late in the third period, in a tied game.
- The power-play came up with a critical goal at the end of the first and again at the end of the second. After Riley Alferd and Brett Gruber scored 44 seconds apart at the start of the second, the Vees saw themselves down a goal again late in a period. Again the power-play manufactured a key goal but this time it was an equalizer. Great vision and patience by Riley Alferd to spot out Gabe Bast who crept down from the point. Bast slid into the slot and then went to one knee to one-time the Alferd dish through the legs of Stiliadis. Funny moment, as Bast didn’t know he scored right away and took his cue from his celebrating teammates. Bast got just enough on the shot to force it through the goalies legs and along the ice. Five straight games the Vees power-play has scored at least one goal in a game.
- How big was that power-play goal in the second? The Vees are now 2-0-0 when tied after two periods, compared to being 0-1-0 when trailing after two this season. Doesn’t sound like much but that’s four points compared to zero.
- You could single out that goal as the “TSN Turning Point” but there was one play a couple of shifts prior to that goal that stood out for me. Patrick Sexton, playing his first game since the passing of his Grandfather, crushed the Grizzlies Quinn Thompson at the Victoria blue-line. Thompson was attempting to skate the puck out but Sexton stepped up and lowered his shoulder right into Thompson’s chest for a massive hit. Textbook open ice hit; a Sexton calling card. It was one of those moments that woke everyone up in the building. Unfortunate to see Thompson hurt on the play as he didn’t return but that play was a swift kick in the ass for the Vees.
- Friday showed why Sexton is a Co-Captain. He flies into Victoria Friday after an early morning commute from Ottawa. Meets the team at the hotel, climbs on the bus and goes to the rink and helps his team to a comeback win. He looked so composed when he had every right not to be. The Vees fed of his influence and that big time hit. He was a calming influence for an inexperienced defensive core and was fully deserving of his third star recognition. Sexton was everything a Captain is supposed to be Friday.
- After that hit and then the Bast power-play goal, the game completely turned in the Vees favour. The third period looked like it was played with the tilt button firmly pressed. The Vees were all over a tired Grizzlies squad for much of the third period as the puck rarely came outside of the Victoria end. The Vees found an extra gear that Victoria couldn’t much and if it wasn’t for their goalie Michael Stiliadis, this game would have been won in the third by Penticton.
- A big reason for the dramatic shift in play was the Vees prowess in the face-circle in the third period. They were winning nearly every draw and that means they kept starting with the puck. I thought the Vees had their struggles in the circle in the first period but got better in the second and then really took over in the third. If you keep losing face-offs, like Victoria did in the third, you have to start by chasing the puck and that’s where fatigue will set in. Got to tip your hat to guys like Riley Alferd, Steen Cooper and Cody DePourcq who kept winning face-off after face-off in the third period.
- Like the third, the Vees looked like the more threatening team in the two overtime periods. Yes, Victoria outshot the Vees 5-0 in the four-on-four overtime but most of those attempts came from the boards on routine shots from the outside. The Vees didn’t officially get a puck on goal in the first OT but were buzzing around the Victoria net and had a few close calls. You just has this feeling they were going to eventually find the game-winner and they did in the second overtime session.
- The game-winner by Serratore started way back in the Vees end right in front of the net. Jack Ramsey settled the puck down, turned up ice and then hit a streaking Serratore on the left-wing with a great tape-to-tape pass. “Serri” turned on the jets, blew by the defenseman and fired a shot on goal from the left-wing. His initial bid was stopped by the goalies pad but Serratore quickly smacked the rebound through the goalies leg and just across the line for the G-W-G (game-winning goal). Vees are now 3-0-0 in overtime, as all three wins have been decided in double OT. Second straight overtime game that Serratore decided to play the role of hero as well.
- Before I wrap this up, I can’t overlook the effort from Brendan Barry. He improved to 5-0-0 on the year and made 24 saves in the win. His save-percentage took a beating early but that was the result of him being hung out to dry by his team. I’m starting to notice he’s a “big game” goalie, a guy who gets better if the stakes are higher. Don’t overlook his three-save sequence late in the third on that Victoria power-play. Barry made two excellent lateral pad saves on one-timers and then he took a shot off his own mask for good measure. He looks so poised in the Vees crease. He may have allowed three but made damn well sure Victoria was not getting a fourth.
- Speaking of poise, the Vees are showing plenty of that this year.The Vees are now 6-1-0-0 when the other team scores first. That shows me this team doesn’t get rattled when things don’t go their way early.