Post-Game #26: Vees Rally to Beat Cents’…Again, Sweep Weekend

Game Recap Nov 22




Brendan Barry stopped 24 of 27 shots to improve to 7-0-0.

  • Friday and Saturday’s game closely mirrored each other through forty-minutes and the Vees once again came back from a third period deficit to beat the Cents’ and sweep the weekend home-and-home set. Just like Friday, Penticton and Merritt played to a scoreless, tight-checking first period. Just like Friday, the two teams combined for a three-goal second period, which saw the Cents’ lead 2-1 after two, thanks to a go-ahead power-play goal. That’s where the similarities end though. Yes, the Vees tied it early in the third but it was a back-and-forth final twenty-minutes of hockey that saw the Vees score four times to cruise to the 5-3 win.
  • Skip over the first twenty-minutes and lets dive into the middle stanza which wasn’t short on drama and story lines. The Vees had a great start, as Jack Ramsey scored just three and half minutes into the second to put the visitors up 1-0. Riley Alferd swept the face-off to the wall, Matt Serratore swung in and from the bottom of the circle fired a shot on Jonah Imoo. The initial shot by Serratore was stopped but Ramsey was right there to force the rebound underneath the Merritt goalie before he was sent to the ice by a Cents’ defender.
  • However special teams, to me, was a main story line Saturday and I thought momentum shifted after a failed Vees power-play right after their opening goal. Jake Clifford took a penalty sixty-three seconds after Ramsey made it 1-0. The Vees were handed a great chance, right after scoring, to pad their lead. That power-play had a couple of OK looks but failed to really generate some energy/momentum. Sure enough the Cents’ killed off the minor infraction and shortly thereafter tied the game. I remember saying at the time, that you hope that missed opportunity wouldn’t come back and bite the Vees in the rear-end. But it did.
  • Salt in the wound eight-minutes after the Cents’ tied it, as they went ahead on a power-play goal. Salt in the wound because it was an undisciplined offensive zone penalty the Vees took that resulted in the 2-1 goal. No chance for Brendan Barry, who was making his first ever start in Merritt; a tough rink for any goalie, veteran or rookie. Shane Poulsen let go a cannon off a shot that rattled off the post and right to Diego Cuglietta at the side of the net for the tap-in. Salt in the wound because one, it was a bad penalty to take and two because Merritt quickly did something the Vees couldn’t do in that period: score on the power-play.
  • After what was a pretty decent road effort through forty-minutes, the Vees found themselves again down 2-1 heading into the third period. The only sore spot in that period and in the game for Penticton was their special teams. Yes, Merritt should be better on the power-play in their own rink, as they’re most comfortable with the spacing and know the lay of the land so to speak. But the Vees needed to adjust to the cramped confines, simplify their approach but didn’t. I just thought they weren’t operating with that killer instinct on the PP that we’ve seen recently from them. One too many passes in an arena that doesn’t let you be skilled; needed more rubber on net.
  •  The third period sure was fun. Demico Hannoun sure got the message, as he took the puck off the boards, wheeled into the high-slot and fired a laser into the top corner over Jonah Imoo to tie the game just fifty-three seconds into the third. Good for Hannoun, as he was the penalized player on the Merritt go-ahead power-play goal in the second; that’s how you respond. Conversing with Hannoun after the game, he admitted he wasn’t looking at the net when he fired that rocket of a wrist-shot. He said he took a glance but just wanted to get it on net and hoped for the best. Prayers answered. Classic Hannoun, as he wasn’t necessarily involved in the play for the first forty-minutes but took advantage of what he was given and scored his 16th. He’s the type of player that can turn the game on edge in a moments notice; he doesn’t need a dozen opportunities, just one. He’s like a veteran wide receiver in football. He may not have a catch or ball thrown to him for three and half quarters, but ends up catching the game-winning touchdown in the dying minutes and in double coverage. Demico Hannoun = Randy Moss?
  • The Vees showed some gull after they went behind again on another Merritt power-play goal. Diego Cuglietta scored again, as he cleaned up his own rebound in the crease. But as we discussed with Assistant Coach Steve Cawley in the post-game show, the Vees instead of wilting after the Merritt go-ahead goal, seized momentum and I thought carried the run of play. The new guys had their finger prints all over the third. First with Dakota Conroy  tying  the game, when he was first to a loose puck on the doorstep and slid in his first as a Vee to tie it at three; that three-minutes after Merritt went ahead. Then after a nice give-and-go rush with Riley Alferd, Connor Chartier scored the game-winner eight-minutes after Conroy tied it. The two newest Vees scoring back-to-back goals eight-minutes apart, to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Conroy then sealed the third period rally with his second of the game into an empty-net with forty-seconds left.
  • Just like on Friday, the Vees turned up the heat on the Cents in the third period and kept building up pressure and zone time that eventually led to the three goal outburst in the second half of the period. Conroy showed some great hands to pick up a deflected shot from the point and quickly spin it to his backhand for the 3-3 goal. Chartier also showed off his hands, with a quick snap-shot glove side on Jonah Imoo from the bottom of the left-circle. Two trades, two new players and they’ve made an immediate impact in the line-up. Once the scoring changes are submitted, Conroy will finish with two goals and Chartier with a goal and three points. Off the top of my head, I believe the two will have combined for three goals and eight points in three games. Saturday night’s game was the reason why the Vees picked up those two players. Tough environment, tough circumstances but they showed some poise and the team fed off of that.
  • The Chartier, Conroy performance that much more crucial given the Vees finished with 11 forwards, after Matt Serratore was injured in the second. Serratore went after a puck behind the Merritt net but got tangled with Jake Clifford and fell feet-first awkwardly into the end boards. Initial word is Serratore sustained a lower-body injury and will be reevaluated on Monday. Not sure the timetable of his injury or diagnosis but you’re hoping for the best and fearing the worst.. Serratore was in pretty good spirits on the bus ride home but you feel terrible for him, considering the start he’s had and the chemistry between him, Alferd and Ramsey. His injury was a bit of a rallying cry, as I was told a few players spoke up in the dressing room in the second intermission, saying they needed to win this one for “Serri.” Not sure if you can find a more likable, well-respected player than Serratore. Kid is an ace. On and off the ice, he does everything the right way.
  • Lost in the win was the performance of Brendan Barry, yeah that guy pictured at the top of the page. Barry stopped 24 of 27 and really buckled down in the third period when he needed to. Can’t fault him on any of the three goals and he handled himself really well in a very tough arena for goalies to play in. Barry dealt with a steady diet of traffic and opposition players swarming his crease but most importantly he didn’t lose his composure. A great moment for me was after the Merritt third goal, Barry barked at his defensemen after a miscue in front of the net. That shows some confidence, to pipe up, and it was warranted, and tell them what he thought; he’s growing more comfortable.
  • The Vees are now 3-1-0-0 when trailing after two periods and they’re showing a lot of poise. Not a team to get rattled, as they’ve shown they don’t get side-tracked when things aren’t going their way. Chalk up another character win for this team, in a season that has been full of them.

About CBeauchemin

Director of Broadcasting & Communication for the Penticton Vees
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