(Highlight reel goal by Lewis Zerter-Gossage in the 1st period)
- Fair to say both teams thought they left a goal or two on the table and it’s fair to say both teams thought they could have come away with a win. Both teams should be satisfied with the point too. Entertaining hockey game, maybe one of the most entertaining hockey games this season, as the Vees and Silverbacks played to a rare 2-2 tie. How rare? First tie this season for the Vees and first since October 19th of last season, when they tied Langley 1-1. That game was also on the road and the goaltender of record for the Vees was Hunter Miska too. If you’re scoring at home, that’s 76 regular season games between draws for the Vees. Surprisingly, that’s the ‘Backs third tie already this season, as that was their ninth game to go past regulation.
- The main story, outside of the entertainment value, was the play of both goalies. Miska was superb in net for the Vees and his counterpart at the other end of the rink wasn’t too shabby either. Miska had to face more shots (36 to 32) but Angus Redmond, like Miska, was a major reason why his team got at least one point. You know both goalies are playing well when they are two of the three stars and only allow a combined four goals on 68 shots (.941 combined save-percentage). The most telling stat would be one I don’t have readily available and that’s even-strength grade ‘A’ save-percentage. That stat calculates the goaltenders save-percentage on even-strength (five-on-five) scoring chances. The bench mark for a good goalie is around 73, 75 percent and up. I would venture a guess that both goalies were over 75 percent on grade ‘A’ save-percentage. A grade ‘A’ chance for is a bit different based on each teams interpretation of what a grade ‘A’ is. Usually teams look at attempts from the top of the circles down to the net and on the inside of the two face-off circles towards the middle; that’s your rough grade ‘A’ area. Basically, I would say both Miska and Redmond stopped quite a few shots in these areas.
- Miska did everything he could, except physically score the over-time winner for the Vees. Very confident and collected all night, as he made challenging saves look routine time after time. When Miska is “dialed in” he’s very economical with his movement, as he isn’t sliding around all over the place. That’s what you saw tonight, a goaltender that was rarely out of position (was he even tonight?). Another tell is his body language, especially after whistles. There were a good chunk of shots tonight that Miska gave the impression he could have stopped them in his sleep. Even Salmon Arm off-ice officials that sit in the press box with me were raving about his post-game.
- So what was Miska’s best save on Friday? Well, his best moment came when I don’t think he ever actually touched the puck. On Chase Priskie’s double-overtime penalty-shot, Miska didn’t make contact with the puck nor did he have to. Priskie faked the slap-shot but Miska didn’t fall for it and then closed the angle down quickly and that caused Priskie to fumble the puck into the corner. Miska showed a bit of a poke-check and at the same time, swung out his left pad and those two things got Priskie crossed up. Another excellent Miska save came earlier in the three-on-three overtime, when he stopped Cole McCaskill three times. McCaskill’s first attempt from the slot was stopped, then Miska jammed he pad against the post and stopped McCaskill twice more trying to force the puck past Miska’s pad at the post.
- At the other end of the ice, Redmond battled all night in the Salmon Arm crease and most importantly, when the ‘Backs were down 2-0, Redmond didn’t allow a third to squeak by. A sign of a quality goaltender is when he knows to shut the door and Redmond displayed that Friday. After an early second period power-play goal against (which went off his own defenseman), Redmond kept the Vees at bay long enough for his team to score in the final two periods to get the game to overtime. In my opinion, Redmond’s best save was off of Patrick Newell in the third. Newell got a lot on a quick shot from the slot and in the dying minutes of a 2-2 game but Redmond slid across and with his glove arm. just got enough of the puck to force it out of play.
- Tonight marked the first game for the Vees without four regulars who are at the World Junior ‘A’ Challenge in Saskatchewan. Tonight’s roster played considerably well and there were a few players who were taxed with high minutes and they responded. Hey, a make-shift power-play unit did score the team’s first power-play goal in four games, when Dakota Conroy made it 2-0. Remember, Bast, Fabbro, Hannoun and Jost all play the Vees power-play and they were absent.
- Speaking of extra minutes, I though Mike Lee and Jarod Hilderman responded very well to the extra ice time they were challenged with. Those two easily played over 30 minutes each tonight and quite possibly north of 35 when you factor in OT. You could see some fatigue wash over them and others, when the game got into the last bit of the second overtime; gas tank was on ‘E’. Outside of some tired legs, Lee and Hilderman ate up big time minutes when the team needed them to. The pair played in all situations and contributed to some offensive opportunities. The best came from Hilderman, when he threw a great no-look slap pass down low to Newell. Newell missed the net on the tip but he was being harassed on the play. Encouraging to see Lee and Hilderman rise to the occasion
- Patrick Sexton and Miles Gendron also turned in solid performances, as they worked well in their own end, retrieving pucks and then quickly getting them out of their zone. Gendron showed some of his trademark skating ability but most of his heavy lifting was done in his end. Newcomer Shayne Gwinner had his struggles at times, as he played his first game of the year; tough to jump into the mix when you’ve been out for a while. But in saying that, Gwinner will have another day to prepare and get the feel of things before Sunday rolls around; work through the rust.
- Can’t not talk about the Silverbacks Andrew Farny. Named the first star tonight, despite not picking up a single point, which goes to show you how well he played. Farny, who has over 30 points for the ‘Backs, was most impressive in his own zone-for me. Farny’s offense gets a lot of attention and rightfully so, but his ability to physically separate forwards from the puck was impressive. Remember, Farny is less than six feet tall but he was great in front of his own net. I was thinking out loud on the broadcast if Farny would be one of the three stars. Nice to know my lobbying had rubbed off.
- Also I can’t pass up a chance to talk about Lewis Zerter-Gossage. His game tonight was terrific, some of the best hockey he’s played in a while. He scored a highlight reel goal in the first, video at the top, and was just a threat all night. He used his reach and size to protect the puck but also showed off those hands with his first period goal.
- Solid effort and no game Saturday gives the players another opportunity to fine-tune before Sunday’s clash with the streaking Chilliwack Chiefs.
- Looking forward to two Vees announcing their college commitments tomorrow. Both very deserving. Stay tuned.