- Sunday was just one of those days for the Vees. Their third game in two and a half days and travelling from Powell River first thing Sunday morning; not much left in the tank. Hey, not taking anything away from the Bulldogs, as they played as consistent as a team can for 60-minutes but the Vees energy level did dip in the final 30-minutes and that’s when mistakes crept in, and that resulted in untimely goals against.
- Despite all that, the first two periods were pretty fluid. I was surprised how much jump the Vees had early, as both teams played a pretty fast-paced first period. There wasn’t much whistles and both teams got all four lines involved. Despite the 12 shots on net by the Vees and seven by Alberni Valley, the scoring chances were few and far between in the first 20-minutes. The Vees best opportunity early was a Jack Ramsey shot from the left-wing circle and Alberni’s best opportunity came off the stick of their Captain Mitch Makin, but Brendan Barry made an excellent pad save in-close.
- Speaking of goaltenders, the Bulldogs Billy Christopoulos put on a clinic, as he stopped all 37 shots he faced, including all 16 in the third period when the Vees put on the full court press. Christopoulos didn’t have to make many “spectacular” saves because he was rarely out of position, but he did have an eye-popping glove save on Patrick Newell early in the third period. Down 2-0 and on a power-play, the Vees had the extra-skater out, yes they pulled the goalie five-minutes into the third, and Newell had a chance at the side of the net. It appeared to be an open net but Chirstopoulos slid across and got an arm on Newell’s one-timer. Christopoulos was stopping everything he was seeing Sunday and the one thing I will say, is the Vees had trouble getting to the net for secondary chances. They had traffic on the power-play but at even strength, Christopoulos had a lot of clean looks at shots and a goaltender of his caliber is going to stop what he sees. Give some credit to his defenseman, as the Dogs blue-liners boxed out very well.
- Brendan Barry might get lost in the Bulldogs win but the Vees 17-year-old puck-stopper was very good. He was at his best in the second period, when he stopped all 12 ‘Dogs shots, including making a flurry of shoulder saves on point-shots by Brett Stewart, during a Alberni Valley power-play. Barry had that great stop in the first on Makin and his positioning and rebound control was on point. Lets be honest, Barry was hung out to dry on the two Bulldogs goals he surrendered. The first was 10-seconds into the third, when the puck was turned over at the Vees blue-line, giving Chris Schutz an uncontested lane to the net. The other was a turnover behind the net, which resulted in Dylan Haugen banking the puck of a Vee defenseman and in. I feel for Barry, who took the loss despite 27 saves on 29 shots; no run support. But Sunday was a big confidence booster for him after being pulled in his last start on January 30th; that wasn’t reflective of his play either. Barry was battling the flu all weekend, so to see him play that well Sunday was even more impressive.
- The Vees achillies heel this weekend and Sunday? The power-play. In a tight-checking game like yesterday, the Vees were going to need a power-play goal to get a win. They came up empty on six attempts and even tried pulling the goalie early in the third period on their last two man-advantages to create a spark. I’ve never seen that before, having the extra-skater out with 15-minutes left in the game but I loved it. Why not? Down 2-0, last game on a long weekend and the power-play was stale before that. Disappointing the power-play couldn’t get on the scoreboard but I think the struggles were simply due to fatigue. But in saying that, the PP has been on a cold spell of late, as the Vees haven’t scored a power-play goal in six games. In fact, after scoring a power-play goal on their first attempt on January 23rd, against Merritt, they’ve gone 0-21 since. Sunday they were tired but also trying to make that one extra pass and that got them in trouble. Assistant Coach Steve Cawley said post-game the PP will be worked on in practice this week; time to make some adjustments. I think we will see a simpler approach on the power-play in the Vees next three games this week.
- Great atmosphere Sunday in Port Alberni, as almost 1,200 fans packed Weyerhaeuser arena. That’s very impressive considering the place only seats 1,850. With its design, the 1,189 that were there Sunday had the place rocking when the ‘Dogs scored; they have one of the loudest horns in the BCHL too. Port Alberni is one of the best hockey towns in the BCHL and they have some of the nicest staff. Their volunteer base are some of the nicest and most accommodating people you’ll find in the league. I always have a great experience when visiting with the Vees.