-Can’t blame the Vees for feeling a bit frustrated when they woke up Sunday morning. You can argue they’ve had the Lions share of chances and out played Nanaimo in the first two games but find themselves in an 0-2 hole in the series. The one thing that is troubling this team right now is the lack of finish in scoring areas. Granted the biggest culprit for that is Nanaimo Clippers goaltender Guillaume Decelles.
-The 6 ‘3 Quebec product has been the story early, as he’s now stopped 73 of 76 Vees shots through two games; a pedestrian .961 save-percentage. Decelles is big and uses that to his full advantage as he keeps getting a part of his body in front of the puck. He covers a lot of the net down low and seems to always find a way to make a save.
-So how do the Vees get pucks past Decelles? Got to take his eyes away and get a ton of bodies to the net. Decelles covers the bottom of the net so well, spreading out the pads, so the Vees are going to have to get the puck up and get the goalie moving.
-Let’s make this very clear: The Vees aren’t losing because of a lack of effort and or compete level. They worked their butt off last night and in game one. They fired 20 shots on net in 1st last night and 18 over the last two periods. That 18 more impressive considering how tight the checking it was over the final 40 minutes. Tons of puck possession and zone time. Still knocking on the door. Time to knock it down in game three.
-Panic? Not from this group. They’ve been in this spot before and came up with back-to-back wins. Remember they were down 3-2 to Vernon and staved off elimination not once but twice. Game six they strolled into a sold-out Kal-Tire Place in Vernon and posted a 5-1 win. 24 hours later they gutted out a 2-0 win in game seven at home. Yes, there’s a sense of urgency now but this group seems to thrive when they’re under the gun.
-By no means is this a for gone conclusion. Nanaimo certainly doesn’t think that and they’ve been up 2-0 in each of their first two series, only to see those go the distance. Heck, they were up 3-0 on Alberni Valley before the dogs forced a game seven.
-Have to again credit Nanaimo for being a plucky bunch. They’ve been pushed back on their heels twice now but found a way to withstand the Vees pressure and pull out two wins, in arguably the toughest building for road teams. Before this series started the Clippers were just 1-6 away from Frank Crane Arena. As a franchise they only had one win at the SOEC since it opened in September of 2008. Pretty big weekend for them. They’re 9-1 at home in the post-season so they’ll be feeling pretty good about themselves after this weekend.
-That “second goal” has been pretty elusive for the Vees. Maybe the reason why they’re not tied 1-1 or even up 2-0. In both game one and two the Vees scored first in the first but couldn’t get the next one. That ultimately allowed Nanaimo to linger around and eventually tie both games. 35 shots for the Vees in the first period of games one and two but just two goals. Both nights they opened the scoring but Nanaimo tied it late. Going into game three, it’s not just about getting a lead but building on it. The Vees need to give themselves some breathing room.
– A lot of people are asking about the health of Cody DePourcq but all I can say he won’t be making the trip to Nanaimo for games three and four. Head Coach Fred Harbinson told the Penticton Herald after the game the Co-Captain would “be out for awhile” but there’s no official diagnosis on his injury. He took a shot, pretty much point-blank, right in the mouth / jaw area. It was scary looking. Awful luck for the 19 -year-old and Penticton native who’s in his final season of junior hockey. Wishing for the best.
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