2nd Period Highlights
- The old 8-5 game eh? I bet everyone had that down for a prediction for game four between the Vees and Clippers, especially after these two teams played back-to-back 2-1 overtime games. Remember, the Vees were the top defensive team in the BCHL in the regular season and the Clippers were inside the top five in goals-against average. Tuesday was a shootout and you got that feeling as soon as the second period rolled around.
- Difference from winning and losing game four? Game management. The Vees won because they were able to manage their mistakes better than Nanaimo. Both teams had their share of gaffes and some of those led to goals but the Vees managed to mitigate the damage. After a tight-checking game three, Tuesday night was more open and frantic. Both teams had more room to make plays in open ice and there was more back-and-forth transition hockey compared to Monday’s contest. It made it entertaining for fans but it was giving the coaches grey hairs.
- Another big key? Composure. The Vees didn’t let themselves come unraveled, especially in the first period where they saw their early lead quickly evaporate. Remember, Steen Cooper had the Vees ahead 1-0 just shy of the two-minute mark but Nanaimo then scored twice in three-minutes to make it 2-1 midway through the first. The Vees could have easily said to themselves “here we go again,” and packed it in. They didn’t and rebounded and in a big way in the second.
- Staying with the composure theme, the Clippers took four penalties in the second period and the Vees scored twice on the power-play. Guillaume Decelles took two of those Clippers penalties and the Vees scored on a five-on-three after Nanaimo was assessed a bench minor. That five-on-three was critical, as the Vees were up just 3-2 at the time and the game was still up for grabs. Demico Hannoun scores from a tight angle and its 4-2 and you could see the slow boil coming from Nanaimo. The real kick in the gut for Nanaimo was the Cooper goal 41-seconds after Hannoun’s. Decelles was getting a penalty for contacting Cam Amantea at the side of the net and whilst he was protesting, Connor Chartier fired a dart across to an open Cooper at the side of the net. In 41-seconds the Vees went from having a one-goal advantage to a 5-2 lead.
- Was the officiating perfect? No, it wasn’t. I understand why Nanaimo and their fans were up in arms but it’s hard to argue the two penalties the Nanaimo goaltender took and the bench minor is what it is. Remember, the Clippers did catch a break when Ryan Forbes chopped Tyson Jost’s stick in half, which resulted in a turnover and led to the Clippers going the other way and Spencer Hewson scoring to make it 5-3 late in the second. There definitely were some borderline calls and some missed calls in game four but I think both teams were grouped in the category. Hey, I think the Clips’ had a legitimate beef on a couple of plays but so too did Penticton. Unfortunate that special teams had to dominate the storyline.
- Obviously the second period was a big turning point for the Vees, as they scored four unanswered to take a 5-3 lead into the intermission. Big because Nanaimo had outscored the Vees 4-2 in the second period, in games one through three but that was largely in part of the four-spot they hung on the Vees in game one; Penticton turned the tables in game four. Before game four, the Clippers were outscoring the Vees 7-4 in the first two periods. After game four the two teams have each scored eight goals in the first forty-minutes.
- Looking at individual performances, great to see Dakota Conroy pick up four assists, as he finally got rewarded for his strong play of late. He had a great outing in game three, picking up an assist on the Vees game-tying goal and now has five assists in the last two games. He was so crafty with the puck in game four and seemed to have eyes in the back of his head at times, the way he was timing drop passes and firing tape-to-tape passes off the rush. Conroy had four points and his line with Chartier and AP Jordy Bellerive finished with seven points. That second line acted like a shot in the arm for the Vees.
- Mike Lee finally got his first career BCHL playoff game. He thought he had it in game one but it was confusingly called back. On Tuesday, he makes good, blasting a slap-shot over Decelles’ shoulder on the power-play. The Vees have been working on that play, with Lee in the slot, he was close in game two but finally it clicked in game four; the water bottled popped too. Speaking of firsts, Bellerive scored his first career BCHL playoff goal in just his third playoff game. Great poise shown by the 15-year-old, rushing down the right-wing and with authority, he snaps the puck through the wickets of the Clippers’ goaltender. Bellerive now has two goals, as he scored his first ever BCHL in the regular season at the SOEC in a game against Trail. Not bad for a ’99 birth year. Bellerive playing in place of the injured DePourcq and that’s how to make a great impression.
- Specials teams have been a factor in all four games and the Vees again scored on the man-advantage. They have power-play goals in all four games of this series and are now 5-21 on the power-play in the series, which works out to be 23.81 %. That’s over a 10-percent jump on their playoff average going into game four (13.75 %). Don’t forget about the penalty-kill, which is 11-12 in the series, as the Clippers scored their first power-play goal of the series in the first period of game four. Special teams can take you a long way in the post-season and the Vees need more of the same heading into game five Thursday.
- It’s now a best-of-three, with games five and if necessary, game seven at home. Yes, the Vees dropped their first two home games of the series but you can bet they’re going to be hell bent on not letting that happen in game five. This is why the Vees pushed to get home-ice advantage in the playoffs, so they can try to capitalize in situations like the one we are now in. They’re 7-1-3 at home in the playoffs but were 24-3-1-0 at the SOEC this season. It’s now the first to two wins. Let the race begin.