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Vees denied by Grizzlies goaltending at home
Penticton Vees captain Brad McClure had enough chances pop a hat trick against the Victoria Grizzlies Saturday night.
Instead of having his goal total jump to 40 for the season, McClure remains at 37 as the Vees lost 3-1 to the Grizzlies in the South Okanagan Events Centre in front of 2,077 fans.
McClure, who was still half dressed in his equipment while some of his teammates were already in suits, was disappointed by the final result, especially because he felt they outplayed the Grizzlies most of the night.
"There was a lot of chances we need to bear down on," said McClure. "I think that's our biggest struggle right now. We're not putting the puck in the net when we need to, especially myself.
"You get that many chances in a game you think you're going to finish on one," continued McClure, who deked out Grizzlies goalie Nic Renyard but his backhand attempt went slightly wide, then was denied on two breakaways by the former Vees netminder. "It's tough right now, but you just got to stay positive."
The Vees opened the scoring at 4:06 on a goal by Riley Alferd. That lead lasted until the 13:07 mark when Myles Fitzgerald made the Vees pay for a Too Many Men on the ice penalty. The puck made it's way to Fitzgerald, who fired a shot past Hunter Miska. Fitzgerald then added his second of the game 5:45 into the second period when he was able to cut across the crease and beat Miska. The Grizzlies third goal came after Miska made a save, but the Vees defence wasn't able to clear the puck. Gerry Fitzgerald's shot ricocheted near the crease and went right to his brother Leo, who buried the shot into the open cage.
Vees coach Fred Harbinson said he wasn't going to be hard on his player since they were playing hard. He added that scoring a goal in each of the last two games is not enough, but that was also a result of great goaltending.
"When you only score one goal you have to be close to perfect," he said. "Tonight we take a too many men on the ice penalty and it ends up hurting us. We ice one and we get caught with the wrong line match and it hurts us. We have to find a way to score more than one goal."
Renyard put on a strong performance turning aside 28 shots for his 14th win of the season. He pumped his fist in the air when the game was over.
"It was really exciting," said Renyard. "They have beat us twice this year, so we kind of owed them one. It's nice to get it in front of the great fans here."
Renyard admitted to having some fear the first time McClure broke in on him, but the second time he was confident, especially because he knew some of the forwards' tendencies.
"He's a great shooter so, got lucky a little bit, but it was awesome that I shut him down," said Renyard, adding the win was one of the Grizzlies best of the season.
McClure on Renyard: "He's a good goalie. You have to respect that. I just need to bear down on my chances."
During the first period, Vees forward Travis Blanleil was hurt on a knee-on-knee play. He did not return as he walked with a slight limp.
The Vees are now 32-15-2-4 after losing both games this weekend and are tied with West Kelowna for first-place. Both teams have officially clinched playoff berths and meet Tuesday night in West Kelowna.
Vees notes: A yellow ribbon with #DIFJ is on the back of the Vees' helmets. Harbinson said it's for team pastor Jamie Weberg, who was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer. "He's got a young family. He's been working with our team the last three years. Been a huge part of the Vees family." The Vees are also planning on doing a fundraiser during their game against the Trail Smoke Eaters next Friday for support Weberg's family. The Vees are releasing more information on that early in the week.