I was tonight's BCHL game as Penticton defeated Vernon 6-2 in front of 1,934 fans at the Wesbild Centre.
Vernon: Kirby Halcrow
Penticton: Michael Garteig
1st Period: The Vees would get an early powerplay just fourty three seconds into the contest and make the Vipers pay. Former Trail Smoke Eaters forward, Travis St. Denis with a great chance in tight was stopped by Kirby Halcrow. Penticton who moves the puck well, with some nice tape to tape crisp passes setup captain Joey Benik in front giving the Vees a 1-0 lead at 2:13. Mike Reilly's shot was stopped by Halcrow who didnt move, as the puck shot back out front to Benik who was all alone and hit the easy empty cage for the Vees first goal. Reilly and Mario Lucia collected the helpers. Im not sure if Halcrow thought he had the puck or didnt see the rebound but the Vipers goaltender stood still as Benik hit the empty net. Just seconds later the Vipers would get their first powerplay of the evening, it took Vernon almost four minutes to record their first shot on goal as the Vipers penalty kill struggled against a strong Penticton Vees penalty kill. Vernon with three shots but not much of a powerplay as Penticton would kill off the minor. Just after the penalty kill Joey Benik and Cody Depourcq caught Vipers assistant captain Brett Corkey with a bad pinch giving the two Penticton forwards a two on zero, Benik would keep and shoot getting off a weak shot that was easily stopped by Halcrow. The Vipers would come right back with a good shift as Marcus Basara with some good hustle, powered his way towards the side of the net but couldnt get the puck up and over the pad of Michael Garteig who made a nice pad save on the Vipers first scoring opportunity of the game. The Vipers just didnt seem to show much emotion or intensity, as Vernon was caught standing around watching the Vees skate by them at times. Penticton on the other hand, was really skating and showing lots of hustle. Just shortly after Penticton would head back to the powerplay, moving the puck well the Vees setup Garrett Hendrickson who ripped a hard shot from the point that beat Kirby Halcrow but went off the post or crossbar as the Vees come very close to going ahead by two goals. Again some real nice passing by the Vees, moving the puck well put good pressure on the Vipers. Travis St. Denis with another good opportunity in front was stopped by Halcrow as the Vipers would kill off the minor. Vernon with several poor passes and passing attempts were coughing up the puck lots in the opening period. The Vees with several good scoring chances really took it to the Vipers as Penticton was by far the better team in the first half. In the second half Mike Zalewski ripped a nice shot from the circle but Michael Garteig with a nice quick glove save kept the Vipers off the board. Vernon seemed to pick up their game a little early in the second half getting a few solid shifts. Marcus Basara with his second opportunity of the night couldnt beat Garteig on a chance in close. The Vipers would get a late powerplay but shorthanded Travis St. Denis carrying the puck on an odd man rush couldnt create a decent scoring chance just before Brett Corkey would take a penalty as both teams played a little four on four. The Vees would get a late powerplay, just as the Vipers penalty come to an end Mike Reilly beat Halcrow at 17:12 giving Penticton a 2-0 lead. Steven Fogarty and Joey Benik with the assists. The Vees wernt done, in the final minute Curtis Loik skating down the left wing ripped a hard shot from the circle that beat Kirby Halcrow at 19:11 giving the Vees a 3-0 lead and in full control of this hockey game. Ryan Reilly with the lone assist on the play. Penticton with a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes of play. The Vees looked very good and got several good scoring opporunities outplaying the Vipers for most of the opening period. The Vipers who coughed up the puck several times, wernt skating or playing with alot of intensity were down three goals after just one period. Penticton outshot Vernon 12-10.
2nd Period: Off the opening faceoff the Vees worked the play deep into the Vipers zone, Penticton would try and setup Mario Lucia in front but Lucia couldnt connect on the pass on a great scoring chance in the opening minute. Back come the Vipers on the same play, Brett Corkey fed Mike Zalewski who ripped a hard shot coming down the right wing that beat Michael Garteig at 1:04 getting the Vipers on the board cutting the lead to within two goals. Corkey would draw the lone assist. Not alot of action at either ends of the rink for the next six or seven minutes as both teams couldnt seem to generate much offence. The play would go back and forth with not alot of good scoring plays. It took the Vees seven minutes to record their first shot on goal of the period. Vipers assistant captain, Aaron Hadley would take a high stick in the mouth-face area and left the ice heading straight to the Vipers dressing room. Hadley would miss most of the period but return later on. With the Vees being awarded a penalty Vernon still in control of the puck, would get Halcrow out for the extra attacker, the Vipers would setup Colton Sparrow who was all alone in front but the Vernon product missed on a great scoring opportunity. With the Vipers on the man advantage Vernon looked much better on the powerplay after struggling with the man advantage in the 1st period. With traffic in front of Garteig the Vipers with atleast two or three good shots from the point-slot area just missed the goal. The Vipers with some good pressure come close but couldnt hit the net. Late on the man advantage the Vees would get called for too many men, wich gave Vernon a short two man advantage. A gutsy penalty kill by the Vees would kill off one minor before Ryan Renz's point shot just missed the far corner. Marcus Basara then thought he got Vernon to within a goal after being robbed by Troy Stetcher who come across the crease with Garteig down and out of position, Stetcher come up with a huge shot block robbing Basara from a sure goal. The Vipers kept pressing, but Garteig had to be alert just getting a peice of Max Mowat's point shot with his trapper making a huge save keeping the Vipers off the board. Two real strong powerplays by Vernon but zero goals on the scoreboard after a huge penalty kill by the Vees. Vernon looked and played much better in the 2nd, the Vipers seemed to finally get their legs going and showing a little hustle. Vernon come close to making this a one goal game after a shot from the corner just about snuck through the pads of Michael Garteig who had to squeeze the pads tight as the puck sat very close to the goal line as the Vees would clear the crease and zone on a close call. Penticton who didnt generate much offence in the middle frame would get their second scoring opportunity of the night late in the period and capitalize after Travis St. Denis with a nice pass from behind the goal setup Connor Reilly in the slot who beat Halcrow at 17:15 giving Penticton a 4-1 lead. St. Denis and Mario Lucia would pick up the assists. Down two goals late in the 2nd the Vipers just cant afford to give up a late goal like this heading into the 3rd putting themselves down three goals. This goal seemed to give the Vees a little life as Penticton picked up their game and really pressed the Vipers hard, forcing them to turnover the puck, turnaround in their own end and have to re group not giving Vernon any time or space to try and come back with a late goal of their own to end the 2nd period. At the buzzer tempers heated up, as some pushing and shoving took place. Nick Buchanan and Ryan Renz exhcnaged words, as well as a few punches towards each other. Penticton with a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes of play. The Vipers with a better effort were the better of the two teams in the 2nd period but couldnt seem to get any puck luck or bounces. Two huge penalty kills by the Vees could have been the difference. Vernon with some great chances couldnt capitalize as shots were even 12-12.
3rd Period: Both Ryan Renz and Nick Buchanan would get misconducts to start the 3rd after their pushing and shoving match to end the 2nd period. Darren Nowick showed some good hustle off the opening draw, Nowick got the play in deep, just about lost the puck before re-gaining control and dishing off the puck out front where Michael Garteig made a nice save in close t keep this a three goal game. The Vipers with a few good shifts early couldnt seem to stop Pentictons offence, as the Vees would get the Vipers and Kirby Halcrow running around in their own end, with Halcrow going side to side Connor Reilly's shot missed the goal going off the back boards before Travs St. Denis picked up the rebound and beat Halcrow who was looking the other way giving Penticton a 5-1 lead at 4:20. Reilly with the only assist on the play. Just shortly after the Vees would get an early powerplay, and Kirby Halcrow would make his biggest save of the night getting his one pad down making a huge pad-leg save to keep the Vees off the board, this would be Penticton's only real good opportunity as a strong penalty kill by the Vipers would kill off the minor. It looked as if the Vees were sitting back to start the 3rd playing more of a defensive game in the first half. Vernon would get a shot with the man advantage and finally capitalize after a quick shot from the corner by Mike Zalewski who beat Garteig at 11:41 cutting the Vees lead to three goals. Max Mowat and John Knisley with the helpers. From here on in till the remainder of the final buzzer a slew of penalties were handed out as the Vipers frustration started to show taking some undisaplined penalties. Adam Tambellini tripped up Michael Garteig wich could have started something as Penticton's Cody Depourcq gave a Viper a shot with his stick in the middle of a scrum behind the Vernon goal as tempers once again heated as a small line brawl broke loose with several players throwing punches at one another. Colton Sparrow and one Vees player were wrestling each other to the ice as the game got real chippy in the second half of the 3rd. After all of the chippy play, Mike Zalewski with a hard shot from the circle beat Garteig fivehole but a Vees d-man would hustle back and clear the puck from the crease before it crossed the goal line on a close call. Marcus Basara then thought he had another goal but Garteig who was down and out made a huge glove save off Basara in close on wich looked like a sure goal. The Vees with a late two man advantage made the Vipers pay after Troy Stetcher's point shot beat Kirby Halcrow at 18:17 giving Penticton a 6-2 lead, Steven Fogarty and Travis St. Denis with the assists. I thought St. Denis tipped Stetcher's point shot in past Halcrow, but I guess I was wrong. In the final minute of play some more pushing and shoving as the Vipers lost their cool as frustration showed taking a few jabs-punches at several Penticton players. A wild 3rd period as in the end the Vees would move three points up on the 2nd place Vipers with a huge 6-2 victory. Penticton outshot Vernon 15-11.
Top Players: (Vernon)
Mike Zalewski (2 goals) Was enemy number one tonight for the Penticton Vees. Zalewski who last weekend in Penticton was exchanging words with several Vees players as well as getting into some pushing and shoving matches was doing the exact samething tonight. Zalewski who scored twice was getting involved after the whistle as the Vees looked to be trying to get the Vipers all-star off his game. I thought Zalewski played fairly well this evening, didnt really stand out but played fairly well up front for the Vipers.
Darren Nowick showed and played with alot of hustle and intensity.
Marcus Basara was the Vipers best player this evening, Basara who has really come to play the last few games showed alot of jump, was really flying out their tonight. Really used his wheels and had some good scoring chances.
Luke Juha was Vernon's best d-man. Coughed up the puck once but overall was very steady for the Vipers. Really reads and see's the ice-play, very smooth skating d-man who likes to carry the puck.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
After starting the regular season 7-0, the Vipers have now dropped three straight being outscored 16-5 in those three games. For the second straight game the Vees have defeated the Vipers 6-2 in one week. Forward Peter McMullen made his Vipers debut tonight. I didnt think the Vipers were ready or come to play tonight, atleast to start the game. Vernon who was caught standing around alot in the opening period was watching the Vees do all the work. The Vipers who needed to get off to a good start, didnt and they had to try and battle back all night. The Vipers with some very poor passes and passing attempts through out tonights game, coughed up the puck on several occasions. The team didnt seem to have much jump-intensity off the opening faceoff or through out the opening period. I didnt think Vernon was skating until they picked up their game in the 2nd period but by then they were down three goals. The powerplay didnt look very good in the 1st but looked much better, coming up with some good chances in the 2nd. The team didnt get off to the start they wanted and didnt look very good tonight. The Vipers just didnt look sharp and disorganized at times, especially in the opening period. Vernon needs to get off to a better start vs a team like Penticton, they dont want to go down early and then have to try and claw their way back. I thought Vernon looked and played alot better in the 2nd, scoring early and then had some great chances with a few back to back powerplays couldnt capitalize. Atleast one goal on one of the powerplays and its a one goal game but they dont score and then give up a late 2nd period goal put the game away, as I thought this was a turning point in the hockey game. Even though its early tonight was a big first place showdown and I just didnt think the Vipers played or looked that good. The Vipers havnt been the same team since captain Patrick McGillis went down with an injury. Vernon needs to re group and get ready for tomorrow nights game in Trail and then head right back home for an afternoon game vs Prince George. Trail with a huge win over Penticton Wednesday wont be easy and PG who sits in 3rd place is playing some real good hockey and wont be a pushover, so it wont be an easy weekend for the Vipers. Former Vernon Vipers forward, Sawyer Mick was in attendance tonight as well as former Vipers captain, Lennie Rampone.
Top Players: (Penticton)
Mike Reilly (1 goal & 1 assist) Played very well for the Vees on the backend. Wasnt afraid to jump up into the play either.
Joey Benik (1 goal & 1 assist) The Vees captain was all over the ice tonight, looking very impressive. Benik played with alot of energy, looked very good in the opening period, creating and generating some scoring chances as well as not afraid to play physical.
Cody Depourcq not the biggest kid but played with alot of energy and jump.
Connor Reilly (1 goal & 1 assist) Was very good up front for the Vees. Can really skate, move the puck and has some nice hands.
Mario Lucia (2 assists) I thought Lucia played a real strong game for Penticton, another kid that can skate well, move the puck and very nice hands.
Travis St. Denis (1 goal & 2 assists) Was all over the ice, St. Denis really played well up front for the Vees. This kid was flying tonight, played very well at both ends of the rink, really reads the ice and plays well, very smart hockey player. Caught the Vipers and Kirby Halcrow looking the other way after scoring a nice goal early in the 3rd. Was also good on the penalty kill and powerplay.
Troy Stetcher (1 goal) Played very well on the Vees blueline, looked very strong defensively. Made a huge shot block off Marcus Basara on a sure goal and then come up with two big shot blocks in the 3rd period. Showed alot of heart and character tonight.
Michael Garteig (31 saves) Played very well between the pipes for the Penticton Vees. Garteig made a few big saves through out tonights contest. Your goaltender has to be your best penalty killer and Garteig come up with some big saves with Vernon on the powerplay keeping this a two goal game at the time.
Game Thoughts: (Penticton)
After four straight losses at the Wesbild Centre the Penticton Vees would pick up their first victory in Vernon since a 4-1 win back on Friday, December 4th 2009. After last weekends 6-2 Vees win I wasnt overly impressed but after watching Penticton play for a second time tonight, this team is very good. Fred Harbinson so far has put together a mixture of a very good-skilled hockey club. The Vees can skate, move the puck well and have some nice crisp passing. A very strong looking powerplay as well as a pretty good penalty kill unit. This team can score and seem to score often. Penticton is very dangerous with the puck in the offensive zone and looked very good defensively too. The Vees will make you pay if you make one mistake. The Vees who showed lots of emotion and jump early got off to the quick start and looked like a hungry team wanting to win. The Vipers cant get off to a bad or slow start against a team like this or they will be playing catchup hockey for the remainder of the game. If the Vees score early they seem to be hard to try and come back against. I thought the Vees played and looked very strong tonight, they outworked and outhustled the Vipers to loose pucks and won alot of the races. Coming off a 4-3 loss in Trail Wednesday the Vees come into Vernon with something to prove and now head home three points up on 1st place. Give the Vees full credit, they come into a building they havnt had much sucess in over the last two years or so and come away with a huge 6-2 victory on the road. Nice to see a fan bus of Penticton fans make the trip up. I really like the look of the Vees new away jerseys. I said last year Penticton needed some blue in their road uniforms, wich they added this season making for a sharp looking away jersey.
Patrick McGillis (Injured)
Nick Amies (Injured)
Logan Johnston (Suspended)
Vipers energy player of the game: Colton Sparrow
1st Star: Travis St. Denis (1 goal & 2 assists)
2nd Star: Mike Zalewski (2 goals)
3rd Star: Mario Lucia (2 assists)
For more on tonight's game check out the boxscore,