For anyone who could not attend or watch tonight’s Vipers game here are my thoughts and views from tonight’s game. You may agree or disagree but we all have our own view and opinion on any game we watch. This is my opinion and my thoughts on how I saw tonight’s game. I try to be unbiased and give a fare recap on both sides. Thanks for stopping by & visiting my blog.
I was at tonight's BCHL game as Vernon defeated Merritt 4-0 in front of 1,656 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Austin Smith
Merritt: Devin Kero
1st Period: The Vipers got off to a quick start, Chase McMurphy off the opening faceoff with a great chance in the close couldnt beat Devin Kero as Vernon with two early shots had some good pressure in the opening minute of play. The Centennials would get the games first powerplay, getting an early man advantage just over three minutes into the contest. Merritt with three shots had some good pressure but couldnt capitalize as Vernon would kill off the penalty. Both teams were very evenly matched for most of the first period. Very little scoring chances in the first half at both ends of the rink. Just past the midway mark the Vipers would get their first powerplay of the night. With some good puck movement Vernon created and generated several good scoring opportunities. Michael McNicholas at the side of the net fanned on a nice pass through the slot as Vernon come close to opening the scoring. The Vipers with a good powerplay couldnt find the back of the net as the Cents would kill off the minor. Jason Bird would take a puck to the face but would stay in the game, getting back on the ice his next shift. Just after the penalty kill Merritt would get their first scoring opportunity of the night after Austin Smith come out to challenge making a big save off Malik Kaila. Michael McNicholas would get his second opportunity of the night redirecting a shot from in close just wide of the net. Liam Coughlin then getting a good chance in close couldnt beat Devin Kero in tight. Vernon would get their second powerplay of the game late to finish the period. Colton Sparrow would open the scoring after setting up Chase McMurphy at the side of the net, Sparrow's pass went in and off Kero into the back of the net giving the Vipers a 1-0 lead at 16:09 Riley Guenther and Josh Bryan collected the helpers. This goal seemed to give Vernon some momentum as the Vipers stepped up their game and really carried the edge in play for the final few minutes. Michael Statchuk driving hard to the net put a nice move in close was stoned by Kero who made a huge save down low late keeping this a one goal game. Vernon was up 1-0 after 20 minutes of play. This was a good opening period by both teams. Both teams were fairly even for most of the period but the Vipers with the lone goal seemed to take it too Merritt for the final few minutes and were the better of the two teams late. Vernon had more scoring opportunities. The Vipers outshot the Centennials 12-7.
2nd Period: The Cents come out with a strong forecheck to start the middle frame, really taking it to Vernon early working the puck hard along the boards the Centennials controlled the early edge in play as the Vipers got off to a bit of a slow start couldnt get their legs going and had troubles getting out of their own end. Merritt with a good forecheck early was really working and battling hard but couldnt get pucks to the net before Dexter Dancs and Daniel Nachbaur dropped the gloves. Nachbaur would be called for the aggressor in the scrap giving Vernon an early powerplay. Demico Hannoun with Vernon's only shot on the man advantage come late on a good chance from in close. Hannoun's quick shot from the circle forced Cents starting goaltender Devin Kero to quickly shut the fivehole making a big save off Hannoun in the dying seconds of the powerplay as Merritt would kill off the minor. The Centennials would head right back to the penalty box giving the Vipers back to back powerplays. With a very good penalty kill Merritt would kill off both penalties as the Vipers struggled offensively. But just seconds after the powerplay Michael Statchuk setup Demico Hannoun with a quick release beat Devin Kero from the slot giving Vernon a 2-0 lead at 6:39 Statchuk with the lone assist on the goal. This goal seemed to give the Vipers some jump-meomnetum as Vernon started getting the offence rolling as just a minute and a half later Demico Hannoun setup Chase McMurphy on a two on one giving the Vipers a 3-0 lead at 8:08 Hannoun and Colton Sparrow collected the assists. And just over two minutes later Hannoun would record his second of the night from the high slot giving Vernon a 4-0 lead at 10:16 Hannoun's goal was unassisted. The Vipers with three goals in three and a half minutes busted this game wide open. On the next shift Vipers starting goaltender Austin Smith made his first save of the period after making a quick glove save off Sebastien Pare as the Cents needed almost eleven minutes for their first shot of the period. On the play Merritt would get their first of two back to back powerplays and Smith had to be sharp making a tough save down low with bodies in and around the blue paint Smith gobbled up the loose puck to stop the play. Smith with a few good saves after some pressure by the Cents but Vernon's penalty kill was very good killing off both penalties. Late in the period Sebastien Pare with a nice move in close made one too many moves couldnt finish missing the net on a great chance before Logan Mick come back the other got inbehind the Merritt defence going in for the parcial breakaway was hacked down giving Vernon a late powerplay. The Vipers couldnt capitalize as Merritt would kill off the minor. At the buzzer tempers heated up as a scrum formed in behind the Centennials net as some pushing and shoving occurred before the scrum was broken up. The Vipers were up 4-0 after 40 minutes of play. I thought Merritt come out strong, with a hard forecheck had the Vipers hemned in deep in their own end but couldnt get pucks to the net before taking back to back minors seemed to take the wind out of their sails. Vernon didnt score on either of the two powerplays but found the back of the net just seconds after the second man advantage scoring three quick goals in less then four minutes changing the game in a hurry. I thought the Vipers really played well in the second before the Centennials come out strong late in the final five or so minutes but couldnt capitalize with two late powerplays. Vernon outshot Merritt 11-10.
3rd Period: The Cents would get an early powerplay just 1:04 into the final frame and it looked like Merritt got on the scoreboard on a strange play. A quick hard low shot from the circle looked to have beat Austin Smith as the puck sounded like it hit the post but it also looked like the puck found its way into the back of the net before coming straight back out into play. With no call from either referee or argument from the Cents or Centennials bench the play continued. The Cents with some good pressure generated several chances as Smith had to be sharp making several key saves, but Vernon would kill off the minor. With Vernon up by four goals the Vipers took their foot off the gas as Merritt still playing with some edge kept battling away as the Centennials who were working hard carried the edge in play. Austin Smith was fairly busy making some good saves early and often. The Vipers with very little offence in the third would get a man advantage just before the halfway mark but couldnt find the back of the net as Merritt would kill off the penalty. Just under five minutes remaining Liam Coughlin would get sent in for the breakaway, going shortside missed the net on his third opportunity of the night. On the next shift another scrum would gather as both teams started pushing and shoving. Jared Wilson and Rhett Willcox would both leave the game after picking up two minor penalties each. Tempers heated up in the final few minutes as Kenny Citron and Cents captain Payton Schaefer would both get the boot after both getting unsportsmanlike conducts. Late in the game Diego Cuglietta with a great chance to spoil Smith's shutout couldnt beat the Vernon goaltender on a wrap around. In the final minute Mark Hamilton and Sam Johnson dropped the mits as both players were tossed from the game. At the buzzer a crowd gathered in and around Devin Kero and the Centennials net before some pushing and shoving occurred as tempers heated up once again. Both referees and linesmen were forced to break up the scrum as the Vipers would come away with the 4-0 victory. Merritt carried the better of the play as Vernon with a four goal lead took their foot off the gas. Austin Smith with several good saves was busy in the third period. The Vipers with a hard fought victory were outshot 14-13.
Top Players: (Vernon)
Josh Bryan (1 assist) Played very strong on the Vipers blueline. I thought Bryan was very good at both ends of the rink. Was very steady on the backend and was good with and without the puck in the offensive zone.
The line of Colton Sparrow (1 goal & 1 assist), Demico Hannoun (2 goals & 1 assist) & Chase McMurphy (1 goal) was very good for Vernon. This line played very well together, has some good chemistry, seemed to know where one another were at all times, really clicked in the second period getting in on all three goals.
The line of Logan Mick, Tyler Povolofskie and TJ Dumonceaux was the Vipers hardest working unit tonight. This line played very well this evening, creating and generating alot of energy, jump and played with a bit of an edge. Saw lots of ice in the third, even got out on the powerplay. These three kids were banging and crashing all game.
Jason Bird who has been struggling latley really stepped up his game tonight playing very solid on the blueline. Bird played very well at both ends of the rink, was very good with and without the puck. Kept things simple was skating hard, moving the puck well.
Austin Smith (31 saves-shutout) Has really stepped up his game the last three games. Giving up just three goals in his last three games Smith was less then a minute away from a shutout in Trail last weekend played very well tonight. Smith who didnt see alot of action in the first two periods saw his most rubber in the third was busy making several key saves through out the final period. Played with alot of confidence and played his position well. Didnt give out alot of rebounds, just about got caught out of his net twice but recovered.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
After three straight one goal games vs Merritt (1 win and two losses) I thought the Vipers made a statement tonight, showing they are going to be one of the top teams this season and are going to be hard to play against. Vernon with a hard fought 4-0 victory move back into first place in a very tight Interior Division after a 5-4 Langley win in Penticton tonight. I thought the Vipers played very well tonight and fully deserved the win. All four lines contributed, playing very well. Going into the 2nd this could have been anyone's game but the Vipers with three quick goals less then four minutes apart opened the game wide open. I liked Vernon's penalty kill and thought the Vipers powerplay looked good at times even though they went 1-7. Ive really noticed a difference in Vernon's passing and breakout. The Vipers defensive play has also come along way and seems to be getting better. This team seems to play with alot more chemistry-team unity compared to the past two seasons. The Vipers also showed Merritt they wernt going to back down from the rough stuff and answered the bell when needed too. A big win-big two points in a big two game homestand this weekend before hitting the Coast for a three game trip next weekend.
Top Players: (Merritt)
Dane Birks played steady on the Merritt defence.
Diego Cuglietta was one of the Centennials hardest working players tonight. Cuglietta is quick on his feet, always moving, was always involved in the play. Generated and created a few opportunities, played with alot of jump ad energy.
Sebastien Pare another hard working kid who played very well and was the Cents best player tonight. Pare was very hard to knock off the puck, good skater, also generated and created some chances was very good down low and along the wall. Played with lots of energy, had some jump in his game tonight.
Game Thoughts: (Merritt)
The Cents have now dropped back to back games head back home to face league leading Powell River tomorrow night. I thought Merritt played well in the opening frame stayed with the Vipers even though down 1-0 on a late powerplay goal. The Centennials with a great start to the second period couldnt capitalize after a strong forecheck took back to back minors before giving up three goals in less then four minutes. The Cents look dejected and just couldnt seem to get back on pace. I thought Luke Pierce needed to call a timeout after Vernon's third goal to try and settle down the boys. Give Merritt credit they didnt quit, they come on strong late to finish the 2nd period but couldnt capitalize with two late powerplays. Down four goals to start the third is tough but the Centennials plugged away getting several chances but couldnt beat Austin Smith. It looked to me that Merritt scored an early powerplay goal to start the third but nobody seemed to notice it. A quick low-hard shot from the circle looked to have beat Austin Smith but the puck made a sound like it hit the post but come right back out very quickly with no stoppage in play. I was surprised the Merritt bench or any players on the ice didnt react or say anything. Both referees didnt even make any kind of a call on the ice. One fellow who sits in front of me was standing at the top f the stairs waiting for a whistle to come back to his seat, said the puck went in. With the loss the Centennials fall to 3rd place.
Mason Blacklock (Injured)
Brendan Persley (Injured)
Ryan Renz (Injured)
Energy player of the game:
1st Star: Demico Hannoun (2 goals & 1 assist)
2nd Star: Riley Guenther (1 assist)
3rd Star: Austin Smith (31 saves-shutout)
For more on tonight's game visit the BCHL boxscore,
For more on tonight's game and the Merritt Centennials visit Dustin Scafe's Merritt Centennials blog,