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 Vipers-Express game as Vernon defeated Coquitlam 3-1 in front of 1,923 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Austin Smith
Coquitlam: Pierce Dushenko
1st Period: Just a minute into the opening period Colton Sparrow setup newcomer Brett Mulcahy in the slot who missed the net on a great chance to open the scoring. Coquitlam would get an early powerplay to start the game just over three minutes in. Actually the Express would get back to back powerplays but could only register one shot on goal as a very good penalty kill by the Vipers. Coquitlam with an early edge in play as the Express had lots of jump, a quick team moved the puck well carried the better of the play for most of the period in a period that saw lots of scrambled play at both ends of the rink. The Vipers didnt generate much offence as alot of the play was in the Vernon zone. For two teams that were only facing each other for a second time this season, their was sure alot of altercations going on after the whistles with lots of pushing and shoving. Coquitlam come very close to opening the scoring around the halfway mark after a shot from the side of the net got through traffic in front beat Austin Smith went off the crossbar. Vernon would get its first powerplay of the game towards the end of the 1st but it was the Express who would get a great opportunity after Jace Hennig used his speed coming down the left wing got off a clean hard shot on a parcial breakaway forced Austin Smith to come out and challenge closing up the fivehole making the save. Coquitlam with a good penalty kill would kill off the minor. More pushing and shoving at the buzzer as Coquitlam would get their third powerplay that would begin at the start of the 2nd period. It was scoreless after 20 minutes of play. The Vipers struggled, took a few undisaplined penalties couldnt generate any offence or get pucks to the net as Coquitlam carried the better of the play for most of the period but the Express also had troubles creating chances. Coquitlam outshot Vernon 8-3.
2nd Period: The Express started the middle frame on the man advantage and would play most of the period with the powerplay. The Express moving the puck around had a few chances but it was another strong penalty kill by the Vipers who would kill off the minor before heading right back to the penalty kill seconds later. Coquitlam would finally capitalize and make Vernon pay with the powerplay. Former Salmon Ar Silverbacks defenceman Mark Whiteley's point shot was stopped by Vipers starting goaltender Austin Smith, Jace Hennig would beat Smith on the reboun sliding the puck into the open cage giving the Express a 1-0 lead at 4:09 Whiteley and Bo Pieper collected the helpers. Shortly after Michael McNicholas with a breakaway missed the net on a great chance to tie the game. Coquitlam would head back to the powerplay and get a few good chances. Smith was sharp making two big saves off Nicholas Rasovic and JD Cotroneo as the Vipers would almost kill off the minor before the Express would take a penalty with four seconds remaining on the powerplay. On the play Vernon needed nine minutes to record their first shot on goal of the period. Shorthanded it was the Express who once again would get the better of the chances after Jace Hennig again was stopped shorthanded by Austin Smith. The Vipers couldnt get much going with the man advantage as a good kill by the Express. Coquitlam would get a two man advantage just past the midway mark, moving the puck around the Express with a few good chances couldnt beat Smith as the Vipers penalty kill was very strong tonight killing off both minor penalties. Less then a minute later Demico Hannoun with a long stretch pass setup Colton Sparrow who come flying down the right wing caught Express starting goaltender Pierce Dushenko back in his net ripped a high shot over the blocker tying the game 1-1 at 18:37 Hannoun with the lone assist. This goal got the Vipers and the crowd back into the game. It was tied 1-1 after 40 minutes of play. Coquitlam carried most of the play playing most of the period with the powerplay as Vernon took several undisplained penalties but their also was a few myth calls that were called against the Vipers. The Express with a chance to put the Vipers away went 1-6 with the man advantage. Either way the Vipers were outplayed in another ugly second period. The Express outshot the Vipers 13-5.
3rd Period: The Vipers with a hard working shift to start the final frame would take the first lead of the night after Liam Coughlin with a nice feed setup Brett Mulcahy in front with his first goal as a Viper giving Vernon a 2-1 lead at 1:43 Coughlin and Jared Wilson with the assists. The Express then took over and once again carried the better of the play were all over the Vipers at times. Coquitlam with a great chance to tie the game on a two on rush, former Penticton Vee and Trail Smoke Eaters forward Brendan Lamont setup Cody Boyd who got in too deep looked to have Smith beat but hit the outside of the net. A few minutes later Austin Smith made a huge save off Corey Mackin on a three on two rush. The Express with good pressure were pushing for the game tying goal. The Express once again were the better of the two teams and carried the better of the play in the first half before Vernon finally got going and come up with a few good flurries. The Vipers with their most pressure of the entire game played well for atleast four or five minutes before the Express come right back. The Vipers just couldnt get anything going all night looked sluggish at times. With five minutes remaining the Vipers got caught running around in their own end allowed Coquitlam to get off to shots from the slot as both players were wide open. Smith was able to make the save off one while the other shot missed the net. The Vipers would get lucky and get a late powerplay but once again it was the hard work from the Coquitlam penalty kill that once again generated chances. Corey Mackin was stoned by Smith on a big game saver while back the other way Pierce Dushenko made his biggest save of the night off Michael McNicholas whos shot from the slot was stopped after a huge toe save keeping this a one goal game. The Express penalty kill was very good and active creating opportunities would kill off the minor before late in the dying seconds Coquitlam would get called with too many men on the ice giving Vernon a very late powerplay. The Vipers would capitalize and add an insurance marker just for keep sakes after Colton Sparrow setup Brett Mulcahy for his second of the night at 19:57 Sparrow with the only assist. At the buzzer both benches exchanged words before Demico Hannoun skated over towards the Express bench to get in a few last words before the linesmen were able to haul him out of harms way as Vernon would get back into 2nd place with the 3-1 win. Well the Vipers played a little better in the final frame getting the early goal (game winner) held on for a much needed victory. Coquitlam still was the better of the two teams and carried the better of the play. Vernon scored on their chances in a game they may have been lucky to win. Shots were even 11-11.
Top Players: (Vernon)
TJ Dumonceaux was by far the Vipers most energized and best player tonight. The Kelowna native showed a ton of energy and jump all night was really skating and working hard all night. I didnt notice Dumonceaux as much in the final period compared to the first two.
Colton Sparrow (1 goal & 1 assist) Played with alot of jump and hard work. Scored a nice goal with a nice shot high blocker side tying the game late in the 2nd period, giving the Vipers some life and energy in the building. Sparrow was lucky as he could have easily been tossed from tonight's game in the second after a check in the Express zone. Sparrow was called for boarding and could have easily been tossed for checking from behind.
Austin Smith (31 saves) How good has Austin Smith been playing as of late. The Vipers goaltender kept the Vipers in tonight's game making some key saves on the penalty kill and through out the entire game. Smith who played very well in his last start (win over Nanaimo) was very solid tonight.
Game Thoughts: (Vernon)
I think tonight was one of the ugliest games I have seen the Vipers play this season. From the start of the game Vernon got off to a slow start, looked sluggish and very scrambed through out the game. The Vipers didnt look good in the 1st and 2nd periods playing a little better in the 3rd but were still outplayed most of the night. Just three shots in the 1st? and only five in the 2nd? Come on!! For the second straight night Vernon's second period was ugly! Once again the Vipers were in the penalty box alot, taking alot of undisaplined penalties. The Vipers were very lucky Coquitlam's powerplay wasnt clicking or this game was over in the 2nd period. Give the Vipers penalty kill a pat on the back, they have been very good most of the season and were very strong tonight. Give the Vipers some credit they did a good job at keeping the Express to the outside, Coquitlam didnt get alot of real good chances. Since the return after Christmas break the Vipers havnt been or looked the same as they did before the holidays. This team is struggling right now and they better be careful or after this week-weekend they could find themselfs down the standings with some tough games this week-weekend. Demico Hannoun didnt have a great game but was by far the Vipers most physical player. Is the flu going through the Vipers dressing room? because Michael McNicholas and Liam Coughlin both looked bagged especially in the 3rd period, both kids had troubles skating and keeping up with the play. Vernon struggled tonight and didnt look very good at all. Lots of running around in their own end, coughing up the puck, getting beat to the puck, losing the battles. A big win but very lucky to come away with the victory.
Top Players: (Coquitlam)
Marc Biega played very well on the backend. Very steady all night.
Jace Hennig (1 goal) was very good for the Express. Very quick, was always involved in the play, buzzing in and around the net, creating and generating chances. Had several good chances, also very good on the penalty kill.
JD Cotroneo also played very well on the blueline. A bigger kid is hard to beat and dosnt give ya alot of room out there.
Corey Mackin has some wheels and can skate. Looked very good, especially in the third. Had a few good chances was in and around the play.
Nicolas Rasovic was very good up front for Coquitlam. Quick, can move the puck, involved in the play and another play that goes to the net.
Joey Santucci played well at times. Seemed to play with an edge. I noticed several Vipers were either exchanging words or giving him a little tap on the way by etc. Not sure if he was getting under the skin of players but played well tonight.
Game Thoughts: (Coquitlam)
For a 3rd place team the Express sure didnt play like a team that was one game above 500. This team works extremely hard and plays hard. Very quick, they can move the puck well from zone to zone and get pucks on net. They didnt generate alot of grade A scoring chances but got pucks to the net and had their fare share of chances. This is a game where I think the coaches and players know they should have won. After a big 7-2 loss in West Kelowna last night the Express come back with a hard working sixty minute effort tonight falling on the short end of things. The Express carried most of the play and outplayed Vernon most of the night. Specialty teams was the difference. Going 1-8 isnt going to win you many games, especially when you have six powerplays in the 2nd period and a great chance to put the Vipers away. Some missed opportunities and a tough break or two cost them the game. I did like the penalty kill, very aggresive, attacking man to man, always sending one guy in wich created a few shorthanded chances tonight. This was a tough loss in a game they should have won.
Mark Hamilton (Injured)
Energy player of the game:
Liam Coughlin (1 assist)
1st Star: Austin Smith (31 saves)
2nd Star: Brett Mulcahy (2 goals)
3rd Star: Colton Sparrow (1 goal & 1 assist)
For more on tonight's game visit the BCHL boxscore,
For more on the Coquitlam Express and tonight's game visit Eddie Gregories Coquitlam Express blog,