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 the Vernon Vipers home opener vs the Trail Smoke Eaters. Trail defeated Vernon 5-3 in front of 1,835 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Jarrod Schamerhorn
Trail: Bailey MacBurnie
1st Period: The Vipers got off to a quick start getting lots of shots on goal. Just a monute and a half into the 1st period former West Kelowna Warrior Hunter Zandee couldnt feed Jagger Williamson on a two on one attack. Vernon showing their speed off the opening puck drop was really moving the puck around, firing everything towards Bailey MacBurnie. The Vipers were outshooting the Smoke Eaters 6-0 before Trail would get their first shot of the night almost four minutes into the period. On the following shift Evan MacEachern got a quick shot off from the point, that found its way through a maze of players in front before Jarrod Schamerhorn made a tough save at the last second. A few plays late Trail would get the games first powerplay. The Smoke Eaters with a ton of pressure in and around the goal couldnt get one through Jarrod Schamerhorn who was down and out somehow was able to smother the loose puck stopping play. The Smokies with several goal mouth scrambles couldnt find the back of the net as the Vipers veteran goaltender was sharp on the penalty kill. Schamerhorn and the Vipers got a little luck on one play after the puck got through Schamerhorn looked to be going into the open cage before the puck was quickly cleared from the blue paint and out of the crease. The Smokies with some close calls come up short with the man advantage. Riley Brandt would break free for the breakaway at the halfway mark couldnt open the scoring after getting stopped by MacBurnie who made a big save keeping this game scoreless. Back come the Smoke Eaters as the play really opened up. John Laurito broke out on a three on one, Laurito kept and fired but couldnt beat Jarrod Schamerhorn shortside. Two big saves at both ends of the rink. About a minute and a half later Trail would get their second PP of the night before getting a shortened two man advantage. Again the Smokies moved the puck around had some good looks at the net couldnt solve Schamerhorn as Vernon would kill off both Trail minors. With just less then five minutes to go in the opening frame Liam Finlay tried to stick handle through two Trail forecheckers, Finaly coughed up the puck in his own end allowing Rhett Wilcox to walk in and burry it past Schamerhorn giving Trail the 1-0 lead at 15:19 Kale Howarth picked up the helper. The Smokies looked to build and feed off the momentum of this goal come back with several good shifts as the Vipers were a little back on their heels. Jagger Williamson with a quick low shot couldnt beat MacBurnie who reacted with a quick right pad save. With a minute remaining Kienan Scott with a great opportunity was stopped by Schamerhorn going hard to the net. Back come the Vipers who eventually would tie the game late after Hunter Zandee went to the front of the net, beat Bailey MacBurnie in close tying the game 1-1 at 19:36 Joe Sacco & Jagger Williamson with the assists. It was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes of play. I thought Vernon got off to a quick start, really showed their speed and skill early in the opening few minutes had the edge in play off the opening faceoff. But as the period went along the Smoke Eaters slowly got going, with a strong forecheck and a strong work ethic battled and competed looked like the better team for the remainder of the first period. Jarrod Schamerhorn was very good on the penalty kill, making some big saves while down and out kept his club in the game. Trail outshot Vernon 15-12.
2nd Period: The Smokies jumped on Vernon and had the Vipers hemmed in their own end for atleast the first five to six minutes as the Vipers were having all kinds of troubles getting out of their own end. Trail with a relentless forecheck was winning all the one on one battles and races for the puck looked like they were on the powerplay. Nick Halloran would skate into the Vernon zone on a nice rush before ripping a quick snap shot from the high slot beat Vipers starting goaltender Jarrod Schamerhorn blocker side giving Trail a 2-1 lead at 5:26 on the Smokies first shot of the period. Evan MacEachern & Kurt Black picked up the assists. The Vipers stormed right back and just twenty one seconds later tied the game 2-2 after Liam Finlay missed on a glorious chance in front before Steven Jandric burried the rebound at 5:47 Finlay & Peter Tufto collected the helpers. But less then two minutes later Bo Pellah would get caught up ice allowing Kienan Scott to setup Rhett Wilcox on an odd man rush gave Trail a 3-2 lead at 7:37 on just the Smokies second shot of the frame. Two shots-two goals. Scott and Jeremy Lucchini picked up the helpers. A few minutes later Colton McCarthy missed a great opportunity in close after a nice bang bang play from in close couldnt hit the net before Vernon would get their first look with the man advantage. On the powerplay Peter Tufto with two opportunities in close couldnt beat Bailey MacBurnie who made his biggest save of the night on Tufto's second chance, robbing Tufto with a huge glovesave from in close. But that was it for opportunities on the Viper powerplay as the Smoke Eaters penalty kill was much more dangerous. Kienan Scott lead a two on one shorthanded rush kept and fired but was denied by Jarrod Schamerhorn before the Smokies come very close to taking the lead still on the penalty kill after Cooper Leitch ripped a wicked shot from the point that beat Schamerhorn before going off the crossbar. Trail with a very good penalty kill, had some great shorthanded chances would kill off the minor. Less then two minutes later the Vipers would go back to the PP but again struggle as the Smokies would kill off a second straight powerplay before getting a PP of their own just seconds after Vernon's powerplay. Kienan Scott with a quick low shot was stopped by the quick glove save of Jarrod Schamerhorn before Trail would take a penalty sending both teams to four on four before Vernon would get a late PP. On the man advantage Peter Tufto tried setting up Liam Finlay who was going to the net had the puck go in off his body to tie the game at 17:59 the goal was waived off immedieatly. The two referees and linesmen would get together before turning the call giving Finlay the goal. Tufto with the lone helper. Trails Head Coach-GM Nick Deschenes and the Smoke Eaters coaching staff were upset with the call, asking to speak with the referee. A small delay before the game resumed. It was tied 3-3 after 40 minutes of play. The Smoke Eaters come out hard and attacked the Vipers early and often. Trail with a strong forecheck had Vernon's defence hemmed in their own end as the Vipers had all kinds of trouble clearing the zone, for the first five to six minutes it was all Smokies. Trail would score twice on its first two shots of the period was the better team for most of the 2nd period. The Vipers who didnt have as much speed and skill after the 1st period had lots of troubles defensively and in their own zone. The Smoke Eaters worked hard, played with the lead until giving up a late powerplay goal had a strong period. The Vipers outshot the Smoke Eaters 19-10.
3rd Period: Just ten seconds into the final frame Vernon would get an early man advantage but again couldnt generate much for offence. Peter Tufto with a good chance in close was about all the Vipers could muster who waisted most of the PP moving the puck around with very little shots on goal. Trail would kill off the minor. A few minutes later the Vipers went back to the powerplay and again struggled. Trail did a great job at keeping the Vipers to the outside, limited their shots and chances as Vernon with very little opportunities were 0-2 with the man advantage less then halfway through the 3rd. About a minute and a half later Vernon product Harlan Orr would give Trail their fourth lead of the night at 9:31 while four on four. Kurt Black and Cooper Sande collected the assists. Just over a minute later Vernon would lose former West Kelowna Warriors defenceman Mac Ferner who was ejected from the game and given five minutes for checking to the head on a brutal check to the head to Rhett Wilcox who was down on the ice for several minutes needed help off the ice from a trainer went straight to the dressing room and didnt return. A big loss for the Smokies. With the Smoke Eaters on a five minute PP it was the Viper defence who stepped up their play, coming up with several big blocked shots, getting sticks in the way, gave Trail a bit of trouble who couldnt seem to get much of anything going with the leangthy PP. Viper captain Colton McCarthy with a solid shift shorthanded battled hard deep in the Smokies zone, killing some valuable time off the clock. Vernon would excape and dodge a bullet after Trail would get caught with too many men on the ice in the final seconds of the powerplay. The Vipers would get a late man advantage but again struggle, the Smoke Eaters with a solid penalty kill would kill off yet another Viper powerplay. Vernon having all kinds of trouble in the final two minutes couldnt get Schamerhorn to the bench for the extra attacker as the Smokies with a strong defensive game late held the Vipers outside the neutral zone. Both teams would exchange timeouts before the Vipers would finally get Jarrod Schamerhorn to the bench with fourty seven seconds remaining. Vernon struggled to get any kind of chances down low couldnt force overtime before Kienan Scott would find the open net with 2.1 seconds to go giving Trail a 5-3 lead at 19:58 Jake Kauppila with the lone assist. The Smoke Eaters open the regular season with a 5-3 victory. The Vipers go 0-3 with the man advantage in the period struggled offensively on the powerplay. Vernon just couldnt get much of anything going all period. Four on four the Smokies capitalized to grab the lead and would hang on for the 5-3 win. Trail with a hard working period fully deserved the win. Trail outshot Vernon 17-8.
Vernon's Top Players:
The line of Peter Tufto (2 assists), Liam Finlay (1 goal & 1 assist) & Steven Jandric (1 goal) was the Vipers top line tonight. These three played very well through out the game, were generating and creating most of Vernon's opportunities. I really like the looks of Tufto, very quick, skilled and reads/sees the ice well. Finlay was buzzing all night but at times did a little too much and it cost him in the opening frame, coughed up the puck on Trails first goal.
Hunter Zandee (1 goal) I thought played well in tonight's loss. Picked up in a trade over the summer with West Kelowna was skating hard all night.
Jimmy Lambert also caught my attention, played well through out the evening.
Jarrod Schamerhorn (35 saves) Couldnt be faulted on any of the Smokies five goals. Schamerhorn was very good on the penalty kill, especially in the 1st made some big saves. Played well, making some tough saves at times didnt allow any rebounds was very good with his rebound control.
Vernon's Game Thought's:
I really like the Vipers energy and quick start. Vernon got off to a quick start, were really using their speed and skill, were getting pucks to the net early had the early edge in play before having to kill penalties. As the game went on I didnt think the Vipers played with that speed and skill they showed early to start in the hockey game. Vernon struggled with their passing, on the powerplay and defensively. It looked like the Vipers were going for those real long side to side passes, instead of just carrying the puck up ice or waiting for someone open much closer to the man with the puck. Several missed passes lead to turnovers. I didnt like the Vipers powerplay, way too many passes and not enough shots on goal. The Vipers moved the puck around most of the PP waisted all of the time passing, with very little shots or pucks to the net. I thought Vernon lost alot of the battles, races for the puck and gave up alot of odd man rushes. The Vipers defence didnt look very strong either. The Vipers with two mistakes ended up with the puck in the back of their net. Vernon could never seem to take the lead, always having to find ways of fighting back just couldnt pull out a late goal to force overtime. There were times when the Vipers looked very good, other times not so good and other times not great. Its the first game of the season, alot of these youngsters are away from home for the first time, playing their first Junior hockey game and nerves-jitters are expected. I would have liked to see a little more consistancy tonight. This team is quick, can move the puck, shows signs of skill and talent up front with two solid twenty year old goaltenders. This team is also very small, young with not alot of experience, Give this team some time and they will come around.
Trail's Top Players:
Jeremy Lucchini (1 assist) Played a solid game on the Smokies blueline all night.
Rhett Wilcox (2 goals) Had a strong game until leaving in the 3rd after taking a brutal check to the head. Wilcox was down for several minutes before needing help off the ice and to the Smoke Eaters dressing room.
Nick Halloran (1 goal) Gave the Smoke Eaters a 2-1 lead early into the 2nd after a quick snap shot from the slot looked good.
Kienan Scott (1 goal & 1 assist) I thought was Trail's best player tonight. This kid was all over the ice, had several scoring chances.
Kurt Black (2 assists) The former Viper forward was acquired in a trade with Chilliwack over the off season picked up two assists was one of the Smokies hardest working players. Always skating, moving his feet, looking for opportunities played very well at both ends of the rink.
Ryan Swanson was another D-man that had a strong game on the blueline.
Cooper Leitch also played well for the visiting Trail Smoke Eaters. Hit the crossbar in the second frame competed all night.
Kale Howarth (1 assist) Has some size, played well, was involved in the play, hard to knock off the puck and push around.
Bailey MacBurnie (36 saves) Picks up his first career BCHL win in his first career BCHL game. This kid didnt have to make alot of big saves did play very well between the pipes for Trail. Made his biggest save off Peter Tufto after flashing the leather making a huge glove save in the 2nd period. Quick on his feet, likes to come out of his crease and handle the puck. Made several long stretch passes up ice helping the Smokies break out.
Trail's Game Thought's:
The Trail Smoke Eaters get just their eighth win in Vernon since the 2002-03 season. Before tonight Trails last win in Vernon was a 5-4 win on January 9th 2013. Give the Smokies full credit for opening the season on the road and coming away with a hard fought victory. This was by far one of the better Trail teams I have seen in sometime. The Smoke Eaters went 0-7 vs Vernon last year will host the Vipers tomorrow night in the second game of a home & home series. Trail has a few bigger kids, works hard, competes, has a strong relentless forecheck and a good penalty kill. Trail has some experienced-veteran kids with a well balanced attack. I liked their defensive play and Bailey MacBurnie gives them solid goaltending. I thought the Smoke Eaters were the better team overall tonight. Trail played with the lead all night, had the Vipers playing catchup most of the night and capitalized on a few Viper mistakes. The Smokies can move the puck and have a good breakout. I know its only the first game of the season, but I like with what I saw tonight. This team is no pushover and looks good. Could Trail could be a darkhorse in the Interior Division? One of the linesmen tonight was a woman.
Energy player of the game:
1st Star: Rhett Wilcox (2 goals)
2nd Star: Liam Finlay (1 goal & 1 assist)
3rd Star: Kurt Black (2 assists)