I was at tonight's Vipers-Rivermen game as Langley defeated Vernon 2-0 in front of 2,004 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Andrew Shortridge
Langley: Bo Didur
1st Period: The Vipers got off to a quick start, got some early pressure off the opening puck drop for close to the first two minutes, had some good looks at the net but missed the net on three different shots from in close. On the following play Jason O'Neill couldn't beat Andrew Shortridge on a goal mouth scramble in front of the Viper goal. The Rivermen would get an early powerplay, the games first PP of the night just over five minutes into the 1st. The Vipers with a good penalty kill, before Vernon product Jagger Williamson with a nice move inside the Langley blueline put the puck up and over Bo Didur before coming down behind the net on a great scoring opportunity late in the penalty kill. Vernon with a strong PK would kill off the minor. The Vipers showing lots of jump and speed looked hungry and played with good pace, carried the better of the play for most of the period. Just before the halfway mark John Schuldt with a rocket of a shot from the blueline was stopped by Shortridge who made a big pad save, kicking out the rebound to the slot, where no Rivermen player was around unable to pounce on the loose puck. A minute and a bit later Liam Finlay would be stopped by Didur before stopping former Langley Rivermen forward Ben Butcher on the rebound on two solid chances for the Vipers. Langley come very close to opening the scoring after Odeen Tufto come very close to putting the puck past Andrew Shortridge and into the back of his own net, luckily for Tufto Shortridge was there to bail out his teammate making the save in tight. Vernon now outplaying the Rivermen had lots of pressure couldn't solve Bo Didur who made some key saves keeping this game scoreless. Vernon would get their first look with the man advantage but struggled, the Rivermen were able to kill off the penalty. Just seconds after killing off the minor, the Rivermen would get their second look with the PP late to finish the period. Langley went atleast ten minutes without a shot on goal before finally getting one late in the frame on the man advantage couldn't capitalize as the Vipers would kill off the minor. The Rivermen gained some momentum and kept the play deep in the Viper zone, the Vipers couldn't clear the zone allowed Langley to open the scoring. John Schuldt's point shot was redirected on it's way to the net by Jason O'Neill giving Langley a 1-0 lead at 19:47 Justin Szeto & John Schuldt collected the helpers. Langley was up 1-0 after 20 minutes of play. The Vipers with a quick start, showed lots of jump, speed and outplayed the Rivermen for most of the first period, but found themselves down 1-0 after giving up a late goal to end the frame. Vernon with some quality chances couldn't beat Bo Didur who was solid between the pipes. The Rivermen were very limited with offensive chances, didn't get a lot of zone time, played most of the 1st in their own end. Vernon outshot Langley 15-7.
2nd Period: The Rivermen with a quick start, had some early pressure. Langley with atleast three if not four real good looks at the net from in close were just missing the far corner, coming close to taking a two goal lead. Jagger Williamson with a quick hard shot off a faceoff deep in the Rivermen zone forced Rivermen starting goaltender Bo Didur to make a tough save off Williamson. Both teams went back and fourth with not a lot of great scoring chances at either ends of the rink. As the period went along Langley really tightened up defensively and was keeping Vernon to the outside. The Vipers with very little time and space were having troubles generating offence. The Vipers with just three shots in the first half. The Vipers would get caught with too many men on the ice, giving the Rivermen a powerplay just before the midway mark, Vipers starting goaltender Andrew Shortridge was Vernon's best penalty killer coming up with several big stops. Shortridge made a big save off Matt Graham off the end of his goal stick before stopping Graham twice in tight. Trevor Ayre alone at the side of the net, just ripped his shot short and wide of the far side missing on a great opportunity. Shortridge and the Vipers with a big penalty kill kept this game at 1-0. Shortly after the PK Hunter Zandee and Steven Jandric went in for the odd man rush, Zandee decided to shoot was stopped by Didur who come up with a big pad save keeping the Vipers off the scoreboard. Shortridge and former Vipers forward Matty Saharchuk got tangled up in the crease, after Saharchuk gave Shortridge a shot to the head before Shortridge tripped up Saharchuk twice once trying to leave the front of the net. Mitchell Oliver's point shot looked to give Bo Didur a little trouble, as Charley Michalowski raced in couldn't capitalize on the rebound in front. Justin Fregona with a great opportunity in the slot was robbed by Andrew Shortridge who come up with the huge pad save with about five minutes to go. Langley now starting to press, poured on the pressure late to finish the period. The Rivermen with all kinds of pressure had the Vernon defence back on their heels. Max Kaufman with a nice individual effort somehow got behind the Viper defence was stopped by Shortridge in tight, before scoring on the rebound giving Langley a 2-0 lead at 17:32 Kaufman's goal was unassisted. Just over a minute later Vernon would get a late powerplay but unable to capitalize as Langley was up 2-0 after 40 minutes of play. Both teams looked fairly even for most of the first half before the Rivermen took over the edge in play. Langley really tightened up defensively, shutdown the Vipers speed and offence, limiting their time and space. The Rivermen defence was collapsing in front of the net, not giving the Vipers any space. The Vipers with just a few good opportunities didn't get a lot of scoring chances. Andrew Shortridge come up with some big-key saves on the PK to keep the Vipers in this one. The Rivermen looked like a different team this period compared to the opening frame. Langley outshot Vernon 13-8.
3rd Period: Vernon started the final frame on the man advantage that was carried over from the end of the 2nd period. The Vipers couldn't get much going offensively as the Rivermen killed off the penalty. Odeen Tufto would get a great opportunity in front just minutes into the 3rd was stoned by Bo Didur who come up with a huge pad save keeping the Vipers off the scoreboard. Langley would get an early look with the PP but couldn't capitalize. The Rivermen missed the net on some real good looks from in close, weren't missing the net by much. The Vipers struggled offensively to get anything going, couldn't get any real good sustained pressure. The Rivermen carried the better of the play but didn't get a lot of opportunities. Both teams picked up the physical play late in the 3rd, alying out some good checks. Just past the halfway mark Langley would get their second look with the man advantage but again, were missing the net after some good looks from in close. The Vipers with a good penalty kill would kill off the penalty. Just before the penalty expired Vernon would get their first of three straight powerplays. The Vipers struggled with the PP had a few decent shots but couldn't get any real quality chances or shots towards the net. Langley with a real good penalty kill, would kill off the minor. The Rivermen would get into penalty trouble, as the Vipers would get a late powerplay. Mark Ferner would call a late timeout, getting Andrew Shortridge to the bench for the extra attacker with 2:10 remaining. Langley would then take another penalty giving Vernon a late five on three powerplay. The Vipers moved the puck around and around, but Langley did a great job at boxing out the Viper forwards, shutdown the shooting lanes, didn't give the Viper PP any time or space. Vernon with good pressure, eventually spot a wide open Odeen Tufto at the side of the net, but fired high and over the open cage missing on a great opportunity. With time winding down the Rivermen would eventually clear the zone, Matt Graham looking for the open cage, hit the post in the dying seconds as Langley would hang on for the 2-0 victory. Both teams had troubles getting the offence going as neither team was willing to give the other team that time or space. Both teams couldn't capitalize with the powerplay, but both teams also did a heck of a job on the penalty kill. The Vipers with two maybe three good chances, aren't going to win many games down two goals and get just six shots on goal in the final frame. Vernon had all kinds of trouble getting anything going offensively. Langley also didn't get many great opportunities but played a heck of a period defensively. The Vipers with three late powerplays to finish the 3rd needed to generate something on the man advantage. Langley was the better of the two teams in the 3rd outshot Vernon 12-6.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Jagger Williamson I thought was one of if not the Vipers hardest working player tonight. Williamson with a strong effort-performance played hard, come up with some scoring chances, competed and worked hard through out the game.
Odeen Tufto couldn't buy a goal, had some great looks-opportunities played strong in the loss.
Hunter Zandee was another Viper forward that I thought played well in the loss. Showed some hustle through out the game, was going to the net.
Liam Finlay was really buzzing, didn't generate much offence but really opened up the ice with his speed and quickness.
Callum Volpe Played very well on the blueline, has a quick release and good shot was getting shots off quick from the point.
Andrew Shortridge (30 saves) Returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday's game in Merritt with tonsillitis. Shortridge made several big-key saves through out the game, but made some of his best in the 2nd period on the penalty kill. One of the league's bigger goaltenders, covers a lot of room-net looked very calm-confident played very well between the pipes, giving the Vipers a chance to win.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
I thought the Vipers played hard-well even though lost. Vernon really needed a goal or more in that 1st period when the Vipers were all over the Rivermen, The Vipers carried the better of the play-had several good looks-some real good opportunities couldn't find the back of the net. The Vipers played with lots of jump, speed and quickness couldn't adjust to the Rivermen's defence in the 2nd and 3rd periods. Vernon was able to free wheel in the 1st was very limited to time and space in the 2nd and 3rd periods, were kept to the outside, boxed out most of the 2nd and 3rd periods didn't generate or create enough scoring chances in order to make the comeback. The Vipers also didn't get enough pucks-shots towards Bo Didur in order to create-generate scoring chances. I didnt think the Vipers went to the net enough, didnt go to those grey areas in order to create-generate scoring chances. Bo Didur played well but also saw a lot if not most of the Vipers 29 shots. The Vipers only give up two goals but both goals were at or near the end of a period. The Vipers with just one goal in their last two games have scored once in three of their last four games. I was very pleased with the Viper penalty kill, had a very strong night but seemed to struggle with the man advantage. Late in the 3rd with three straight powerplays (one a five on three) with the goaltender pulled the Vipers just couldn't get much of anything going. A very tough loss, as the Vipers have lost two straight and don't want to go into a big losing streak this time of the year. Vernon now with a real tough schedule to finish the regular season, the next four games are going to be huge. The Vipers play West Kelowna the next three games before finishing next weekend in Chilliwack. The Vipers get some much needed help from Cowichan tonight, as the Capitals defeat Merritt 4-2 to stay four points up on 5th place Merritt.
Top Player's: (Langley)
Jason O'Neill (1 goal) Played hard, was going to the net-looking for rebounds-opportunities, had a strong game up front for the Rivermen.
Alec Capstick I thought played very well on the Langley backend. Was very steady all evening.
John Schuldt (1 assist) Also had a strong night on the Rivermen blueline. Took a few penalties but was very solid through out the game. Not sure what the issue was but Schuldt had several Vipers going after him through out the game.
Trevor Ayre Looked good up front, had some good looks at the net, just had troubles hitting the net. Played and worked hard, was driving to the net a lot, had a good game.
Matt Graham I thought was Langley's best-most effective player tonight. Gave the Vipers troubles through out the game, was hard to defend against and hard to play against. Quick on his feet, moves the puck well, has a quick shot.
Bo Didur (29 saves-Shutout) Picked up his second shutout of the season and third of his career. The former Surrey Eagles netminder played very well between the pipes. Didur had to be on his game-alert in the opening frame made some big-key saves, to give his team a chance to stay in the game. In the 2nd and 3rd periods didn't see as much rubber, but was still forced to make a few big saves to record the win-shutout. Dosnt give up many rebounds, controls the puck, plays his position well.
Game Thought's: (Langley)
The Rivermen get outplayed but managed to get some solid goaltending in the opening period, score in the dying seconds to open the scoring in a period they didn't deserve to be ahead. Langley could have easily been down two or three goals that 1st period, escaped and were up a goal. Give full credits to the Rivermen coaching staff, as they come out to start the 2nd period a much different hockey club. I thought Langley was a much different yet much better team in the 2nd and 3rd periods. The Rivermen tightened up defensively, really shutdown Vernon's speed and offence, limiting their opportunities and time-space. Langley's defence played very well in the final two periods. Langley also seemed to get their legs going, played with a lot more jump and energy in the final two periods, were able to generate some pressure inside the Viper blueline. This Langley team has some bigger bodies but don't play the physical game as much as I thought they would. Game two of a current five game road trip and the Rivermen are 2-0 heading to West Kelowna. With the victory this evens the season series at 1-1 after the Vipers won 7-4 in Langley December 12th. Langley has now won nine of the last eleven games over Vernon.
Bobby Henderson (Suspended)
Energy Player of the Game:
1st Star: Bo Didur (29 saves-Shutout)
2nd Star: Max Kaufman (1 goal)
3rd Star: Jason O'Neill (1 goal)
BCHL Game Summary,