I was at tonight's Vipers-Eagles game as Vernon defeated Surrey 3-2 in double overtime in front of 1,592 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Andrew Shortridge
Surrey: Justin Laforest
1st Period: Two minutes into the game Joe Sacco come close to opening the scoring, after getting a quick shot off from the circle looked to handcuff Justin Laforest who made a tough save in the opening few minutes. Two minutes later Logan Mostat lead the Eagles attack on a three on two went high and over the net, missing on an odd man rush. Surrey come out physical, laying the body early but were outshot 5-1 in the opening five minutes or so. Just over six minutes into the 1st Tyler Cooper levelled Ben Butcher with a big check to the head, as Butcher went hard to the ice, Latrell Charleson went right after Cooper dropping the gloves, feeding Cooper shots along the side boards. Charleson would get tossed from the game for fighting, while Copper didn't drop the gloves, sent Surrey to the powerplay (seven minutes). Butcher would leave the ice and head to the Vipers dressing room. Butcher was gone for a lot of the period, before returning late in the period. Viper captain Colton McCarthy also went to the Vipers dressing room, but returned within minutes.Tyler Andrews would get the Eagles on the board, giving Surrey a 1-0 lead at 7:30 on just Surrey's second shot on the man advantage. Donavan Ott and Austin Anselmo with the assists. The Eagles still on the PP had a full five minutes of powerplay. Former Vernon Vipers forward Kurt Black had a great opportunity in the slot, to give Surrey a 2-0 lead somehow missed an open net in front, shooting high and over the goal. Tyler Andrews in close beat Andrew Shortridge but rang his shot off the post as the Eagles with two quality chances in close. Riley Brandt and Jagger Williamson would break free on a two on one, Brandt would keep and fire, unable to beat Justin Laforest on a shorthanded opportunity. Surrey with just three shots on the seven minute powerplay, only managed the one goal as the Vipers would finish the penalty kill strong, killed off the final five minutes. Just over a minute later the Vipers would get their first look with the powerplay. unable to really generate much Vernon couldn't capitalize as the Eagles would kill off the minor. The Vipers carried the edge in play, couldn't solve Justin Laforest. Christian Cakebread and Trent Huitema got involved in a minor scrum deep in the Eagles zone, with some pushing and shoving, Huitema was really fired up wanted to drop the gloves with Cakebread. On the same play, Huitema then got into exchanging words with Riley Brandt. Surrey was up 1-0 after 20 minutes of play. The Eagles with an early seven minute powerplay, managed only one goal on three shots, had two quality chances from in close could have easily jumped out to a 2-0 or 3-0 lead. The Eagles played a fairly physical game early, in a fairly intense opening period, with lots of emotion in a feisty period. The Vipers with a strong penalty kill, had a great chance of their own to tie the game shorthanded. I thought the Vipers carried the better of the play at times, had some good looks in close couldn't beat Justin Laforest. Vernon outshot Surrey 15-5.
2nd Period: Just 1:33 into the middle frame Christian Cakebread and Matthew Brown started taking punches at each other, inside the Surrey blueline, while the play was going up ice. The play was stopped while the two both made their way to the penalty box. The Eagles with a good chance early, Kurt Black on a parcial odd man rush couldn't beat Andrew Shortridge in close. A few minutes later Jeffery Stewart crossed the Viper blueline ripped a quick shot from the high slot, beat Vipers starting goaltender Andrew Shortridge giving Surrey a 2-0 lead at 5:15 Kurt Black & Donavan Ott collected the helpers. Just a few minutes later Shortridge made a big pad save off Gage Mackie before Paul McAvoy jumped on the rebound shot up and over the net on the second chance in close. Some very scrambled play at both ends of the rink, as the play was very choppy with no real flow. The Eagles were doing a good job at one point at keeping the Vipers to the outside, limiting Vernon's scoring chances. Matthew Brown went into the boards awkwardly after taking a hit from Colton McCarthy. Brown laid on the ice for several minutes before being attended too by the Eagles trainer. Brown was slow to skate off the ice, looked to have injured his arm-shoulder went to the Eagles dressing room, but would later return to the game to start the 3rd period. Liam Finlay also looked to get hurt-injured was a little slow getting off the ice, looked to be in some discomfort, would be ok and stay in the game. Just past the halfway mark the Vipers would get their second man advantage of the night. But Vernon struggled, having troubles breaking out of their own end, couldn't make a decent pass as the Eagles were able to kill off the penalty. Just fourteen seconds after killing the penalty, Vernon would jump back on the powerplay. Former West Kelowna Warriors defenceman Mac Ferner would be robbed by Eagles starting goaltender Justin Laforest who flashed the leather, making a highlight reel save off Ferner at the side of the net. On the following play Joe Sacco with a shot from in close, had the puck role through the crease and out the other side. The Vipers with two great chances would eventually get on the board late in the PP. Colton McCarthy in front got Vernon on the board, cutting Surrey's lead to 2-1 at 16:27 Mitchell Oliver and Jagger Williamson with the helpers. Less then a minute later the Eagles would get a late powerplay, but it would be the Vipers who would capitalize. Mitchell Oliver's point shot went off a Surrey defender in front before Joe Sacco banged home a loose puck tied the game 2-2 at 17:47 Oliver and Jagger Williamson picked up the assists. Vernon was able to kill off the remainder of the penalty. Inside the final minute, Kurt Black with a tip in front was stopped by Shortridge. On the same play back come the Vipers as Liam Finlay was denied in the final seconds on two good opportunities at both ends of the rink. It was tied 2-2 after 40 minutes of play. The Eagles with some good chances early, jumped out to a two goal lead. Both teams looked fairly even at times, with some very scrambled play at times. The Vipers come on strong late, scored back to back late goals to tie the game. Vernon outshot Surrey 21-16.
3rd Period: In the opening minutes Ben Butcher with two quality chances couldn't solve Justin Laforest who was solid all night. Four minutes into the 3rd Colton McCarthy was stopped by Laforest as Vernon with some good chances early. The Vipers carried the better of the play early, were really skating, moving the puck, were creating-generating chances. Surrey had troubles getting any real good chances, didn't get a lot of pressure in the Vipers zone. Just past the halfway mark Vernon would jump on the powerplay but it was Jeffery Stewart who capitalized on a Viper turnover inside their own zone. Stewart was denied by Andrew Shortridge, jumped on a second turnover by a Viper defenceman, would walk in alone before being hauled down, was stopped by Shortridge on back to back shorthanded chances. The Vipers would take a penalty on the play, as both teams played four on four before the Eagles would get a late penalty. The Vipers able to kill off the remainder of the penalty. Vernon would get a late powerplay with about five minutes remaining after Matthew Brown's check to the head on Odeen Tufto. Brown would get two minutes for checking to the head and an automatic ten minute misconduct would head to the Eagles dressing room, with only five minutes remaining in the hockey game. The Vipers moving the puck around, didn't get a lot of chances missed on a few opportunities from in close, passed instead of shooting the puck as Surrey would kill off the minor. Late in the game the Vipers would spring Odeen Tufto in for the breakaway who was stoned by Laforest who sprawled out to make a huge pad save off the Vipers leading scorer. Tufto stayed with the play, regained control of the puck would get denied on the wrap around on two great chances late in the 3rd. It was tied 2-2 after 60 minutes. I thought Vernon carried the better of the play for most of the period, had the better chances, couldn't capitalize on the man advantage or solve Justin Laforest who was solid between the pipes. The Eagles didn't generate much for offence, had two chances, both shorthanded were limited to zone time and chances. Most of Surrey's shots were from well outside. Vernon outshot Surrey 17-11.
Overtime: In the extra frame it was the Eagles who carried the better of the play. Surrey with good puck control, moved the puck around had the Vipers back on their heels at times, had troubles getting the puck through bodies in front. Jeffery Stewart with a wicked shot from in close, tried going upstairs couldn't beat Andrew Shortridge who made a wicked gloves save keeping this game tied. Late in overtime Riley Brandt lead an odd man rush, setup "AP" Carter Stephenson who couldn't beat Justin Laforest off the rush. It was tied 2-2 after 65 minutes of play. The Vipers with just one rush-opportunity, had troubles getting out of their own end, Surrey on the other hand, carried the better of the play, had a real good chance of their own. Vernon outshot Surrey 4-2.
Double Overtime: Off the opening puck drop Jeremy Stewart was able to walk in untouched went hard to the net, fired wide on a close call. Back come the Vipers who would get the puck in deep before moving the puck around, Liam Finlay setup Odeen Tufto in close, who got in alone in tight beat Justin Laforest for the overtime winner, giving Vernon a 3-2 double overtime victory at 0:53 Finlay and Mitchell Oliver picked up the helpers. Jeremy Stewart was very close to ending this game, off the opening faceoff before Tufto scored the game winner shortly after. Vernon outshot Surrey 1-0.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Carter Stephenson "AP" Playing in his fourth game with the Vipers this season, played very well. Made a few defensive mistakes but overall played very well on the backend. Earlier this year the Vipers announced Stephenson has committed to play with the Vipers next season.
Mitchell Oliver (3 assists) Has really come on as of late and played very well the last week or two stepping up late in the season. Oliver who has really improved this season, has been one of the Vipers better defenceman lately. Played with poise, showed confidence, was getting pucks off from the point, getting pucks to the net, looked very calm tonight on the blueline.
Jagger Williamson (2 assists) Played very well, picking up two helpers. Williamson who was really skating hard, had some good looks at the net, hesitated on a few shots from in close. Williamson had a few looks-chances from in close, waited that extra second, allowed the goaltender to get set-ready for the shot. Williamson needs to work on that quick release.
Riley Brandt I thought had one of his better games in a while. I don't think Brandt has been the same player he was at the start of the season. The past few months Brandt has really toned down his physical play. Tonight really stepped up his play, played with a ton of jump & energy was engaged in a few altercations with Trent Huitema and Tyler Cooper also showed off his speed, creating-generating several good scoring chances.
Joe Sacco (1 goal) I thought played very well, had some good opportunities tonight.
Andrew Shortridge (34 saves) Wasn't tested a lot but when he was faced with some quality chances, come up with the big saves when called apon. I thought Shortridge made a few big saves in the 2nd and 3rd periods to keep this game tied.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
I thought the Vipers played very well for most of tonight's game. Other then a few defensive turnovers-mistakes I thought Vernon carried the better of the play, had the better chances. I thought the Vipers were skating, played-battled hard. The referee's blew a missed call on Tyler Cooper who should have got two minutes for a check to the head on Ben Butcher early to start the 1st instead saw Latrell Charleson stick up for one of his team mates, went after Cooper dropping the gloves, would get ejected from the game for fighting, giving Surrey a seven minute powerplay. The Vipers with a good penalty kill, were lucky the Eagles only managed three shots-one goal on that seven minute powerplay. Give the Vipers credit for battling back, down 2-0 didn't quit. Colton McCarthy with a huge powerplay goal late in the 2nd period, gets the Vipers on the board and then just over a minute later tie the game shorthanded. Vernon could have easily won this game in regulation, had several good opportunities in the 3rd couldn't solve Justin Laforest who sent this game to overtime. Odeen Tufto with a huge goal in double overtime, gives the Vipers a huge two points also snaps a six game losing streak. How big was tonight's win, well Trail defeated Salmon Arm tonight are just a single point back of the Vipers for the fourth and final playoff spot. The Smoke Eaters with just one game remaining in the regular season, host the Vipers Saturday. The Vipers host Wenatchee Friday, a Vipers win Friday gets Vernon into the playoffs for a second straight year. The Vipers struggled with the man advantage, either passed the puck around more times then getting pucks to the net or had troubles getting control of the play. I also thought the Vipers passing struggled tonight, you think with just three games left in the season you would be able to make a pass. The Vipers with several poor passes through out the game. I really liked Vernon's penalty kill, give the Vipers penalty killers credit on the seven minute powerplay, only gave up three shots-one goal, also had an odd man rush shorthanded opportunity. I know Justin Laforest stole the show tonight, but how the heck do the Surrey Eagles take you to double overtime? The Eagles with just seven wins, sit last in the league shouldn't have been in this game, especially with whats on the line for the Vipers. This is a game tonight, where this game shouldn't even be close. That just goes to show you, the Vipers level of talent-play this season. A pretty small crowd on hand for tonight's game, in the Vipers second last home game of the season. Former Vipers forward Trevor Keenan was at tonight's game.
Top Player's: (Surrey)
Jeffery Stewart (1 goal) Was by far one of if not the Eagles best forward tonight. Stewart involved in the play almost every shift, had several good chances. Creating-generating opportunities is very good with the puck, moves the puck well, reads and sees the ice, gave the Vipers defenders trouble tonight. Come very close to winning it in overtime, was stopped early into the 1st overtime and then had a good rush-opportunity early into the second overtime missed the net from in close.
Kurt Black (1 assist) Was an "AP" with the Vipers during the 2012-13 season is playing with his second team this season played well in the loss. Black with atleast two quality chances, goes to the net, works hard, is always battling in front, has played very well over his career vs the Vipers.
Tyler Andrews (1 goal) Was another Eagles forward who had a strong night. Opened the scoring for Surrey I thought played very well, a good skater, moved the puck well, also created-generated chances.
Justin Laforest (55 saves) The former Portage Terriers netminder (2015 RBC Cup Champions) Stood on his head this evening stopping 55 of 58 Viper shots giving his team a chance to win. Laforest was almost unbeatable until late in the 2nd period gave up a late powerplay goal then shorthanded goal made some huge saves through out the contest. His game saver-highlight reel save off Mac Ferner on the powerplay and then his breakaway stop off Odeen Tufto late in the 3rd were two huge saves that come to mind. This kid has a wicked glove hand, made several quick glove saves, dosnt give up a lot if any rebounds, plays his position very well. Quick on his feet, gobbles up them pucks in his chest like a sponge.
Game Thought's: (Surrey)
I'm sure most fans thought tonight was going to be an automatic win with the last place Surrey Eagles coming to town. Boy were they wrong, the Eagles who have just one win in their last fifteen road games, were very close to getting their eighth win of the season in Vernon tonight. The Eagles come out hitting early, played physical in the 1st. Both teams got a little chippy at times in a very fiesty 1st period. Surrey would open the scoring on the powerplay jumped out to a 2-0 lead silenced Kal Tire Place before giving up two late back to back goals to end the 2nd period. If the Eagles give up just one this may be a different outcome as Vernon is down 2-1 heading into the 3rd, with the pressure riding. Instead it's tied heading into the 3rd and the Vipers having all the momentum-confidence after the two late goals to tie the game. I thought Surrey was outplayed for a lot of tonight's game but also held their own at times and gave the Vipers a good run-push. Surrey on the road to finish the regular season had nothing to lose tonight, playing for pure pride the Eagles looked like a loose bunch, had their fare chances to go ahead or score the OT winner. The Eagles have some bigger d-men but pretty slow and had troubles coming out of their own end. Obviously if it wasn't for Justin Laforest this game wouldn't have been close. Give full credits to Surrey who give Vernon a good run and played hard with the season long but over. Since the 2003-04 regular season Surrey is 3-8-0-0 in Vernon. Surrey's last win in Vernon was a 7-4 victory on Saturday, September 28th 2013. With the warmer weather, was the ice at Kal Tire Place soft tonight? The puck seemed to be on edge-rolling a lot through out the game. Both teams seemed to have troubles getting the puck to settle down. Surrey will continue their road trip in Penticton tomorrow. Speaking of the Vees, Head Coach-GM Fred Harbinson and his crew were in attendance tonight. Harbinson and the Vees coaching staff have been scouting-watching the Vipers games as of late, as Penticton & Vernon could meet in the opening round of the BCHL playoffs, if the Vipers can sneak in.
Energy Player of the Game:
Jagger Williamson (2 assists)
1st Star: Justin Laforest (55 saves)
2nd Star: Odeen Tufto (Overtime game winner)
3rd Star: Mitchell Oliver (3 assists)
BCHL Game Summary,