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 4-1 in front of 1,593 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Cole Demers
Coquitlam: Reid Cooper
1st Period: Just 1:11 into the opening frame William Lawrence couldn't beat Cole Demers on a wrap around on a quality chance by the Express. A minute later Michael Ufberg carried the puck into the Coquitlam zone before ripping a low shot along the ice, forced Reid Cooper into kicking out the left pad, made a big pad save keeping this game scoreless. The Vipers would open the scoring early less then three minutes into the contest. Jimmy Lambert outwaited his defender spotted an open Steven Jandric with a nice cross pass, Jandric beat Reid Cooper gave Vernon a 1-0 lead at 2:39 Lambert and Michael Ufbert collected the assists. Just over two minutes later Vernon's fourth line of Nicholas Rasovic, Tyler Maser and Levi Johnson did all the work along the side wall to keep the puck-play alive. Johnson and Rasovic battled hard along the boards, won the battle before spotting Chris Jandric, Jandric jumped up into the play before setting up captain Riley Brandt who gave Vernon a 2-0 lead at 4:43 Jandric & Rasovic picked up the helpers. The Vipers playing with a lot of jump and energy early took it to the visiting Coquitlam Express, were buzzing in the offensive zone. Vernon was outshooting Coquitlam 6-1 early. The Vipers with all kinds of pressure carried the better of the play for most of the first half. Just before the halfway mark Owen Stout lead a two on one attack, Stout got in tight decided to keep and shoot was stopped by Cole Demers not once but twice after the rebound on two solid scoring chances. Demers come up big with two back to back saves. Coquitlam would get the games first powerplay on the following play. Cameron Bertsch looked to have got the Express on the board after jumping into the play, Bertsch somehow missed the open cage as the puck went through the crease and out the other side on a missed opportunity. The goal light lit up on Bertsch's shot but the puck clearly didn't go in the net. In the dying seconds of the powerplay, Jake Brien's point shot somehow found it's way through traffic, forced Cole Demers into making a huge save, saw the puck at the last second, sprawled across the crease to make the save before a huge goal mouth scramble as the Express couldn't find the back of the net, as Vernon got lucky and killed off the minor. At one point it was 6-1 in shots in favor of the Vipers but after the PP it was now 7-6 for Coquitlam. The man advantage seemed to boost some life into the Express as Coquitlam seemed to slowly get their game going and looked-played a little better in the second half. The Vipers would get a late powerplay, their first of the night. Christian Cakebread setup a pinching Mitchell Oliver who went topshelf put Vernon ahead 3-0 at 17:06 Cakebread & Riley Brandt with the assists. It was 3-0 Vernon after 20 minutes of play. The Vipers jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead less then five minutes into the game. The Vipers took it to the Express early and often, really used their speed, were buzzing in the offensive zone. Coquitlam had a few opportunities, had troubles offensively. The Express were called offside it seemed like every second or third rush. The Express played-looked a little better in the second half but I thought the Vipers were the better team and carried the better of the play for most of the frame. A very quick-fast paced period with very little whistles. Vernon outshot Coquitlam 11-9.
2nd Period: Thirty eight seconds into the middle frame Cameron Bertsch stepped over the Vernon blueline ripped a hard shot that forced Vipers starting goaltender Cole Demers into making a big pad save. Both teams looked more evenly matched to start the 2nd period with a lot of the play going back and fourth with very few scoring chances. About five minutes into the period the Express would get a lucky break. A dump in play would bounce off the end boards, take a funny bounce before landing at the side of the net almost caught Cole Demers napping. Demers was forced into making a tough save as the puck was at the side of the net-base of the post as a Viper defenceman tried covering the puck up against Demers pad. Somehow the puck got loose ended up out front where a wide open Alex Ambrosio pounced on the loose puck was robbed by Demers who come across the blue paint to make a huge save on a strange play. Coquitlam would get an early powerplay to start the period. Vernon with a very solid penalty kill, come very close to making it 4-0 after former Coquitlam Express forward Nicholas Rasovic went in shorthanded couldn't beat Express starting goaltender Reid Cooper as the Vipers easily killed off the penalty. Vernon responded with a good push back shift, were really skating, had a flurry of chances in and around the net just after killing off the penalty. Just a few plays later Mitch Newsome on an odd man rush, fired high and over the net on a missed opportunity. Just before the midway mark the Express would get their second look with the man advantage. A quick shot from the point forced Cole Demers into making a tough save with bodies in front before Captain Luca Leone's shot just squeezed through Cole Demers and into the back of the net, cutting the Vernon lead to 3-1 at 9:49 Blake Hayward and Owen Stout picked up the helpers. The Express holding their own were back in the game. Just after the goal Nicholas Rasovic one on one went hard to the net, couldn't beat Reid Cooper in close. In the second half Sam Kozlowski on a parcial three on one decided to keep and shoot, was stopped by Demers who stood tall, made a big save off the rush. With three and a half minutes remaining Jimmy Lambert with a great chance in front, was hauled down giving Vernon just their second powerplay of the evening. With just eight seconds remaining on the PP Carter Stephenson with a blast from the circle found the back of the net, gave Vernon a 4-1 lead at 18:06 Jagger Williamson & Chris Jandric collected the helpers. Inside the final minute tempers heated up as a small scrum forced deep in the Vipers zone, with several players pushing and shoving, Coquitlam would come out of the scrum with the man advantage. The Express couldn't capitalize would take the remainder of the powerplay into the 3rd. It was 4-1 Vernon after 40 minutes of play. After the Vipers carried most of the play in the opening frame, give the Express credit as they battled hard in the 2nd, holding their own as the play was a lot more even through out the period. Coquitlam had some chances but again, couldn't capitalize. The Express didn't muster a lot of rubber on goal, where as the Vipers had their fare share of chances, seemed to be firing everything towards Reid Cooper. Cooper was giving up a lot of rebounds-second opportunities, was having troubles controlling the puck. The shots on goal didn't show justice for the play. Vernon outshot Coquitlam 19-8.
3rd Period: The Express started the final frame on the man advantage that was carried over from the end of the 2nd period. Vernon with a good solid penalty kill was able to kill off the remainder of the minor. Three and a half minutes into the 3rd Austin Adamson setup Christian Cakebread with a nice pass on the two on one attack, Cakebread would get denied by Reid Cooper who come across the blue paint to make the big pad save. Again both teams went back and fourth with very little opportunities at both ends of the rink. Not a lot of action through out most of the 3rd. The Express doing a much better job at tying up Vernon's speedy wingers, not giving up a lot of ice. The Vipers also up by three goals weren't on the attack either. Just before the midway mark Keegan Jones with a great chance in front couldn't beat Cole Demers who made a huge save in close. Coquitlam would get a flurry of chances in and around the net, couldn't solve Demers. The rookie Viper netminder had troubles controlling the puck on a few shots, but otherwise was solid. Just past the ten minute mark tempers once again heated up after Hunter Zandee and Jake Brien got involved in some pushing and shoving behind the Express goal. Both players took a few punches at one another before the two had to be separated. A few other players jumped in the mix wich didn't turn into much. Less then a minute later Coquitlam would get the first powerplay of the frame. The Express with a few pucks to the net, didn't really muster much for offence as Vernon would kill off the penalty. Coquitlam wasn't backing down from the chippy play, seemed to want to try and get under the Vipers skin through out the 3rd period. Nicholas Rasovic with a big open ice hit in front of the Viper bench took the worst of the hit went straight to the ice, holding his face looked to have taken a stick or something to the face area. Rasovic was kneeling on the ice at the Viper gate-bench was looked at by the trainer before going to the dressing room. Rasovic seemed to be ok would return to the bench and finish the game. Late in the period Reid Cooper took a stick to the mask after making a save with two bodies in front. Cooper seemed to be shaken up on the play, but stayed in the game. Vernon would finish the game with back to back powerplays after the Express lost focus and their cool taking two undisciplined minors to finish the game. The Vipers with lots of pressure and puck movement couldn't capitalize would come away with the 4-1 victory. Down 4-1 heading into the 3rd it looked like Coquitlam may have ran out of gas. The Express didn't generate much for offence, had a few opportunities looked to try and get under the skin of the Vipers through out the period. Both teams with very few chances, did a lot more talking after the whistle, getting in the face of players etc. The Vipers went several minutes without a shot on goal at one time in the period. Vernon outshot Coquitlam 12-11.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Michael Ufberg (1 assist) I thought looked a lot more comfortable tonight compared to the first two games of the season last weekend vs Salmon Arm. Ufberg joined the rush, carried the puck a lot, played with a lot of confidence tonight.
Mitchell Oliver (1 goal) I thought was another Viper defenceman that played very well in the win. Oliver looked very slow in the Vipers home opener last weekend, seemed to play with a little more jump and ergency tonight.
The line of Nicholas Rasovic (1 assist), Levi Johnson and Tyler Maser played very well together. Ate up a lot of minutes, along the wall and in front of the net. Battled and competed, used their size, grit and hard work to sustain good pressure in the offensive zone. It was this line that did all the dirty work that resulted in Vernon's second goal. Former Coquitlam Express Nicholas Rasovic returned to the Viper lineup after being injured, faced his former team and played with some spark and energy. Rasovic was good at both ends of the rink, played well on the penalty kill and was hard on the puck on the forecheck. Had three or four good quality chances tonight.
Hunter Zandee come to play tonight and played a heck of a game up front. Sporting a black eye, once again worked his tail off all night, was up and down the rink through out the entire game, really used his speed, created-generated some good chances. What a difference a year makes, Zandee is totally not the same player from last season. Has really stepped up his play and been one of the better Vipers this young season.
Jimmy Lambert (1 assist) I thought also played very well up front for the Vipers. Was going to the net often, another kid who played hard, worked hard and earned his assist. Has really looked good early to start the season.
Chris Jandric (2 assists) Has really impressed me this season. The rookie d-man dosnt look out of place, played a strong game on the backend tonight. The Viper defence played very well.
Cole Demers (27 saves-First career BCHL win) I thought played very well in his BCHL-Viper debut made 27 saves for his first career win. Had some trouble with a few rebounds-controlling the puck at times but other then that made some big saves through out the game. Not the biggest goaltender but smart with the puck, made some quick up ice passes in the 3rd period. Quick on his feet too.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
The Vipers jumped on the Express early and often, getting out to a quick 2-0 lead less then five minutes into the contest. Vernon with a very strong performance-effort in the 1st period were really buzzing. The Vipers looked very good in that opening period, had some good chances, really used their speed and quick transition game were up 3-0 after the opening period. How big was that 1st period? That was key, scoring first, jumping out to a 3-0 lead and not allowing the Express back in the game. Coquitlam seemed to settle down and play better in the 2nd and 3rd periods. If the Vipers don't get those three goals this is a different game and maybe a different outcome. After Vernon's three goals, both teams only managed a goal each. As the game went on I thought the Viper defence played very well and got some big saves from rookie Cole Demers. The Vipers carried the better of the play, had the better opportunities. The Vipers have more skill and depth then the Express. Give credit to all four of Vernon's lines who all contributed in the win. The Viper forecheck and passing was also very good. Other then giving up one powerplay goal, I thought the penalty kill was also good. The Vipers have a ton of speed up front, can really move the puck and in a hurry. For just the third game of the season, I'm very impressed with the teams passing-transition game. This team is playing very well this early in the season. I like the compete level and the chemistry-line combinations. This team is already 100 times better then last years Vipers. These kids come to play every night, compete and play together as a team. I like the looks of this years team so far. With the win the Vipers improve to 3-0 and the first time starting the season at 3-0 since the 2011-12 season. Will see what this team is made of, as Vernon hits the road for a six game road trip starting tomorrow night in West Kelowna.
Top Player's: (Coquitlam)
Jake Brien played with an edge at times, played well on the blueline.
Luca Leone (1 goal) I thought the Express captain was one of the more aggressive forwards tonight, used his size was strong on the puck, one of the more consistant Coquitlam players this evening.
Owen Stout (1 assist) Showed-played with a lot of hustle and jump in his game, had a few good chances tonight, was going to the net, tried to take advantage of his opportunities.
Cameron Bertsch I thought was the Express best player tonight. Was in and around the net, played with a lot of jump, seemed to always have the puck on his stick, had some good chances, played very well, has some soft hands.
Game Thought's: (Coquitlam)
Giving up three goals and falling behind 3-0 after the 1st period isn't going to win you many hockey games. The Vipers jumped on the Express early and often as Coquitlam shook off the bus legs in the 2nd and 3rd periods. I thought the Express played a much better in the final two periods but couldn't get much going offensively through out the game. The Express played better in the final two periods, cant compete-play with Vernon for a full sixty minutes. Were going offside almost every other shift in the 1st period, had atleast two maybe three odd man rushes, missed a wide open cage in the 1st, couldn't capitalize on their chances. Coquitlam looked to have trouble with Vernon's speed and forecheck as the Vipers looked very good down low in the offensive zone. With the loss the Express fall to 1-2 on the season and play in Salmon Arm tomorrow. Coquitlam plays ten of their first twelve games on the road to start the season. The Express have just one win in Vernon since the 2003-04 regular season.
Energy Player of the Game:
Jimmy Lambert (1 assist)
1st Star: Riley Brandt (1 goal & 1 assist)
2nd Star: Chris Jandric (2 assists)
3rd Star: Cole Demers (27 saves-First career BCHL win)
BCHL Boxscore-Game Summary,
Eddie Gregory's Coquitlam Express Blog,