I was at the Vipers home opener as Vernon defeated Salmon Arm 5-3 in front of 1,641 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Ty Taylor
Salmon Arm: Michael Botiz
1st Period: A small delay before tonight's game as the Vipers introduced the 2016-17 Vernon Vipers. Both teams took the first few minutes to feel one another out with not a lot of action off the opening faceoff. Three and a half minutes into the frame Shane Kelley's point shot was redirected in front forcing Michael Botiz into making a tough save with traffic in front on the Vipers first shot of the game. The Silverbacks would get the games first powerplay just over five minutes into the contest. Josh Latta at the side of the net somehow missed the open cage on a missed opportunity. Jagger Williamson with a good opportunity shorthanded on a Viper odd man rush couldn't get a shot on goal after a goal mouth scramble, but it was Hunter Zandee that used his smarts to race to the corner for the loose puck, setup Carter Stephenson who spotted a wide open Riley Brandt who went in alone deked out Michael Botiz sending the fans at Kal Tire Place into a frenzy, giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 6:47 Stephenson with the lone assist. Off the following shift Carson Bolduc was robbed in front after Ty Taylor stood tall kicking out the pads made a big save off Bolduc who was in the slot, kept this a 1-0 game. Salmon Arm couldn't capitalize with the man advantage after giving up the shorthanded marker. A few minutes later the Backs went back to the PP needing little time to capitalize. Carter Cochrane's blast from the blueline got through traffic beat Ty Taylor tied the game 1-1 at 9:53 Josh Blanchard and Riley Hayles picked up the helpers. The Vipers were really moving the puck, took over the better of the play. Vernon with several good chances in and around the net, couldn't pull the trigger. Just under seven minutes remaining Jimmy Lambert alone in the slot ripped a quick shot that missed the far corner and on the following shift Derek Osik couldn't beat Botiz who come up with a big save at the side of the net. Sol Seibel couldn't clear the zone, forced the turnover allowed Josh Blanchard to setup Grayson Constable in front who beat Taylor on a shot that just squeeked through the pads and into the back of the net, giving Salmon Arm a 2-1 lead at 16:42 Blanchard & Spencer Hora collected the assists. The Vipers come right back, Jimmy Lambert and Steven Jandric with quality chances late couldn't get within one. It was 2-1 Salmon Arm after 20 minutes of play. I thought the Vipers were the better of the two teams, had a ton of real good chances could only find the back of the net once. The Backs on the other hand, didn't generate much for offence, capitalized on the powerplay and a Viper turnover were ahead going into the 2nd period. Salmon Arm outshot Vernon 13-10.
2nd Period: A minute into the middle frame Steven Jandric with a quick shot from the slot was stopped by Silverbacks starting goaltender Michael Botiz who made a big left pad save keeping this a one goal game. Vernon would then get their first look with the an advantage just less then two minutes into the period. The Vipers struggled, couldn't force any pressure didn't look good on the powerplay, as SA killed off the minor. On the following shift or two later a shot from the corner somehow got through the pads of Michael Botiz as the puck come out the other end, rolled through the crease and into the corner on a close call. A few shifts later Carter Stephenson unloaded a quick shot from the point was stopped by Botiz who flashed the leather, making a quick glove save. Vernon with good pressure early, had two or three quality chances in the opening few minutes. Salmon Arm would get their third look with the man advantage and capitalize for a second time this evening. Carson Bolduc at the side of the net beat Ty Taylor giving Salmon Arm a 3-1 lead at 8:21 Connor Sundquist and Cameron Trott with the helpers. Just before the halfway mark Shane Kelley turned over the puck inside his own blueline giving the Backs a two on one rush, Josh Latta was stoned by Vipers starting goaltender Ty Taylor who come across the blue paint to make the huge right pad save. In the second half both teams struggled offensively as the play was very scrambled and slow for most of the remainder of the period. Both teams looked slow and sluggish weren't skating as hard. Severl turnovers at both ends of the rink. Austin Adamson carried the play into the SA zone before going inside out on his defender shot went high just missing the top corner on nice play-scoring opportunity. Vernon would get a late powerplay that would carry over into the 3rd period. It was 3-1 Salmon Arm after 40 minutes of play. The Vipers looked good in the opening few minutes, other then struggling on the early powerplay had some chances in the first few minutes. Not a lot of scoring chances at either ends of the rink, as both teams looked very scrambled in the second half. It looked like both clubs quit skating, didn't seem to have that energy or jump they played with in the first twenty minutes. Shots were even 13-13.
3rd Period: The Vipers started the 3rd on the man advantage that was carried over from the 2nd period. It took Vernon just thirty two seconds to get within one. Steven Jandric with a nice cross feed spotted Niko Karamanis at the side of the net, cutting the Salmon Arm lead to 3-2 at 0:32 Jandric and Carter Stephenson picked up the helpers. This goal seemed to change the game and momentum as Vernon come on early. But just three minutes later Elijiah Barriga was down on the ice in the Backs zone. The Vipers had control of the play, the referee looked to be calling a penalty. Ty Taylor skated towards the Viper bench for the extra attacker, while the Vipers passed the puck around the play was blown dead and it was Vernon who was getting the penalty. The two referee's and linesmen gathered near the penalty box sent Christian Cakebread to the box who was given a two minute minor and a ten minute misconduct for a check to the head. This giving the Silverbacks an early PP to start the third. Barriga went straight to the Silverbacks dressing room before returning to the bench later. The Backs didn't generate much for offensive chances, couldn't capitalize as the Vipers were able to kill off the minor. A huge kill as Vernon was only down a goal with lots of time left on the clock. Less then a minute later Jagger Williamson with a great solo effort went inside out on his defender before beating Michael Botiz tying the game 3-3 on a highlight reel goal at 6:18 Williamson's goal was unassisted. The crowd was alive and back in the game as the Vipers rallied from down two to tie the game in the 3rd. Once again a huge momentum swing as the Vipers come on and with good pressure, had several good chances. Vernon was carrying the better of the play, were skating and working hard. But don't count out the Silverbacks who come right back with several good shifts of their own as the play-momentum switched back and fourth as both teams were fairly evenly matched but it was the Vipers who had the better of the scoring chances. Salmon Arm didn't get many good opportunities were still tied. Just past the halfway mark a strong shift from Viper captain Riley Brandt, showing his hard work ripped a hard shot that beat Michael Botiz but hit the crossbar, Brandt stayed with the play, regained the puck on the same shift would find the back of the net on a second opportunity giving Vernon a 4-3 lead at 12:46 Austin Adamson and Hunter Zandee with the assists. The Vipers kept coming, and with a good forecheck ate several good minutes off the clock. Salmon Arm didn't quit, come on strong to finish the game, down a goal really poured on the pressure. Vernon with atleast four or five turnovers inside their own blueline, had troubles clearing the zone. Carter Cochrane with a nice rush up ice, stepped over the Vernon blueline couldn't beat Taylor with a quick shot from the hashmarks. Salmon Arm with a few real good chances in close with traffic going to the net, couldn't solve Ty Taylor who was solid in the final minutes. The Vipers back on their heels struggled in the final few minutes were barley holding on to a one goal lead. The Silverbacks would get Michael Botiz to the bench for the extra attacker with 1:39 remaining, the Viper defenders come up huge, blocked atleast five or six shots from the point, didn't allow SA any shooting lanes played big in the final minutes and a half. But a penalty on the following shift sent the Vipers to a late powerplay with under two minutes to go. Vernon would ice the puck on the man advantage, before the Backs would call a late timeout, once again get Botiz to the bench for the extra attacker. Steven Jandric would hold onto the puck before sending Niko Karamanis in for the breakaway hit the empty net giving Vernon a 5-3 lead at 19:00 Jandric with the assist. The Vipers would rally down two goals score four in the 3rd and hang on for the 5-3 victory. Vernon with a huge-key goal in the opening minute on the powerplay to get within a goal, got back into the contest early to start the 3rd. Vernon really stepped up their play in the final twenty minutes, had some good pressure and a ton of good chances were able to score four in the period and hang on for the win. The Momentum went back and fourth for both teams, but it was the Vipers who once again had the better of the scoring chances. The Silverbacks had some good pressure in the second half and late in the game, didn't generate a lot for quality chances through out the night. Vernon outshot Salmon Arm 20-13.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Austin Adamson (1 assist) I thought played fairly well through out the game. At times really showed his quick feet work and skill, made some nice moves-created some real highlight reel plays at times through out the game.
Jagger Williamson (1 goal) I don't think played as strong as he did in last night's 6-3 win in Salmon Arm but still played fairly good tonight. Scored an unreal highlight reel goal in the 3rd to tie the game.
Riley Brandt (2 goals) Was by far the best Viper, laid out some huge hits through out the game, was skating, working hard, scored twice, carried the team on his back. Was exchanging words with several Silverbacks inbetween the plays, played with a ton of jump and energy.
Derek Osik I thought looked/played fairly well tonight, had atleast one or two good chances last night, looked a little more comfortable tonight. Had atleast one if not two good chances tonight.
Carter Stephenson (2 assists) Was Vernon's best defenceman. Was solid on the blueline, played well at both ends of the rink. Stepped up into the play offensively, made some very smart decisions both offensively and defensively.
The line of Jimmy Lambert, Steven Jandric (2 assists) & Niko Karamanis (2 goals) Wasn't as strong as last night, but played well in the victory tonight. I thought these three still managed to create-generate chances, created most of the Viper opportunities tonight. I really liked the hard work and compete level from Jandric who played hard all night. Karamanis scored twice could be the goal scorer the Vipers need. Lambert had several good looks at the net, couldn't capitalize on some quality chances.
Ty Taylor (32 saves) I don't think was tested as much as last night but still made some key-big saves for the Vipers tonight. After giving up three goals and now your team is down 3-1 this is where you would think a young 17 yr old netminder would panic-loose his confidence. Taylor didn't quit, played well down the stretch.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
The Vipers looked very strong-good in the opening frame, had the better of the play and the better scoring chances, couldn't find the back of the net. Riley Brandt opens the scoring shorthanded but it was Salmon Arm who was up 2-1 after the 1st. I thought Vernon was the better of the two teams after the 1st couldn't capitalize on their chances. The Vipers looked good in the opening few minutes of the middle frame then looked to quit skating. A very scrambled period with not a lot of flow and very little scoring chances. This team dosnt quit and it showed in the 3rd. The Vipers with a important-huge goal inside the opening minute gets the crowd back into the game and gets to within a goal with plenty of time left. The Vipers with a ton of pressure, didn't quit worked hard were able to tie the game before scoring the game winner and hold onto the win. The Vipers looked-played a lot better in the 3rd started skating again, used their speed and created several quality chances. The Vipers fired twenty shots on goal in the final frame, really stepped up their play in the final twenty minutes. Vernon scored three in the 3rd last night, scores four in the 3rd tonight improves to 2-0 on the young season. I still think the Viper defence is a little slow at making that first pass out of their own end, it showed tonight, leading to several turnovers inside their own blueline, one resulting in a goal. The Vipers may have got a little lucky in the final few minutes a shot from the point didnt get blocked, instead hit someone along the way, finding its way into the back of the net. I thought the Vipers struggled with the powerplay, played a fairly physical game at times, didn't play a full sixty minutes like last night. Other then the 2nd period, I thought Vernon was the better of the two teams in the 1st and 3rd periods. Give this team credit they battled hard, made for a very exciting-entertaining game. I know its only been two games, but already I see a major difference between this years Vipers and last years team. This team is already better then last years Vipers.
Top Player's: (Salmon Arm)
Julian Timba I thought was one of the better Salmon Arm defencemen. Was steady through out the night.
Josh Blanchard (2 assists) Played very well, was always involved in the play, going to the net, created-generated opportunities.
Josh Latta Had two real good chances in front, couldn't pull the trigger. Was also going to the net, worked and played hard.
Carter Cochrane (1 goal) Was the Backs best d-man tonight. A smooth skater, handled the puck a lot, jumped up into the play often, sees and reads the ice well.
Marcus Mitchell I thought carried the puck a lot, played with a lot of jump-energy. Was skating hard, battled and competed. Looked good up front.
Michael Botiz (39 saves) Played-looked much better between the pipes tonight. Replaced Trevin Kozlowski last night looked shaky at times, had troubles handling and controlling the puck. Tonight looked more comfortable in goal, made a ton of big saves, gave his team a chance to win. Was very good in the 1st and 3rd periods with the Vipers pressing. Gave up several big rebounds but otherwise was very solid in the loss.
Game Thought's: (Salmon Arm)
The Backs had a 2-1 lead after the opening period but I thought Vernon was the better of the two teams. The Vipers had the better of the play and a lot more chances-looks at the net. The Silverbacks took a 3-1 lead in the 2nd again didn't get a lot of great opportunities. The 3rd period could have easily been anyones period. Obviously the Vipers scored four goals to go on to the victory but Salmon Arm also could have easily scored an early powerplay goal to regain the two goal lead and maybe add an empty netter for the win? I was surprised the Backs blew the two goal lead and then to lose the game in the third when its still tied. The momentum went back and fourth but again it was Vernon that had the better of the chances. The Silverbacks had their chances but not as often or as many as the Vipers. Salmon Arm struggled offensively, didn't create/generate nearly as many chances as last night. The Backs also give up twenty shots in the final frame and record just thirteen on Ty Taylor. I don't think Brandon West and the Silverbacks coaching staff will be pleased with tonight's loss. Yes its early but up 3-1 on the road, this is a game you need to hold onto. Salmon Arm falls to 0-2 with the loss.
Brett Stapley (Injured)
Nicholas Rasovic (Injured)
Energy Player of the Game:
Austin Adamson (1 assist)
1st Star: Riley Brandt (2 goals)
2nd Star: Niko Karamanis (2 goals)
3rd Star: Carter Stephenson (2 assists)