I was at tonight's Vipers-Warriors game as West Kelowna defeated Vernon 3-1 in front of 902 fans at Royal Le Page Place.
Vernon: Cole Demers
West Kelowna: Xavier Burghardt
1st Period: Just fourty seven seconds into the game Connor Sodergren on a wrap around, tried going upstairs but couldn't beat Cole Demers down low. Vernon responded with two real good shifts off the following shift had some good pressure, but couldn't generate any offensive chances, before the Warriors come back the other way, Jon Russell just over three minutes in with a good quality chance couldn't beat Demers. Demers with two big saves
just three minutes into the opening frame. A few shifts later the Vipers would get the games first powerplay. Niko Karamanis took a huge check to the head along the side wall, went hard to the ice and didn't get up right away. Karamanis was bleeding and needed help off the ice, was very slow and looked groggy heading to the bench, but would stay in the game. The Warriors would lose Tyler Anderson for the next ten minutes after picking up a checking to the head penalty and an automatic ten minute misconduct. The Vipers couldn't get much going with the man advantage as West Kelowna would kill off the minor. Vernon with just one shot on the PP. A few shifts later Jagger Williamson would get the Vipers first quality chance of the night, one on one just missed the far corner after a shot from the slot. The Warriors were outshooting Vernon 7-2 eight minutes into the game. A few minutes later the Warriors would get their first look with the powerplay, but it would be former West Kelowna Warrior Hunter Zandee and Jagger Williamson in for the shorthanded two on one. Zandee tried setting up Williamson who couldn't get a shot off. Vernon would kill off the minor but within minutes head back to the box. WK with back to back powerplays. But once again the duo of Hunter Zandee and Jagger Williamson broke in on another shorthanded odd man rush, once again Zandee setup Williamson who looked to beat Xavier Burghardt making his Warriors debut fivehole, the puck come out the other end but looked to stop on the goal line as Burghardt & a Warriors defender cleared the loose puck from the crease as the Vipers come close to opening the scoring. At the other end of the rink, West Kelowna looked to open the scoring on the man advantage but Stephen Kleysen somehow missed an open cage in close as the game was still tied. Cole Demers had to be sharp was forced into making several key saves on the penalty kill, as the defending National Champions had a flurry of opportunities in and around the Vernon goal. The Vipers would kill off the minor. Both teams got a little chippy through out the period with some pushing and shoving after the whistles. More antics in the final seconds, wich resulted in the Vipers getting a powerplay to start the 2nd period. It was 0-0 after 20 minutes of play. The Warriors controlled most of the play and outplayed Vernon most of the opening period. WK with some good quality chances couldn't beat Cole Demers who looked sharp. The Vipers looked like the team that played last night, had the bus legs and were not as quick and as sharp as West Kelowna. Vernon struggled with their passing, and creating-generating chances. The Vipers had a few good shifts and only three quality chances struggled offensively. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 16-4.
2nd Period: Vernon started the middle frame on the man advantage that carried over at the buzzer to end the 1st period. The Vipers with good pressure, couldn't get any real good chances as West Kelowna killed off the minor. Shortly after the penalty expired the Vipers jumped back on the powerplay, that was short lived after Vernon would take a penalty sending both teams to four on four. The Vipers with a solid start to start the 2nd had lots of pressure and zone time, carried the play for atleast the first five minutes but had troubles creating any offensive opportunities. The play then evened up as both teams went back and fourth but neither team could generate much for offence. Just before the halfway mark Tyler Anderson stuck out his knee, going knee on knee with Jagger Williamson. Williamson went down and was slow to get up. Anderson was off to the penalty box, giving Vernon a powerplay. Williamson was very slow skating to the bench, went to the dressing room but returned a few minutes later and stayed in the game. The Vipers once again struggled with the man advantage as the Warriors would kill off yet another minor. At the midway mark Reed Gunville with a quick low shot forced Vipers starting goaltender Cole Demers into kicking out the right pad to make a huge pad save off Gunville keeping this game scoreless. This was the best opportunity by either team this period. Just past the halfway mark West Kelowna would get a look with the PP but a good Viper penalty kill would kill off the minor. Riley Brandt would step out of the box, and join the rush down ice. Warriors starting goaltender Xavier Burghardt was forced into making a save, stopping the play, Just as the whistle went Tyler Anderson levelled the Viper captain from behind into the end glass as Brandt went down before a scrum occurred behind the WK goal. Lots of pushing and shoving before Anderson was given five minutes for checking from behind and a game misconduct. Brandt was down for several minutes after being attended too by the trainer, needed help off the ice, wasn't putting pressure on one leg-foot. Brandt wouldn't return to the game. With just over six minutes remaining in the frame, the Vipers went to work on the powerplay. Vernon's defence spent most of the five minute major passing the puck back and fourth, killing a lot of time off the clock. The Vipers with no pressure or pucks to the net struggled. The Vipers with just two shots on the man advantage would take a undisciplined penalty to send both teams to four on four. While four on four it was the Warriors who took over the play and looked like the team on the powerplay. West Kelowna with a ton of pressure, were moving the puck around, forced Cole Demers into making a few tough saves before Mitchell Barker spotted captain Nicholas Rutigliano who was allowed to walk in from the point and rip a lazer of a shot past Demers giving West Kelowna the 1-0 lead at 18:43 Barker with the lone assist. Both teams would eventually go back to even strength before the 2nd period come to an end. It was 1-0 West Kelowna after 40 minutes of play. The Vipers with a much better start, got off to a good start with a ton of pressure, had troubles generating chances all night. Vernon was the better team and carried the better of the play the opening five to six minutes before the Warriors re-grouped and got their game going. I thought both teams were fairly evenly matched for the remainder of the period but it would be the five minute powerplay where Vernon had just two shots before taking an undisciplined penalty while on the PP wich was the TSN turning point. The Warriors with a huge goal late open the scoring in a period where both teams struggled offensively with very little opportunities at both ends of the rink. A pretty chippy period with lots of antics at both ends of the rink. Vernon outshot West Kelowna 11-8.
3rd Period: The Vipers would get an early powerplay to start the final frame but again struggle offensively and with the man advantage. The Warriors with a big penalty kill would kill off the minor. Vernon had several god shifts early with lots of pressure just couldn't generate much for offence. Most of the Viper shots were easily stopped by Xavier Burghardt. The Vipers would get a second look with the man advantage just minutes before the midway mark. Jagger Williamson with a hard working shift, did all the work before going to the net beat Xavier Burghardt with traffic in front found the back of the net as Vernon tied the game 1-1 at 7:59 Carter Stephenson and Christian Cakebread collected the helpers. But just 1:19 later Levi Johnson tried skating out of his own end, coughed up the puck at the blueline allowing Jon Russell to spot Quin Foreman in for the breakaway who gave West Kelowna a 2-1 lead at 9:18 Russell with the assist. Less then two minutes later the Vipers caught standing around, allowed Quin Foreman to setup Mitchell Barker who turned on the jets, going in for the breakaway beat Cole Demers giving West Kelowna a 3-1 lead at 11:02 sending the small crowd at Royal Le Page Place into a frenzy. Foreman & Chase Dubois picked up the helpers. Two quick goals by the defending champs and West Kelowna took the momentum and ran with it as it was all Warriors for most of the remainder of the game. About a minute and a half later WK would get a PP, Peter Tomaras come very close to giving the Warriors a 4-1 lead after his shot from the side of the goal, went through the blue paint and out the other side on a close call for the Vipers. West Kelowna pouring on the pressure, forced Cole Demers into making a few tough saves. Demers looked to be fighting the puck with his glove hand, had troubles catching-closing the puck with his glove. Vernon was able to kill off the minor. The Vipers now down two, couldn't get through the neutral zone went atleast five or six minutes without a single shot on goal as the Warriors took over the play. Vernon now really struggling had all kinds of troubles just getting into the offensive zone, let alone getting pucks to the net. Lots of chippy play going back and fourth from both hockey clubs. Both teams exchanging words after the whistle, lots of pushing and shoving, face washes etc as these two teams don't seem to like each other early into the season. The Vipers running out of time would get a late powerplay, call a timeout with 2:33 and get Cole Demers to the bench for the extra attacker. The Vipers powerplay unit looked dog tired, were having all kinds of trouble with and without the puck. Quin Foreman with a quick outlet pass tried springing a forward for the breakaway somehow missed the open cage with a long shot from centre shorthanded. The Vipers now firing anything towards the net, couldn't get pucks through the massive crowd in front of Xavier Burghardt. West Kelowna's defence-penalty killers were solid come up with atleast four or five big shot blocks. Inside the final minute Niko Karamanis with a quick shot from in tight, was stoned by the quick pad save off Burghardt. West Kelowna would kill off the remainder of the penalty before the final buzzer would snap their losing skid with the 3-1 victory. The Vipers with back to back powerplays to start the 3rd eventually capitalized on the man advantage, tied the game before the tides turned. A turnover and caught napping the Warriors capitalized on Vernon's errors scoring twice in less then two minutes re-took the lead gained a ton of momentum off these two quick goals, took over the play and outplayed Vernon for most of the remainder of the third. The Warriors really picked up the tempo after the two quick back to back goals, turned it up a notch and were by far the better team in the second half. The Vipers looked good up until tying the game, then the wheels fell off and the team couldn't re-group after giving up two quick goals. The Vipers looked dog tired and out of gas late in the frame. West Kelowna outshot Vernon 17-16.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Austin Adamson didn't generate much for offence, seemed to always be near or around the puck in the offensive zone. Carried the puck down low a lot through out the game, was the work horse with the puck in the corners-along the boards looking for the pass to the front of the net. I thought worked hard through out the night.
Jagger Williamson (1 goal) Seemed to have some chemistry with Hunter Zandee in the opening period. The duo looked very dangerous shorthanded had two shorthanded odd man rushes in that 1st period, couldn't find the back of the net. Zandee didn't do much after the 1st but I thought Williamson played a strong game up front. Really competed, worked-played hard, was in along the wall, digging for the puck, was the result of scoring the game tying goal.
Jimmy Lambert was another Viper forward that I thought played very hard and was trying to create-generate some offence. Took a beating in front of the net, was going to the net often. I thought played with a lot of energy and jump in his game.
Cole Demers (39 saves) Kept Vernon in the game, especially in the opening frame after facing sixteen shots, was forced into making several big saves to keep the game scoreless. Demers allowed the odd big rebound, seemed to have some trouble with his catching glove, was fighting the puck often trying to close his glove on the puck. Overall I thought played very well, was tested often and gave the Vipers a chance to win or atleast be in tonight's game.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
The Vipers struggled in the 1st were outplayed pretty good most of the first twenty minutes. It showed the Vipers played last night, while West Kelowna had the night off as the Warriors were more crisp, sharp and had a bit more of a jump on Vernon. The Vipers with two good quality chances shorthanded had troubles generating offence that opening frame, managed just four shots on goal. Vernon seemed to turn things around in the 2nd and 3rd played very well in the middle frame. Down 1-0 heading into the 3rd the Vipers would eventually tie the game on the powerplay before the wheels fell off. A brutal turnover and then caught napping gave up two quick back to back goals couldn't recover. Off the opening faceoff the Vipers struggled getting any kind of offence going, most of the Vipers 31 shots were easily stopped by Xavier Burghardt. Vernon also struggled with their passing tonight, weren't making them crisp tape to tape passes we saw in the teams first three games. The Vipers just didn't have that speed they have shown us fans this year, again after playing last night, the bus trip up the highway faced a very well rested West Kelowna team that hasn't played since last weekend. The Vipers looked tired and out of gas late in the 3rd. The TSN turning point was not able to capitalize with the five minute major powerplay in the 2nd period. Vernon with just two shots and no real pressure, struggled with the man advantage all night. Vernon scores a goal or two on that five minute major and maybe this is a different hockey game? The Vipers went 1-8 with the powerplay. I also thought the Vipers spent too much time in the penalty box, not that they took a lot of undisciplined penalties but were losing key players. The Vipers were very strong in the faceoff circle, winning a lot of the draws. The Vipers didn't look like the same team I saw play in their first three games. The Vipers weren't going to the net, made life pretty easy for Xavier Burghardt who wasn't tested much. Most of the Vipers 31 shots were from well outside with little to no traffic in front. With the loss Vernon drops to 3-1. Not the way you want to start a six game road trip. The remainder of this road trip, will be a big test for this team. Will see what this team is made of. The Vipers have struggled in West Kelowna over the last few years. Vernon's last regular season win at Royal Le Page Place was a 7-4 victory on October 18th 2014.
Top Player's: (West Kelowna)
Quin Foreman (1 goal & 1 assist) Played a very strong game. Was dangerous most of the night, really used his size, was hard to contain and always involved in the play.
Connor Sodergren Was another Warriors forward that stood out. Was involved in the play, going to the net, creating-generating chances. Skates well, sees the ice.
Mitchell Barker (1 goal & 1 assist) Didn't really notice him much in the 1st but as the game went on Barker picked up his game and played very well for the remainder of the night. Scoring once-adding one assist has some quick feet, can really turn it on when he gets going. Goes to the net, quick, nice hands, hard to contain. Had a strong night.
Jon Russell (1 assist) I thought played a very steady game, setup the Warriors second goal, played very well in the win.
Nicholas Rutigliano (1 goal) The captain opened the scoring late in the 2nd period, had a strong night on the backend. Was hard to play against, saw a lot of minutes.
Game Thought's: (West Kelowna)
The Warriors who haven't played since last Saturday's 8-5 loss in Trail jumped on a Viper team that played last night. West Kelowna was by far the better team in the opening frame, had the better chances, carried most of the play, but the game was scoreless. In the 2nd the Warriors were back on their heels a bit to start the middle frame but got their game going and played well to finish the middle frame. Very limited scoring opportunities from both teams in that second period, saw West Kelowna open the scoring late while playing four on four. This was a big goal, especially after having to kill off the first three minutes of the five minute major. It looked like we may be in for a tight finish after Vernon tied the game in the 3rd but two quick back to back goals really changed the flow and momentum of this game. The Warriors capitalized on a bad turnover inside the Vernon blueline to grab the 2-1 lead and then less then two minutes later catch the Vipers standing around, to take the two goal lead. The defending champs really turned it up from here on in and basically owned the remainder of the period. The Warriors with eight players back from last years RBC Cup winning team, lost a lot of scoring but work hard. Both teams played well on the penalty kill and I thought West Kelowna's defence was solid, really limited Vernon's time and space, blocked a lot of shots, didn't allow the Vipers to get anywhere near the front the goal. Newly acquired Xavier Burghardt wasn't tested often, wasn't really forced into making a lot of tough/big saves kicked out a lot of big rebounds through out the night. All three of West Kelowna's goal all resulted of hard work and capitalizing on a Viper mistake. A pretty small crowd on hand for tonight's game. They announced it at 902 but it was much smaller. There was lucky to be 300 people there ten minutes before the game started as the crowd slowly made their way in once the game started.
Energy Player of the Game:
Nicholas Rutigliano (1 goal)
1st Star: Xavier Burghardt (30 saves)
2nd Star: Quin Foreman (1 goal & 1 assist)
3rd Star: Cole Demers (31 saves)
BCHL Boxscore-Game Summary,
Trevor Miller's West Kelowna Warriors Blog,