I was at tonight's Vipers-Centennials game as Vernon defeated Merritt 3-1 in front of 1,589 fans at Kal Tire Place.
Vernon: Ty Taylor
Merritt: Jacob Berger
1st Period: Both teams got off to a quick start as the play was fairly even off the opening puck drop. A lot of back and fourth play with no real scoring chances early. Vernon was ahead in shots 3-0 early as Merritt needed just over four minutes to record their first shot on goal. Shortly after the Vipers took over the edge in play and basically carried the play for the remainder of the period. Jimmy Lambert would get the Vipers first quality chance couldn't beat Jacob Berger from the slot. The Vipers didn't generate a lot of grade a chances but did get a few good looks down low, couldn't finish-capitalize in tight. Just before the first half, Cooper Watson snuck in from the point ripped a hard shot that was stopped by Berger. Vernon was outshooting Merritt 7-1 at the halfway mark. Just past the midway mark the Vipers would get the games first powerplay. Captain Riley Brandt with a good look-quick release from the circle was denied by Berger as the Centennials would kill off the minor. The Cents who had very little control with the puck, would finally get their legs going and pick up their game late in the frame. With about four minutes left, Merritt with some pressure in the offensive zone was pressing late. The Cents didn't really generate much for opportunities until Ty Taylor was forced to make a huge pad save off a deflection in front off the stick of Zach Risteau with 1:50 remaining on Merritt's first good quality chance of the night. Riley Brandt come right back the other way, would get a great opportunity but couldn't beat Jacob Berger. It was 0-0 after 20 minutes of play. Other then the first few minutes and the final few minutes it was all Vipers. Vernon controlled most of the play for most of the 1st period. The Vipers didn't generate a lot of quality chances, did get some good looks down low and in and around the net. Most of the play was in the Merritt end as the Centennials were outplayed most of the period. The Cents with very little puck possession, didn't have a lot of time in the offensive zone. Jacob Berger made some key saves keeping this game scoreless. Vernon outshot Merritt 16-4.
2nd Period: The Centennials would get their first look with the man advantage, getting an early powerplay to start the middle frame. Not a lot of pressure, Stephan Seeger missed an open cage in front as Merritt didn't record a single shot on the PP. Vernon with a good penalty kill, killed off the minor. The Vipers responded with a good push back before opening the scoring three minutes later. Austin Adamson setup Keith Anderson for the one timer who went high beating Centennials starting goaltender Jacob Berger giving Vernon a 1-0 lead at 6:22 Adamson and Chris Jandric with the assists. Just before the midway mark Keith Anderson with a great look in close couldn't find the back of the net. Merritt would get their second look with the powerplay but again couldn't generate much for offence as the Vipers penalty kill with another kill. Shortly after Hunter Zandee with a parcial breakaway let up before not getting a very good shot off was stopped by Berger. The Vipers with three real good opportunities were just missing the far corner. Jimmy Lambert, Christian Cakebread and Ryan Brushett all ripped shots from about the same area come very close to hitting the far corner. Both teams really come out hitting as several big hits were thrown around the rink, with the Vipers doing a lot of the physical play. Late in the period both teams would exchange powerplays. Merritt really struggled with the man advantage couldn't tie the game, while Riley Brandt with a good chance couldn't give Vernon a 2-0 lead. It was 1-0 Vernon after 40 minutes of play. Another strong period by the Vipers who once again carried the majority of the play. Vernon didn't generate a whole lot of quality chances, did manage to create some good looks. For a second straight period the Centennials struggled offensively, going 0-3 with the PP didn't generate much for offence. The Cents only real grade a chance come on the man advantage after Stephan Seeger missed an open net on the tap in in front. Once again Jacob Berger was good between the pipes. Vernon outshot Merritt 15-3.
3rd Period: The Vipers would get an early powerplay but couldn't capitalize. Shortly after it looked like Vernon took their foot off the gas and were caught standing still. This gave Merritt a good opportunity to get their game going. The Cents who didn't show much in the first two periods slowly started to get some momentum and take over the edge in play. The Centennials getting some good looks in and around the net, looked to have Vernon back on their heels a bit. Just before the halfway mark Jimmy Lambert with a burst of speed rang one off the post on a Viper two on one rush. On the following play Vernon product Brett Jewell on a parcial breakaway couldn't beat Vipers starting goaltender Ty Taylor who made a big blocker save. Two good chances at both ends of the rink. Shortly after Riley Brandt levelled Michael Van Unen into the end boards, who went down hard and didn't move for a few seconds before slowly moving. Tyrell Buckley jumped Brandt as the two tangled at centre ice before Brandt took Buckley to the ice. Both players were tossed from the game for fighting while Brandt was given five minutes for charging. The Cents would get a five minute powerplay. Merritt struggled with the man advantage, moved the puck around, was unable to get setup-get any real quality shots towards the net as Vernon was blocking the shooting lanes as well as coming up with several big blocked shots. Shorthanded Niko Karamanis broke free for the breakaway beat Jacob Berger fivehole giving Vernon a 2-0 lead at 14:38 sending Kal Tire Place into a frenzy. Karamanis's goal was unassisted. The Vipers would build off the shorthanded goal and kill off the remainder of the major. The Cents blew a huge chance to tie the hockey game. Shortly after the Cents would get a late powerplay, with the goaltender on the bench for the extra attacker Cade Gleekel buried home the rebound breaking Ty Taylor's shutout bid at 18:97 Zachary Bleuler & Zach Risteau picked up the helpers. Merritt would once again get Jacob Berger to the bench for the extra attacker, with good pressure, would get two good looks in close couldn't beat Taylor who come up big in the final minute. Keith Anderson would put the game away hit the open cage giving Vernon a 3-1 lead at 19:47 Jagger Williamson collected the lone assist. The Vipers would hang on for the 3-1 victory. The Centennials finally woke up and come to play in the final twenty minutes, played their best twenty minutes of the night. Merritt caught the Vipers standing around early, would get good pressure and some good looks before blowing their chance to tie the game on a major penalty. The Cents struggled with the man advantage all night. I thought the Centennials had the better of the play. The Vipers looked a little scrambled at times and were caught standing around early to start the 3rd picked up their game as the period went on. The Viper penalty kill was very good. How big was Niko Karamanis's shorthanded goal? Vernon was really limited to their chances in the 3rd, were either on the PK or held in their own end at times. Merritt outshot Vernon 13-8.
Top Player's: (Vernon)
Cooper Watson I thought was steady on the Vernon blueline. Was involved in the play, was getting pucks to the net and was good defensively.
Keith Anderson (2 goals) For a second straight night, looked good. Brought a ton of jump-energy to the lineup, played the body, was finishing his checks, was skating hard, going to the net and looking for his opportunities. I really like the addition of Anderson, a very solid pickup by the Vipers.
Riley Brandt was physical, really skating hard, had atleast two or three good quality chances before being tossed from the game for fighting-charging. Will Brandt get suspended for his check?
Christian Cakebread didn't pick up any points, was skating hard, involved in the play, up on the attack, I thought played well for the Vipers. Worked-battled hard.
Niko Karamanis (1 goal) Scored the game winner (shorthanded) on a breakaway in the 3rd had a strong night. Wasn't involved in the play a lot but did a lot of the little things behind the play. Got sticks in the way of passes to break up passes, was good on the back check and strong without the puck.
Jimmy Lambert Had a strong night, was really flying, had several good looks-opportunities, hit the post in the 3rd, couldn't find the back of the net. Showed a lot of hustle and determination. Was good on the PK.
Chris Jandric (1 assist) Played very well on the backend. Chipped in with an assist was very steady through out the game.
Ty Taylor (19 saves) Gave up two soft goals in the loss to the Penticton Vees last night, responded well with a big game-win tonight. Wasn't tested much in the first two periods, saw most of his action come the 3rd. Was out to challenge, wasn't fighting the puck, made several key saves, giving his team a chance to win.
Game Thought's: (Vernon)
For a second straight night the Vipers were ready to play and looked-played very well. Until the 3rd the Vipers basically dominated the game for the first two periods. It was all Vernon in periods one and two, but were only up a goal come the final frame. Vernon was really using their speed to try and open up the ice. The Vipers for a second straight night, didn't create-generate a lot of quality chances, had their fare share of good looks down low, had troubles finding the back of the net tonight. This game should have been long over after the 1st period but the Vipers just couldn't capitalize-score goals. If Vernon scores a goal or two in the 1st maybe get rolling and put this game away early. The Vipers needed to put this game away after the 1st or 2nd period but instead allowed Merritt to hang around and have a chance to win. Only up 1-0 in the 3rd the Vipers got a little scrambled, looked to take their foot off the gas, were caught standing around a lot, wich allowed the Centennials back in the game and gave them several chances to tie the game. As the 3rd went along Vernon seemed to settle down but then had to kill off the five minute major. A huge kill and a huge shorthanded goal by Karamanis. The Vipers penalty kill has been very good this season and it showed again tonight. Vernon really limited the Cents chances in the 3rd and on the PK blocking shots, getting in the shooting lanes and then got the goaltending when needed. This game was a little too close for my liking as one shot by Merritt and we have a tied game. Nice to see the Vipers play hard and rewarded with the victory. This was Vernon's first win over Merritt this year after two pre-season losses and then falling 4-1 in Merritt just a few weeks ago. With the win Vernon passes Merritt and climbs into 2nd place in the Interior Division. The Vipers now hit the road for a four game road trip. Former Vernon Lakers forward Spencer Ward was in attendance.
Top Player's: (Merritt)
Zach Risteau (1 assist) Was one of Merritt's better players tonight. Had a great chance to open the scoring late in the 2nd period couldn't beat Ty Taylor on a deflection down low.
Jacob Berger (37 saves) Played very well, especially in periods one & two. Made some key saves at times when it was either scoreless or 1-0 not to allow this game to get away on him and the Centennials. Saw a lot of rubber in the first two periods, gave his team a chance to win.
Game Thought's: (Merritt)
The Cents come into tonight's game 3-0 vs the Vipers this season (exhibition & regular season) lost 5-3 in Wenatchee Friday and it showed. The long bus ride to Vernon overnight showed as Merritt was outplayed most of the first two periods. The Centennials played most of the first two periods in their own end, had all kinds of troubles getting their legs going, getting control of the puck and getting any zone time. Your not going to win many hockey games with just seven shots after two periods. The Cents were finally able to get going and get some momentum going in the 3rd played their best hockey of the night in the final twenty minutes. Merritt struggled with the powerplay, especially not being able to capitalize on the major in the 3rd. Giving up the shorthanded goal was the heart breaker. Other wise this game was going to overtime. The Centennials hung around and hung around, were still in this game even though badly outplayed after two periods. The Cents capitalize on the powerplay and this is a different hockey game-outcome. Merritt like the Vipers didn't generate much for offence, had some looks in and around the net but didn't get a lot of grade a opportunities. A lot of pressure but had troubles getting pucks to the net, creating-generating chances. Not one of the biggest teams, had troubles containing Vernon's speed and skilled forwards. The Centennials did a good job at collapsing in front of the net, taking away Vernon's time and space. Nice to see a few handful of Centennials fans in attendance.
Nicholas Rasovic (Injured)
Energy Player of the Game:
1st Star: Keith Anderson (2 goals)
2nd Star: Jacob Berger (37 saves)
3rd Star: Niko Karamanis (1 goal)
BCHL Boxscore-Game summary,
Merritt Centennials Game summary,
Vernon Vipers Game summary,
Merritt Centennials Game summary,
Vernon Vipers Game summary,